Friday, May 8, 2009

Love This Land that is Ours

The shoreline at Pengkalan Chepa never looked so good. The water was clear. There was a slight mist hanging over the land. As we take off and head seawards over the South China Sea, I get a wonderful look at this Kelantan that is ours.

It is easy to forget the petty political nonsense of this state when you’re looking at such beauty. While my friends who live in Malaysia constantly aspire to visit other countries and appreciate the beauty of foreign lands, I can’t seem to get enough of what is my home country, my place of birth, and ultimately, probably where I can say I belong.

It’s a slow ride on this plane, its propellers reminding me of the old Fokkers. It’s a slow ride even if our speed is 500km/hour. Soaring above the clouds, and getting a bird’s eye view of this greenness is a privilege. We so often forget to appreciate the scenery that we take for granted. I’m looking at this from the perspective of someone who has lived elsewhere for more than half her life. This lush greenness remains for me a sight for sore eyes for it brings back my lasting memories of home.

Take this view in: Like a child who’s taking their first airplane ride, the simple wonderment of being above the clouds. A different vantage point has its rewards.

I’m constantly reminded that it is different for me because I don’t live here anymore. If I live here, it would be different. I would essentially, be as intolerant of the traffic and intolerant of the lack of systematic obedience of rules and regulations and etiquette. I’d be a cynic, like a lot of people here. For now, it’s like I’m in holiday mode and ‘stuck in the moment’ as it were. That U2 song keeps playing in my head.

Maybe so. Maybe I can see the utter clutter of Islamic buildings in the city of Kota Bharu and appreciate it as ‘culture’. Maybe I can see mountains of trash by our roads, polluting our environment and chalk it down to ‘that’s the way it is here’. Can I see beyond the environmental damage and appreciate this land of ours like it ought to be? Can I kid myself into thinking that it is ‘normal’ for Kota Bharu to be scorchingly hot at times even though I have seen hundred-year-old trees being callously cut down to make way for infrastructure or economic development?

The trees that once line the street near my house are now gone. In their place, a wider road, more room for drivers to make up imaginary lanes and drive in more lanes than there are designated. More space for illegally parked cars. Why don’t the ticket-writers give these people tickets?

How do you tell people who live here to appreciate this land that is theirs, to 'mencintai alam’ (love the environment)? A recent trip to Pulau Perhentian, for instance was enjoyable, but undoubtedly ingrained in my memory were the countless empty plastic water bottles that peppered the beach.

If I take away all the bad stuff that encircles what is pure and simple, I have bliss. A wonderful preservation of years past in my mind, when the land was less touched by development and industry. We still managed to live happily with lesser wants. We probably had more values than kids these days?

Then again, I haven’t got all the answers. And, I can’t live without my handphone. So who am I to say let’s turn back time?