POEM TRANSLATION ECHOES 482 WITH NOTES
shade by canopies
trunks paved park serpentine track
light from above crowns
greet by passing friends
shock by aging white hair lock
glad breathe and walk well
crows caw crack conflict
fugitive preaches sermon
in English, fused suit
cite and incite texts
in sensitive tongue
We stroll almost daily in the park. We see the tree as whole: trunk, canopies and crown. We are grateful to each division and the whole. It is equivalent to our body and mind. It is our shrine; we seek refuge and salvation through it; not external. We learn from nature and catch up with modern technology to enhance quality of lives; over indulgence on either will affect the balance of living. However, we decay faster than nature, but light from our crowns hold us intact; keep us aware of changing circumstances. The choice at every juncture may lead us to different trajectories and outcome. The youth in Hong Kong and elsewhere have much to learn. The Trade War will impact all of us. We need a clear mind to face them. The Arts will give us a different perspective of living; knowing the faked from the real.
When we encounter friends from afar or have not seen them for some time, it is indeed joyous occasion to meet them. (有朋自遠方來、不亦樂乎 : The Analects of Confucius).We build bonds within the family, and foster good relate with old friends.
However, we were mutually shocked (悲白发, Li Bai : Jian Jin Jiu) by our aging appearances. Indeed we have both aged, but happy we are both walking and breathing well. To be alive and healthy is always a blessing; we are grateful for our mobility. We exchanged greetings and engaged in small talk about lives and living.
In this brief happy meeting, the crows caw was annoying; its bad omen for its population growth implied the deterioration of the environment. Indeed there are many bad news in the country: endless corrupt practices, imported radioactive waste, educational fallacies, failed pre-election promises, crisis of good leadership and racialism. The latest was about the racial slur made by the Indian fugitive, who was granted permanent residency in the country, and given VIP status. That right was denied to many Malaysians. The minorities are not happy with his crude messages, demanding minorities who are citizens of the country to return to China, India, but not Indonesia or Bangla Desh. The insult was silently approved by leaders who preached endlessly about fostering national unity.
The fugitive doctor is indeed knowledgeable and learned. He could quote all scriptures with ease: book, chapter, verse, line and even page. A lot of showmanship, but, no one bothers to check authenticities of his quotes. He delivered his sermons in English. It’s a surprise that the Malaysian audiences could understand him at all, with the poor English standard in the country. This is even more surprising that people in the east coast states came to his sermon in large groups, meeting the messiah. No wonder they welcomed him as “A tiger in Islam”, with a picture of a lion. They both belong to the Big Cat family, except they don’t purr. The lion is considered as king of the beast; so either he is a dharma king or he is a beast of the jungle. That was beyond me to judge. Unlike most religious leader, he adorned a western suit, not full suit, but glued or fused. He cited text with ease, but incited and inflamed others in comparative religion in a multiracial and multi-religious nation. I know nothing about comparative religion to comment, but it is vain to me for people to compare, as the faith is more personal to each. It is excellent to speak of peace, love and compassion, but we need to feel it in the heart and soul. However, many were agitated by his encyclopedic knowledge and memory; others were offended by the same sermons. They did not feel the peace or love of his messages. Being knowledgeable is never the same as being wise, for it is mere accumulation of the known, the past, without self- awareness. However, we are in the world of marketing, social media and worshipping of the famous, it is easy to be caught in such frenzy.