Sunday 9 March 2014
In search of my innate Malaysian voice
I don't listen much to TED talks, but this caught my eye whilst browsing Facebook.
I identify with her in many ways, growing up reading British and American books, growing up writing stories that have a very Western slant in my extremely Asian surroundings. I believe it was Shamini Flint (or was it Preeta Samarasan?) who talked about something like this as well in last year's Georgetown Literary Festival, questioning why there aren't stories about our Malaysian experience, about the things that make us, well, us.
I'd like to believe that my writing has started to change in recent years, that I'm allowing my innate Malaysian voice to emerge more and more. The yellow-haired princesses of my colouring books and early writings have changed to brunettes and black-haired vixens, and yet, there is still the fact that even my choice of words in writing still reveals that bias.
Maybe it's my lack of proficiency at my own national language or my supposed mother tongue. Maybe it's the tail end of anglophilia that still has its grip on my heart. Or maybe it's a subconscious mindset that I need to start changing.
Either way, there needs to be a Malaysian Voice to support this growing awareness of who we are as a nation. Even as people are standing up to be counted politically, yearning to make a change, there needs to be a new Voice of literature standing up to pull us together, saying, this is who we are. This is what has shaped us.
Not just for us.
But so that others can understand us too.