Wednesday, October 22, 2008

after choral reading..a smile of relief~

Friday, October 17, 2008

Nothing Girl by Christelle Duvenage

Maybe I wear baggies
and white socks with flip-flops,
maybe I don't like listening to rave
and I'm not on the social mountaintops,
maybe I don't care about the things
that make your worlds twirl,
maybe you look at me and think:
Gee, what a nothing girl.

Maybe I like giving smiles
which seems to be a sin today,
and maybe I allow my imagination
to sometimes run away,
maybe you don't understand this
and that's why you cannot see,
if this make me a nothing girl,
hey, that's ok with me!

The world makes you believe
your personality mustn't be detected,
your face must be picture perfect
and wear cloths just the best, to be accepted.
Maybe I look at you
and feel sorry that you're blind,
robots you have became,
yourself you'll never find.

God made you, as well as me,
this means I am something,
the world is a liar
and if I must be a nothing
for you to see it,
then so be it!

12 oct 2008

Among Vegetables by Muhammad Haji Salleh

“My poetry is ‘communally-centered in as much as I write about myself, a Malay and the community I know best, my own” (2003, p.15). It is Muhammad Haji Salleh who uttered this sentence when he was criticized for being too “communally-centered”. His latest anthology Rowing Down Two Rivers (2000) has included a poem titled “among vegetable” which reveals local setting in the form of local fruits and vegetation. This poem tells us about a market that has been a place where varieties of local vegetables are found. The author does not only highlighting the vegetable sold, but he also represents the cultural values of Malaysian. In this twelve stanzas poem, the persona is walking all over the market and describes what he saw in his own thought. The vegetables he is talking about can be categorized as Malaysian flavor. Some of them originate from swamp area, jungle, and orchard from the village. He even linked the vegetables with delicious traditional cuisines which he akin to keep in mind. Regarding this poem, we can deduce that the persona is celebrating the Malaysian culture via the food, tradition, and reverence value of Malaysian people.

Generally, kerdas, petai, jering, and mengkudu are local vegetables that have been eaten since thousands years ago. Some country might found these vegetables on their land but only Malaysian eat them as traditional appetizer. These vegetables are visualized in specific imagery; kerdas is illustrated as brown and smooth while petai is in gamelan cymbal’s size. In the third stanza, cabbages are lightly green and whitish while in the seventh stanza, sweet potatoes are seen copper red. Other than that, similes are often used to illustrate those local vegetables. Cabbages are portrayed as white as coconut milk, whereas ginger is coiled as a cold baby like stated in the second line of the sixth stanza. Moreover, the smell of ginger is later on personifies as ‘creeping’, just like human. In the next stanza, sweet potatoes are also given the personification imagery which is surrendered. This means that the potatoes are like ‘giving in’ and they accept the fate, for what will happen next is being eaten.

Next, we have come to notice that traditional foods are also being mention in the poem. In the seventh stanza, there are cucur badak with shrimps and cucur keria with holes, made up to be served during breakfast. Not to forget, vegetables in coconut soup, and deep fried Kedah sweetmeat. Although these are obviously Malay traditional food, almost all Malaysian are familiar with it. Rarely found in other country, it makes these foods unique and it is indeed to show the identity of Malaysian flavor.

In addition, compared to western country, they usually use drugs to treat illness. In the eleventh stanza, the persona has simply informed us that scarlet jerangau; sold by a gentleman from Sarawak can be use as remedies. Local people use its root to cure diabetes and also act as antidote for alcohol. There are many other vegetables or part of plants that have been trust by locals to cure illness.
In conjunction with Malaysian tradition being exposed in the poem, the first example is in the fourth stanza; grandma runduk tadau is ingesting her sweet betel mix. Betel is a kind of leaf being chewed with betel-nut, and commonly seen to be taken by older generation, at rural area generally. Other than that, a gentleman from Sarawak do reveal the next tradition; having proud ears. To be brief, this is a kind of ethnicity identity which can normally found in Malaysia. This ethnic have their ears pierced and something heavy will be hanged to make their ears longer downward.

