Yes I am descended from a long line of Bugis pirates or sailors….not too sure which for I was not around when my great great great….aiyah so many greats lah….when my forefathers first landed on the shores of this nation of ours. All I know then was that most of the Bugis of old were seafarers and if my memory serves me right, among my uncles and us cousins too, the emphasis was more on the lanun side (pirate) then the royal side of our forefather…..was that not the more “fun” side of things?
Growing up I remembered vaguely…very very vaguely, my Uncles and Father bantering among themselves about their Bugis links….more in passing then in any serious context. Then as we grew up and understood more of life there was no more mention of our Bugis lineage. There was no need for it for we have all become Malays.
We have become Malays who spoke mostly English with each other…and why not? We have been educated in English all our lives. Did it make us less of a Malay? Did it make us less of a Muslim? Did it makes us a “higher class” of Malays? Did it make us pledge allegiance to England or to the Queen? No lah….none of the above!
We were Malays who spoke English and when we felt like it….switch to Malay, use Malay words instead of English words in our conversation and vice versa. Be as it may that we did all this….there were some unspoken rules among us that we religiously keep to in order to be “real”.
When we are talking about food…it is never “have you had lunch”, or “what is for dinner” or “let us go get a bite to eat”….everyone of us just ask the other “sudah makan?”. The “makan” covers all the food bases!
The same goes for “jalan”….that can cover a hell of a lot of things. Go for a walk…jalan jalan. Jalan mana? Which road. Buat jalan yang betul lah. Do the right thing. Engkau boleh jalan lah. Go to hell! Mana ada jalan? Where got road/that is not the way. Kasi Jalan lah. Give way or give me an opportunity. Tunjuk jalan. Show me the way…..and so on and so and so on.
Those were the good old days.
You speaking to a Chinese? Depending on the circumstances…it is politically correct to call him a Cina, an Apek, Uncle, Lu, Kawan or Towkay. If you are upset….very very upset….you still do not call them “Babi”…it is just not the done thing…but you can use “babi” among friends to denote some anger towards something. Anything!
Indians? The ladies are all call “Achi” or “Minache” and the men we prefer to call them by their names…and sometimes if you think they are leaning more towards the religious side because of their attire…”Sami” And you do so respectfully!
Was there any problem with the Javanese…the Waks? No sir….no problems. From what I remember they seem to be a bit rough (not uncouth…just a bit rough around the edges)…and their Malay a bit heavily weighed down by their inability to discard the guttural sound of their mother tongue….but if you listen carefully…you should be able to understand them. The more adventurous among us will try to talk back to them in the same Javanese tainted Malay that they use to talk to us. All in the spirit of friends bantering with each other and not to belittle the other. I do not mind telling you that I had a degree of respect for my friends who were able to do this on cue….all in good fun.
This was life as I remember it in the times when race was merely what you do on sports day on the school padang in competition witness of your peers.
I miss those day!