If I could sum up my childhood in one word I'd pick 'bedouin'. Not because my parents are Arabs originating from the sandy deserts in the Middle East but simply because my childhood consisted of me travelling from one place to another. Most of my memories growing up were probably of my siblings and I being bored in a car, us bickering in the car, us being uncomfortable in a bus, my sister being seasick on the ferry or the best yet, my brother and I playing a prank on the air stewardess when the journey was simply taking too long. My family have probably exhausted all modes of public transportation known to mankind.
So it's no wonder that I don't really have a sense of identity when it comes to my... hmm what can you call it?... State-lity? Ye, saya tak boleh nak pilih saya ni asal negeri mana sebenarnya.
I was born but not bred in Kelantan. My pre-teen years were in a small, English suburb of Birkenhead. My early teenage years were in a highly Chinese dominated town of Ipoh and I spent the last of teenage years in a boarding school filled with Malays. Now I am happily going through my adult life in the cultural melting pot of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur.
So can you see yet the root of my confusion?
If I were to say I am a Kelantanese, the response would probably be "What? You're a Kelantanese? You don't look or act like one. Can you even speak Kelantanese?"
Ho ambo buleh kecek Kelate. (Walaupun Kelantan saya cair tapi saya tetap boleh paham dan bertutur dalam bahasa Kelantan).
But whether I look or act like one, well... I probably don't. I don't really fit into the typical gadis Kelantan mould. And regarding acting like a Kelantanese, how do I act like one? Do I have to speak Kelantanese all the time? Must I only mix only with other Kelantanese? Do I have to vote for PAS?
Isn't it enough that I enjoy eating budu and have the natural pension for sweet stuff.
So then what's up with being 'Perak Celup'?
My whole family (i.e. my immediate family) now lives in Ipoh, Perak. I LOVE Ipoh. I ADORE living in Ipoh. As cheesy as this may sound...
I H♥E♥A♥RT IPOH
But alas as much as I love the peaceful oasis that is Ipoh I can't fully say that I am a Perakian. Simply because after the age of 14, I have never stayed in Ipoh longer than a few months at a time.
Eh? How can this be?
All because of that damned boarding school laaa!! I still dont fully understand this whole trend of boarding schools. Sending your kids into the far depth of undeveloped wilderness like Balik Pulau or Gerik (no offense to those from those two places but during my time the schools were really in the middle of nowhere) just for the sake of a better education?! Realise people!!... that top scorers for the past few years were not from boarding schools. They were from regular day schools that were smack dab in the middle of the city. Trust me, kids that goes to boarding school are miserable. I was utterly miserable. To this very day I entertain the idea of going back to that h**lhole and bombing that school to smithereens. I vow to never ever send any of my kids to boarding schools.
But I digress.
It was simple enough to say that between school, term breaks, and familial bonds my days were pretty much divided between Ipoh, Penang and Kelantan. Long weekends in Kelantan, miserable school days in Penang and long breaks in Kelantan. That was my routine for 2 years straight. Now do you see why I feel like a bedouin?
Tapi.. kalau rumah awak kat Ipoh dan awak dah lama tinggal kat sana bolehlah nak dikatakan awak ni orang Perak.
Hmm... not necessarily. I cant speak a word of the Perak dialect. I even don't know certain Perak districts. I can still get lost driving around in Ipoh and I'm ashamed to say this, I don't even know who's the Perak Menteri Besar is. Oh malunya. The only thing Perak about me is my LOVE of Ipoh and my burning desire to learn how to cook ikan patin gulai tempoyak.
And since I've been living in KL for the past several years does that mean I'm a KL-ite? Haih... pening, pening.
Takpelah... whatever it is I may be, either Perakian, Kelantanese, Penangite, or KL-ite saya tetap orang Malaysia. Home is where the heart is and my heart is firmly rooted in Malaysia. In fact my heart is rooted in several states in the country. How Malaysian I can get? Hehe.
So to support our new Prime Minister's call for One Malaysia I am proud to call myself a Perak-celup-Kelate-Murtad Malaysian.
Selamat Hari Kebangsaan, Malaysians. Merdeka!!