RESPONDING TO TAN TWAN ENG’S SALUTATION IN HIS BOOK: GARDEN OF EVENING MIST
I have just opened the pages of Tan Twan Eng’s second book, Garden of Evening Mist. He is Malaysia’s few fiction writer, very well known overseas. The opening chapter, including the title, are beautifully written. I have read his first book, Rain. Many Malaysians think he has been an apologist for Japanese militarism and imperialism. These people do distinguish between militarists and innocent and peace loving Japanese. Certainly the younger post war generation youth cannot be held responsible for crimes they have not committed. At best, it is best forgiven, but not forget or erase from history. Japanese government, especially Abe, has a hard time in accepting wartime guilt over the years. It is in this spirit that I compose my verses in responding to his quote in his book.
TAN TWAN ENG’S GARDEN OF EVENING MIST
A Meander Through Memory and Forgetting:
“There is a goddess of Memory, Mnemosyne; but none of Forgetting.
Yet there should be, as they are twin sisters, twin powers, and walk
on either side of us, disputing for sovereignty over us and who we
are, all the way until death.”
THIS IS MY RESPONSE IN VERSE:
What to remember or forget,
Is a choice we select.
To ask victims to forget a crime,
Not the same as forgive atrocities in wartime.
For the goddess of memory to be fair,
The culprits must first repent with care.
Culprits must cease speech and actions,
that reinforce the hurt and reactions.
Blessed that we learn to forget and forgive,
The gates of heaven for the contemplative.