Inner Minah

there was a time from when i was 10 all the way till i was 12, where i was finally included by other malays. 

 

before that, i drifted and floated in waves of assimilations. my hair shrouded in heat, scared straight into straightness. 

 

i didnt know how it started tapi iqah ajak aku lepak kat bbc lepas skolah and aku tak tahu what bbc was tapi aku cakap “boleh ah”. 

 

kita lepak kat playground belakang skolah dengan danial, haziq, sri, elley, mel, ira, sarah and shahida, iqah punya adik. sekolah habis pukul satu setengah and kita jalan back gate. I was nervous because i was entering an established culture for the first time without knowing anything about it. 

 

Bila kita sampai, I was enveloped by the casual bantering and heavy smouldering of familiarity. dont know if it’s a malay thing but fictive kinship started weaving and soon, my newness was forgotten. 

 

till now, i reminisce those days.

 

i made a decision that i still can’t decide was stupid or not but I went to bedok view, expecting to see a lot of malay people there.

 

there were a lot of malay people but not in the batch and stream i was in. 

zul, hanif, izz, farhanah, kamilia, husna, ernie and elliya. 

I assimilated again. I had to change my speech, I code switched, gentler malay, polite english. except with hanif.

so, bila hanif pergi NA, there was a period of time where he didn’t talk to me. he wanted to protect me from the shit he went through with the teachers saying fucked up shit like he went to NA because he was friends with people from NA. river streams of freshwater and saltwater always flowed into one or the other and if nature doesnt give a fuck about containment, so didn’t i.

 

I was uprooted from pasir ris when I was 14 and felt lost as i was relocated to Toa Payoh where nyonyas talked to me in chinese. I lost my bawah block days because takde void deck pun. just a lift lobby. I lost lepak sessions because my friends moved differently and so did i. we brushed shoulders with “amacam kau?” only to disintegrate after a few minutes of texts. 

 

it’s okay to be bodoh-bodoh, it isn’t okay to be bodoh-sombong.

these days, people say shit like their inner minahs jumped out when they are angry. 

 

girl, just because kau marah tak maknanya kau minah sak.

kau tak pernah cocok telinga kawan kau sampai berdarah kat bawah block, kau diam.

kau tak pernah jadi orang pertama yang orang tuduh for fucked up shit because you and your gang of friends sampah masyarakat, kau diam.

just because you say sak and pe and sial does not make you a minah. 

kalau kau tak pernah kena panggil sundal for wearing the same fucking school pinafore for 4 years straight because your mum cannot afford to buy you a new one and you keep growing, kau diam. 

 

I grew envious of a younger me who tak takut mati, who tak kisah apa orang cakap, who didn’t worry about identity politics. 

maybe it’s harder for my friends to talk to me now because their tongues aren’t used to terms like “queer” or “non-binary”. 

maybe my friends only know how to describe me in malay slurs. maybe because malay has not made objective descriptive words to describe who i am.

maybe i am gentrified. maybe i have been undoing my tongue too much that it’s susah to terjemah siapa i am now.

these days i am lost trying to piece who i am and questioning if these facets in me can co-exist.

 

malapetaka yang kena diteka, 

macam mana nak cakap aku siapa,  

tiada peta untuk bercerita

tentang identiti yang aku telah ukir

untuk diri sendiri.

sekarang aku sesat,

rasa seperti aku sentiasa kena pilih

aku melayu, i am queer,

lidah ini terasa kaku,

menukar bahasa ibundaku, 

dengan cepat supaya kau faham,

who i am.

i quickly learnt that bbc was basketball court

that was rooted behind our school, dekat block merah.

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