What does 'Merdeka' means to you?
For me, it has been many. Sure as cliche as it may be, my Merdeka means being freed from foreign rule since 31st August 1957. To be able to wake up & live each day without the fear of guns/bombs is another.
In my early 20s, my Merdeka means to be able to enjoy free concert on the eve of Merdeka & just loitering around KL till wee hours thinking that is the coolest thing to do (of course that my 'party life' didn't last long...my mom was a fierce mama bear at home).
Then 2004 on the eve of Merdeka, I left my motherland for the first time in my entire life. I could recall in the plane, looking down I felt a teeny lump in my throat, it was an unaccustomed feeling. Was I being patriotic? I looked at the Jalur Gemilang my friends gave me when leaving the airport as a parting memorabilia - they signed & scribbled some well-wishes on it. The next 8 months of my life as an alien (gaijin) that flag kept me company, especially in my time of solitude & feeling terribly homesick sitting at the working table, the flag was next to pictures of all my loved ones, I'd feel that lump in my throat again. This time, that lump and I are tomodachi (friends).
And in between the years of finding self & adulthood, that patriotism slowly diminishes and before long it's just a distant feeling. Looking at the national flag, it is what it is - flag. Now, where's that lump that used to choke me whenever this nationalistic imagery come into contact with me?
Fast-forward, in my 30s, I found that lump again. My 'merdeka' lump and I reunited after 10 years since its debut in 2004. Now, with two kids, my first born was the one responsible to strike some independence day sense in me.
Her pure request of getting some mini Jalur Gemilang was denied initially until I gave in to her and bought each one of my nucleus family, a piece that costs only 50 cents each.
Her innocence towards the meaning of Merdeka slowly made me feel excited again. We both sing in the car, even her younger 1 y.o sis tried to say "eka" short for Merdeka. My daughters and I sing a few rounds of Merdeka song over and over again till our heart's content, a bit off-tune yet we were singing so loudly and happily that my daughter even roll-down the car window and scream "Merdeka" at random people while waving the flag at them (she feels so euphoric having a flag in her hand finally).
Seeing my 6 y.o wholeheartedly celebrating Merdeka made me lumps in the throat again. Suddenly, all of the Merdeka lyrics reverberate deep in me. I want this maintained & treasured forever.
I want my kids to love and respect this nation so that it will prosper into an even more wonderful Malaysia.
This love displayed by my daughter who is 6 years old to Malaysia, is unconditional & pure...However, it will be a disgrace if her love and many more innocent souls like her get tainted all thanks to many of the so-called loving mostly young adult Malaysians who wore Yellow (read: Bersih 4.0) today, on the eve of our National Day smearing the country's image under the pretext of saving Malaysia, such a fallacy that needed to be rectify immediately before the damage goes beyond repair.