SEPT 14 — It is fascinating how the Malay language has more than one word for “love.” “Kasih.” “Cinta.” And my personal favourite: “sayang.”
“Sayang” is more universal and a popular term of endearment. You can even turn it even into a light, non-biting, chastisement: “Yang, oi!” Whether to a lover or child, “sayang” is the Malay language at its best — gentle, easy on the tongue and melodic in its composition. Starting off with a light “s” sound, before slipping into the “ah” vowel and ending on the gentle ring of “ng.”
Just saying it to yourself or hearing it in your mind, it is a word that is easy to love. Speaking of love, the coming Malaysia Day on September 16 has me thinking of the complexities of love when it comes to loving your country.
To “sayang” someone means of course to care for a person. Parents often use “sayang” to explain to their kids why they’re getting punished.
“Mama marah sebab mama sayang. Mama pukul bukan mama benci, tapi mama mahu Adib besar nanti jadi orang baik.” (Mama is mad at you because Mama cares. Mama beats you not because mama hates you, but Mama wants Adib to grow up a good man.)
So “sayang” is not about loving blindly. It is about caring to the extent that you do what is right for a person, whether it is disciplining a badly-behaved child or telling a person what he needs to hear and not what he wants to hear.
Then there is the other, curious meaning of “sayang”, which is “wasted.” “Kalau buang, sayang (if thrown away, it’s wasted).”
In a way both meanings of “sayang” apply to Malaysia. For most of us, we have this affection for the country of our birth. At the same time, when we think about the ways our country could be so much better than it is right now, all the missed opportunities, all the continued bumbling moves by our leaders, it is hard not to think “sayangnya.”
Where Hari Merdeka on Aug 31 is a day of national pride, chest thumping and processions why don’t we Malaysians just celebrate Malaysia Day as a day to really think of how much we really do “sayang” Malaysia. Yes, it can be frustrating being a citizen of Boleh-land but don’t we get frustrated or flummoxed on occasion by the ones we love? It doesn’t stop us from caring about them anyway so why don’t we remember that whether we’re annoying politicians or the man on the street, in some small way we all “sayang” Malaysia.
Happy Malaysia Day, people. And if my East Malaysian readers are feeling neglected and unmentioned, well here’s a musical salve for you from talented Sabahan Mia Palencia (currently furthering her studies in Australia). This goes out as well to all Malaysians, especially those frustrated so far with the pace of reform. Don’t just be angry or upset. Remember why you’re still here and why you still care. Kerana sayang.
(From Mia Palencia’s Sayang)
Jangan marah, sayang
Jangan sedih, sayang
Kita bebas berlari ke hujung dunia
Tanganku sedia menunggu masa
Dunia ini, sayang
Hati orang, sayang
Kita bebas berterbang ke hujung angkasa
Bulan bintang menunggu kedatangan kita
Mari kejar kebenaran.p align="center">
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.