It was one of those rare days, my father sat outside at the living area and I was home early after work. Dad usually sits in his own room and listens to his radio. I missed those time during my younger days where I would sit on my father’s lap and snuggle in his warm arms. He came out, dressed in his old, comfortable looking ragged T-shirt and short pants. He walked towards the sofa and I stood up holding his hands, guiding him to sit down. Mom was seated next to me on the right, contently watching her Chinese drama series.

I sat next to dad and asked, trying to initiate small talk, “Daddy, how was it like before Merdeka?” And he started telling the story as I moved closer to him, leaning my body on his chest. It was so natural for my hands to hug dad. “I remember when I have to run and hide in the man hole every time we hear a loud bang. It’s a small underground dug by the men in the neighborhood to keep us, children safe. This was our protection just in case the Japanese soldiers came. From within the hole, we can hear shootings and bombings from the sky.” dad continued. By then, I was in my most comfortable state. For that 10 minutes, I was my daddy’s eight year old little girl. It wasn’t much of the story he told back then, I probably didn’t understand half the things he told me. But the warmth, the comfort he emanated when I hugged him, is so fulfilling. I felt safe in his arms.

I knew my father remember those times as he hugged me, he clutched me close to his big belly as he continued talking. When he’s done with the story, I would probe him further with another question so he wouldn’t stop talking. I grew up asking alot of questions as my father never fails to feed my curiosity. He would patiently answer all my doubts and always ends his point with either a joke or a teaspoon of sarcasm. “When anyone farts in the man hole, everyone will be laughing and guessing what was consumed by the farting person. ” my father said jokingly ending his man hole story. My next question came, “How was the education system like before Independence Day ?”I was genuinely interested to find out. “Malaysian education system was much better then. We were all studying in English. Our English standard had higher grade.” I heard my father said. I nodded in agreement and my father felt the head movement and so he continued. Once he was done, I asked again, “What else was different ?” “Everyone was equal. We had equal rights among races” he answered sternly. I kept quiet. This was a very sensitive topic. I knew where my father’s grounds were on this subject matter. I dared not ask anymore. Nevertheless, I know it by heart, he enjoyed sharing his thoughts with me and I, on the other hand love my share of moments with him.

True enough, my father has his views on days before Independence Day while many will say Malaysia has gone a long way till now. I wasn’t there to make the comparison. Nevertheless I am proud to be a Malaysian. 50 years of Independence.What does that mean to you?
I was ambitious, I wanted to list down 50 reasons why I am proud to be a Malaysian. Unfortunately, I only came out with 25. If you have anything to add, please do so, leave a comment. In random order the list as follow:

1. Nasi lemak for breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner and supper
2. Roti canai in a mamak stall at 3am in the morning
3. P. Ramlee
4. Sudirman
5. KLCC Tower – love the view at night
6. Mt. Kinabalu – standing tall and making Malaysia ever so proud
7. Pasar Malam (Night Market)
8. Pirated VCD/DVD/CD
9. Abundance of green, tropical rain forest
10. Pulau Redang and other beautiful islands
11. Proudly made in Malaysia, Milo tin cars
12. KL Tower
13. Penang Rojak
14. Tapir, Orang Utan
15. Genting Highlands casino
16. Bata shoes
17. Ais kacang
18. Traditional costumes, cheong sam, saree, kebaya
19. Malaysia Boleh spirit
20. Durian and mangosteen
21. Our languages and dialects
22. Pan Mee (Flour noodle)
23. Wang Kuang Liang
24. Malacca
25. Most of my good friends are Malaysians