When I reached home after school this afternoon, the flags were already there. Abah had apparently put them up earlier and while so doing, hurt his foot. While having lunch he said that the injury he sustained was akin to shedding blood for his own country.
What may seem like a pledge of allegiance and unconditional loyalty to his country, was in fact said with irony and deep cynicism. Yet this did not stop him from sticking two big Jalur Gemilang‘s at our gate.
The fact that he loves his country is indisputable. He served it as a mid-level government officer for more than 3 decades. He had seldom taken a day off from work nor was he one of the tea-break officers who would be at the canteen come 10 o’clock in the morning. He pays his taxes and settles his traffic summonses. Although it was never communicated to me explicitly, my father’s pride was in serving the people. My father’s love for his country is expressed only through his dedication to his job.
This love, however, is not blind love.
“Faults in another / that would not matter / in our loved ones / assume / cataclysmic proportions / and if i did not care / i would not dare / chart / your many imperfections“
To My Country by Cecil Rajendra
A common fixture of his day includes the tantrum he throws, paper in hand, hurling expletives towards the object of his scorn (often in the form of government policy or political personalities). He often laughs at political speeches made by some of our electorate and constantly ridicules displays of patriotic fervour (songs, poems, sketches etc.) on television. All this without ever proselytizing or sharing with us the finer points of his discontent. He ridicules because he finds them worthy of ridicule, not because of something he heard in conversation at the coffee shop.
When the the Month of Independence officially ends, and he has to take the flags down, I wonder if he’d snub his toe again and what would he say to it then. I also wonder about my own turn to shed blood for my beloved bolehland.