Now we have come to the second issue which is celebrating Malaysian culture by including reverence value of Malaysian people. These can be seen as the persona use to address older people with appropriate title. An adult woman and man are usually called aunt and uncle, respectively. For example, in the third stanza, there is a woman called aunt inai while in the next stanza the persona had address an old woman as grandma runduk tadau. Is it the women are the persona’s real aunt or grandma? No. Its being called as it is because in Malaysia, we did not call someone older with their name. We have the sense of respecting the elders and giving such title show courtesy. In fact, if we did not do so, we will be considered as rude.

To sum up, the persona is portraying Malaysian customs in three ways; the vegetation and its cooking, traditional practice, and venerability among Malaysian people. All in all, we can say that food can be one of identity that portrays the country. Traditional practice, on the other hand will be a symbolic of distinctiveness among society. To live together in a multicultural country, we should respect people, and addressing others with appropriate title will help a lot. Obviously, the author had made the poem more comprehend as he had described the vegetable with sufficient imagery. This can always help people who are not familiar with Malaysian culture to understand better.

Ollie's Search for Golden Hope

“Kehinde did not let Albert down. She treated her guests to the whole array of Nigerian traditional styles and fabrics, from guinea boubou to aso-oke iro and buba, to the Igbo lace blouse and George lappa, ending with the Igbo ceremonial costume of white otu-ogwu. This consisted of a cloth wound around her body beneath the armpits, leaving her shoulders bare. Precious coral beads adorned her neck, hair and ears. The outfit was to emphasize her position as first wife of the first son, and the mother of a son herself. Kehinde reveled in the impression she created.”

Above paragraph was taken out from a novel by Buchi Emecheta entitled Kehinde. In this paragraph, we can see that the author had uses some words that belong to her community, to be exact; they were used in Igbo society in Nigeria. Boubou, aso-oke iro and buba, lappa and otu-ogwu are examples of traditional Yoruba women’s clothes and these show us how the author wanted to encode her values, culture and belief in her writing. In other words, she had use nativisation technique in the novel thus we can make clearer impression on the background of the story. Apart from that, nativisation is also used as an act of dissent against colonial or imperial autocracy and control. In most writing, there are six level of nativisation used; form, context, literary devices, thematic concern, genre and purpose. To discuss further about nativisation, here we’ve got a short story by Syed Adam Aljafri “Ollie’s Search for Golden Hope” and we would go on with the identification of nativisation techniques used and evident found in the story. The three main forms that would be thoroughly discussed here are nativisation of form, context, and literary devises.

First of all, it is the nativisation of form. To be precise, this level of nativisation consists of three subdivisions which are lexical, syntax and cohesive structure. Lexical nativisation is words that have been borrowed or direct translation from one’s native language to be written in English text. For example, in this story, Syed Adam had used the Malay word abang which means addressing someone older (man) or a wife calling her husband to show respect. Other Malay words such as ulam, pucuk paku, and sambal belacan are examples of Malay dishes. Ulam are nutritious appetizer, leafy vegetables that are usually eaten raw by Malays. Sambal belacan is chilly toasted shrimp-paste cake ground with tomato and these two dishes go very well together. In addition, the author used the word kenduri, which means a type of cultural and religious celebration by Malays. Obviously he can always use English words to describe pucuk paku; fern shoots but indeed, using the word pucuk paku and any other Malay words had more effect in highlighting the local accent. Next, we’ll go on further with syntax; code switching, code mixing, and grammatical patterns. In this story, there are many dialogues or sentences that portray ‘Malaysian English’. For instance,

“Sorry about that, nothing personal, ahh? Fool’s gold. Just iron pyrites lah. No real value commercially.”

Ah, trying to potong trip to cut off Megat from his “gel-pren” tonight, eh? Wah suddenly someone is very sombong, too proud to join us ordinary folk! Be careful, don’t be lured by a pontianak succubus who’ll drain your nuts and suck out your soul!

“Hey, don’t pretty-pretty yourself too much, the mermaids waiting for me will turn into dugong seacows for you!”

