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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Indian Muslims and our special receptors



I am an Indian Muslim. My father Abdul Kareem was born in Hutton Lane, Penang in 1945. My mother Nisha was born in Halfway Road, Penang in 1955.
My grandfather Ahamed, on my dad's side, and grandfather Othman, on my mother’s side, were also born in Malaya. Their fathers, Nagore Meera and Shahul Hameed, travelled all the way to Penang from India with their families when they were little boys.
My great-grandfather Nagore Meera came from a small village in Tamil Nadu called Kadayanallur, located in the Tirunelveli district. His family were cotton weavers.
My other great-grandfather, Shahul Hameed, originated from Kerala. During the Hindu-Muslim feud back then, his father, Mydin, decided to relocate his entire family to Kadayanallur, a safer Muslim neighbourhood in Tamil Nadu. There, they wove blankets to make ends meet.
As such, I am of Tamil and Malabar blood. That is my ancestry, and one that I am proud of.
I know my story – where I came from, the struggle of the people who made me who I am today. I believe to own oneself, we first must own our stories, and to own our stories, we must not be ashamed of them.
The special receptors of Indian Muslims
Over the years, I have been mistaken as Arab, Pakistani and Latina. I have been stopped by tourists who spoke in Arabic and Urdu, thinking I was one of them. While many have mistaken me for someone I am not, other Indian Muslims in Malaysia have never failed to recognise me.
And that is because we Indian Muslims have special receptors implanted in our noses. Upon coming into contact with another Indian Muslim, the Bluetooth connection from one big nose would pick up the presence of another big nose - and our receptors go “beep, beep, beep”.
Likewise, whenever I see another Indian Muslim, my internal receptor goes “beep, beep, beep” and immediately, I know “Ithu nambho alle” (this is my people).
Every year, when I sit in front of the television to watch the Umno annual general assembly, my receptor goes crazy. Even without accessing their confidential documents from the National Registration Department, I am able to trace every Umno member who has Indian ancestry, thanks to their big Indian Muslim noses which receive the Bluetooth signal from my big nose, quite clearly.
But sadly, none of these Indian Muslims in Umno would admit to their “Indian-ness”, not when Umno is a party for the Malays and definitely not when the government is unwilling to recognise the Indian Muslims as Malays.
Seriously I do not know what is more embarrassing – these Umno fellows who want to be recognised as Malays or the fact that they are turning Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Indian ancestry into a laughing stock, despite being of the same blood themselves.
Well, at least Mahathir has got an equal amount of Malay blood running through his veins - some of these Indian Muslims in Umno are so Indian that I suspect they have curry running through their veins.
How do I know this, you ask? I know-lah, I have my special receptor, remember?
But then again, if wearing baju Melayu and habitually speaking in Bahasa Melayu entitles Indian Muslims to consider themselves Malays, perhaps these Umno Indian Muslims should get a keris, learn silat and call themselves bangsawan as well, no?
The thing is, like religion, race should be a very private matter that is of no concern to others. A leader is a leader if he or she can lead, despite his or her race and religion.
However, when a leader pretends to be something he or she is not, in order to be uplifted from his or her socioeconomic standing and to escape from the feeling of inferiority that comes with being associated with Indians, I believe the integrity of the leader needs to be questioned.
In other words, a minister who chooses to abandon his or her identity instead of working towards uplifting the socio-economic status of his or her community is not a good leader.

To Umno members of Indian Muslim descent, please don’t get too cocky and ridicule the word “Kutty”. While you are laughing at Mahathir, let it be known that the rest of Malaysia is laughing back at you.

FA ABDUL is a passionate storyteller, a growing media trainer, an aspiring playwright, a regular director, a struggling producer, a self-acclaimed photographer, an expert facebooker, a lazy blogger, a part-time queen and a full-time vainpot. -Mkini

1 comment:

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