Monday, October 02, 2006

Orphans without death certificates, prisoners without bars...

Idil Fitri kian menghampiri... E mail dari kenalan saya, Nenek Kebayan, mengingatkan nasib sedih anak-anak tahanan ISA menjelang raya yang akan tiba. Sekalipun mereka mungkin dapat berbaju raya, takbir raya hanya akan menambah pilu perpisahan yang dipaksa sedemikian lama.

Kecuali, kita tidak mempunyai hati atau hati kita adalah hati Bush. Kata pepatah Latin, lalat yang hina sekalipun mempunyai hati perut....

Ikuti bicara hati Nenek Kebayan untuk renungan bersama.

A tale of the lost children

Two hundred years ago, Hans Christian Andersen wrote the haunting tale of the Snow Queen. There was a sorcerer and his mirror. It was not an ordinary mirror, for he was full of wickedness and mischief. The Sorcerer had warped his mirror so that everything it reflected appeared blighted and ugly – a pretty lady would appear blemished and wrinkled, a stately beautiful tree appeared withered and gnarled.

The sorcerer took his mirror on a grand tour, and soon every corner of the continent was affected by its malice. The people who looked in the mirror despaired and wept, for all their hopes and pride and dreams turned to ashes and nothing appeared fine or pure any more.

After a while, the sorcerer became bored just tormenting petty humans and so he looked heavenwards for his entertainment – but a twist in the plot saw the mirror crash into a mountainside, smashing into hundreds and thousands of tiny pieces. The shards and fragments of the mirror were blown by winds and carried by water and found in every corner of the continent. Some were made into spectacle lenses and small decorative windows. Others were used to make pretty jewellery. The sorcerer was pleased because he knew that every tiny fragment retained all the powers of the original mirror: those windows showed only a soulless and bleak world, it brought only despair and sorrow, jealousy and vanity.

Worst still a speck of the glass would fly into someone’s eye and things would never look the same again. They will see, but only with vacant soulless eyes. The unluckiest of all would swallow little pieces by accident and the glass would worm its way into their hearts and soon their hearts were cold and without feeling…

A dark mood spreads across the continent….

Back in contemporary Malaysia, I wondered if the sorcerer’s slivers of evil glass had replaced many hearts with ice and their eyes with vacant stares, blind, cold and soulless.

The extreme trials of two children and their experience of loss, told by Andersen in The Snow Queen, is dark and haunting, and recalls the extreme trials of around 360 children in Malaysia.

These are the children affected by the ISA. Innocent children who live tormented lives because of the purported and unproven sins of their fathers.

They are silent, abandoned, disenfranchised, and only they know the real meaning of ‘psychological scar’. Some of the children live in extreme hardship, impoverished. Some may have extended families, uncles, grandfather to play surrogate fathers; but the stark reality remains.

These are orphans without death certificates. Prisoners without bars.

They are very traumatised children whose rights are not recognised. Their pain and trauma is not supported by any psychological counselling. To quote The Snow Queen “for all their hopes and pride and dreams turned to ashes and nothing appeared fine or pure any more”.

How do we measure the effect of public humiliation of their parents on their fragile hearts and mind? The taunts of sins that were never and perhaps will never be presented in a rightful court of law.

How do we explain to these tiny people that there is no right to reply? How do we comfort them from the shame culture that was perpetrated upon them? The moral cowardice? The pain of their mothers – women whose time, love and lives were robbed from them in broad daylight.

Their childhood robbed. Everyday they look around them with guilt, and unanswered questions. What have they done to deserve this fate?

These children do not know. All they know is the loneliness of a child, the pain of growing up compounded by the longing for the father, the wish that perhaps the dawn of syawal will bring them their precious gift.

The return of the their father.

Next time when you read The Snow Queen for your children, I hope you remember that the dark and haunting tale of loss is still relevant today, 200 years on and on the other side of the world from Denmark where it was written.

Note: Quotes from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen as retold by Nicky Raven and illustrated by Vladyslav Yerko (Five Mile Press, 2000).


Anonymous said...

Satu article yg merangsang minda dengan penggunaan cerita dogeng sebagai asas untuk realiti Malaysia. Nenek kebayan patut keluarkan lagi banyak cerita.

Anonymous said...

dalamlah artikle ni

Anonymous said...

good article. i wonder if pak lah ada baca the snow queen story for his children.
think he should baca the story to the member of parliament bagi kesedaran sikit, tambah tambah dengan raya yg bakal menjelang ni.
kesian kat anak2 tahanan ISA

Anonymous said...

Eventhough the snow queen story being read by Pak Lah and all BN members of Parliament...nothing touch their hearts. Their hearts full with hypocrites, black and corrupted.