The italic words are used not elsewhere but in oral or written Malaysian English. The word pontianak is the example of allusion where it is referring to “Malay woman ghost”. These are indeed examples of nativisation of form, under the syntax and cohesive structure subdivisions. Throughout these sentences, we might quickly assume that these sentences are uttered by Malaysian, where English is used as a second or foreign language, and distinct variety evolves.

Next, we will discuss about nativisation of context. The story was set up in Malaysia, to be precise, at the area of Kelantan River, Gua Musang, Gemas, and Kuala Kerai. Characters are also Malaysian, namely Gazz Babar from Kedah, Senawee Jumaat of Perak, Aberdeen Annuwar of Melaka, Megat Jajj and lastly Ollie. These example of local places and people have proved that the text have been nativised by simply using those Malaysian names. Moreover, one of the issues that have been raised here is about greediness; how this manner can bring us to suffer, even losing lives. Searching for the gold does not only make Ollie having debt here and there, but also he looses his friends, drawn in the mass of rain water. And after all the effort and sacrifice, he indeed gets nothing; the gold in his right fist is not known where it really comes from.

Other evident of nativisation in this short story can also be identified in the form of literary devices. First of all, the symbol of gold as something that can make people wealthy. There are also similes found such as; “…..the mass of rain water which continued to grow like a jinn, a genie released after millennia of bottled confinement.” The underlined words mean that the running water is being compared as big as a released genie. Jinn is another name of genie; a spirit believed by Malay communities. Other example; He just had time to exclaim “Ya Allah!” before a second but smaller onrush of water swallowed him like a gigantic python. Again, water is described as another huge creature which is as big as a gigantic python. Allusion, under the form of literary devises can be found early in the story where Gazz make a glib remark about has Saddam come to defeat Bush. This refers to Iraq’s political situation that has been recently happened. Another example can be found in one of the paragraph within the story; “Gold-gold-gold! I’ve found it, brothers! GOLD, oh GOLD!” Megat was jumping and dancing around like an oversized supporter of Hanuman the Monkey God in the “Ramayana” epic, whose fellow primates had built a bridge across a sea strait by holding one another’s tails to allow the hero to cross. Megat here is described as excited, and acting like one of God in “Ramayana” epic. Hanuman the Monkey God is written here to intentionally make us think of that specific belief in Hinduism.

To sum up, there are lots of nativisation techniques applied by the writer in this story and some of them had been picked out to be analyzed. Three levels that have been discussed previously are nativisation of form, context, and literary devices. Nativisation of form consists of collection of borrowed word or direct translation from one’s native language to English. The same goes with the sentence construction and cohesive structure which have native accent in the usage of words used. Allusion, make it obvious that the writer uses specific words that portray local culture and believes. Under the key word nativisation of context, Malay characters and places in Malaysia had been used numerously. And last but not least, nativisation of literary devices such as symbols, similes, and allusion are also depicted in the story.

The Model Millionaire by Oscar Wilde


Let’s begin with the synopsis of this short story. Hughie Erskine is a gorgeous and well-known man. He has every accomplishment except earning money. He tries everything; from being an investor, a tea- merchant, to selling dry sherry. Nothing works and what makes thing worse that he is in love. The girl is Laura Merton, the daughter of a retired Colonel. Both are madly in love and adoring each other. The problem is, Hughie had no idea how he could manage to get ten thousand pounds to get her hand in marriage, as her father has demand. One day, Hughie’s benevolent nature leads him to a wonderful consequence. Given ten thousand by a ‘beggar’ as a wedding present, Hughie could marry Laura instantly with no doubt.
The writer of this story, Oscar Wilde was an Irish playwright, novelist, poet, and author of short stories. He is known for being humorous and some of his plays still being performed broadly, especially The Importance of Being Earnest.
After I have read this story a few times, I’ve found out that there are some parts of the story that keep me reading; attentively. The title itself had made me thinking, what this jobless man is going to do with ‘model millionaire’? I’m quite sure that this is not a story where a man with no profession suddenly found a treasure in his backyard and then became an instant millionaire. He must be overcoming something, or struggling to make his dreams come true. Other than that, I don’t have to wait for too long because the author did not take time to introduce the important part of the story.

