Sunday, September 13, 2009


Hahaha! And that's the truth.

For 36 years people have been calling me "Melayu". Of course I've always been telling people about my real heritage but then they will resort to calling me "Melayu" again and after a while I get tired so I just humour them. But now I've decided to stop all this travesty because it's really very silly, why be what you aren't? It's been putting me into a spot where I'm expected to speak Malay, think Malay, eat like a Malay, observe Malay customs which I actually feel very uncomfortable about and when I refuse to do it I am called mengada-ngada.

So what am I?

My paternal grandfather is a Pathan, and maternal grandmother is Javanese. My maternal grandfather is Achenese, and my maternal grandmother is of Scottish descent of the Royal Stuart clan. There. It makes me a ratatouille of races but I sure ain't a Malay.

How did I end up being associated with "Melayu"? Well, both my parents grew up in Malay communities, so they were "Malay-fied". They probably had to practice Malay culture so as to blend in. So much so that when I was born my dad wrote in my birth certificate (incidentally he had to type my birth certificate himself as the doctor was busy - I was born right after the Christmas break!) in the "Keturunan Bapa" column that he was a Malay!

Both my parents' families lifestyles had distinct traits of their ancestral legacies, even though they did as much as they could so as to go along with society's expectations. I was brought up speaking English as a first language, and our eating and thinking ways were different too, but at the same time I was raised to observe all the obligations of a Muslim, for which I am very, very thankful. I can say that I have a balanced life because of this.

Maybe perhaps due to my Muslim upbringing, and the fact that I now wear a tudung, people automatically associate me with being a Malay. That is actually a narrow perception :)

Do I feel out of place sometimes, being neither here nor there? Yes, I do. I am kekok about going to weddings and other Malay kenduri events. There are a lot of Malay customs that we (as in my family) don't practice. It's different when a Mat Salleh comes to a Malay wedding, because everyone knows that he doesn't know the customs so he can just happily sit around watching the whole thing however he pleases. But for someone "assumed" and "expected" to be Malay, I am supposed to "act" Malay and know what/what not to do, which I actually don't know, and I feel and look awkward.

So why not learn? Well, for me it's an individual choice. If to learn and to manifest is to be, then I don't want to.

At 36, it is high time for me to really find out what my real birthright customs are. I am blogging this just a week before this year's Raya because this is my Raya mission: to visit as many of my family members as possible, and know who I really am. :)