Narration Style

The Model Millionaire is a story where not any of the character is narrating the story. We called it omniscient point of view. Everyone in the story is being exposed to the reader without prejudice. The narrator knows the entire events that happen. What makes this story more significant is that the narrator intrusively being in depth in showing how a certain character feels and comment about another person; establishing his personal view. For instance, Alan Trevor the painter is introduced as a strange rough fellow yet he feels free to allow Hughie to enter his studio. This is because he believes Hughie is not only charming, but he got the sense of optimistic spirits and charitable nature.
Other than that, the tone of this story is familiar and I found it most suitable. It is being told straight to the point, not like other story which requires us to read with so much confusion and critical thinking. The author makes it understandable, at ease and not to forget, he includes the sense of didacticism.


This short story is being written chronologically and it has close ending where Hughie finally marry his beautiful Laura. The part where Hughie gives ‘the beggar’ a sovereign is a complete turnover of this story. Hughie is expecting the millionaire to be mad at him because he falsely regarded him as a beggar. Ironically Baron Hausberg, the millionaire gives him ten thousands to show his appreciation towards Hughie’s charitable nature. As for me, both the rising action and the climax are well developed. Apart from that, I think the ending is quite monotonous. The typical ‘living happily ever after’ has take place. What will happen to Hughie after he gets married? How about his failure to get permanent income? The then thousand pounds won’t be sufficient till the end of their life, isn’t it?


As long as I’m concern, the characters are quite well developed and presented. There is adequate description about every single character; certainly it’s according to their level of contribution in the story. For instance, Hughie is being depicted as handsome, having crisp brown hair, clear-cut profile and grey eyes. His nature of generosity and buoyancy are revealed indirectly by Alan Trevor’s point of view.Alan Trevor is portrayed as rare, with freckled face and a red raged beard. In addition, even the visitor who was sent by Baron Hausberg is described as an old gentleman with gold spectacles and grey hair. This kind of exposure can help the reader to imagine their appearance in the story, making it more effective.
Moreover, speech and actions included has brought the readers closer to the story. Sometimes it seems that we can get into the characters’ head and figure out his thought. At the same time, the characters’ values are to be exposed this way. For example, Hughie’s generosity is portrayed within a conversation with Alan in the Palette Club;
‘My dear Alan,’ cried Hughie, ‘I shall probably find him waiting for me when I go home. But of course you are only joking. Poor old wretch! I wish I could do something for him. I think it is dreadful that any one should be so miserable. I have got heaps of old clothes at home- do you think he would care for any of them? Why, his rags were falling to bits.’


A number of settings that I’ve found in the story included time, places and socioeconomic settings. Sufficient illustration is included so that we know the story was held in London where their currency is pound sterling. The scene where Hughie meets Alan and ‘the beggar ’in the studio, and they were in the Palette Club happened in a day. Then the next morning Hughie has been given the ten thousand pounds as a wedding gift. The socioeconomic setting shows any beggars are rarely found at the street as being mention by Alan;
‘Such beggars as he are not to be met with every day.’
This might mean that only few people are living hardly, others lived comfortably.
To analyze about the effectiveness of the settings, I would say that there are some settings that have help the reader to understand more, but another setting is inadequate for some reasons. For example, the situation in common places such as studio and night club are quite similar no matter which country are you in. So, whatever scene takes place in that area the reader can help themselves to understand the scene. On the contrary, for readers who haven’t been to European country might have some difficulty to get the picture of socioeconomic and cultural setting mentioned in the story.


In my point of view, this story is quite interesting because it reminds us about moral values that sometime and somehow we had forgotten or neglect. Being a well educated human should make us aware of others people burden. As the saying goes, what goes around comes around. Without no doubt, kindness will be repay by kindness, no matter how, when and where it should be. Even though ‘the beggar’ is not a true beggar, Hughie’s sincerity to help him without hoping anything in return can be symbolized as we shouldn’t take things for granted.
On the other hand, the simplicity of vocabulary and syntax also add my interest towards reading and analyzing this story. It is easy to understand with light conflict and exposure to some French language. Suitable to be read at all level, this story could catch the reader attention to finish them in a few minutes.