Patriotism and the hyphenated American.

This article was originally published as a letter in MalaysiaKini.com, Malaysia’s independent press. The Creator’s Syndicate (L.A., California) had written to say that they could not take on any new writers as the cost of launching a writer was too high, so I made myself available to my ‘old’ countrymen. My old countrymen, Malaysian editors and journalists I would gladly answer phones and make coffee for, said, after deep consideration “Welcome Aboard!”.

So, I will soon be writing a column for them. Please join me there as well. The gig is unpaid. As such, what you read is free, unfettered writing from the mind and heart of Anushka Anastasia Solomon, a Malaysian-American poet residing in Evergreen, Colorado. The perspective from at my window will keep the flags of both nations, and perhaps all nations and peoples, flying honorably, harmoniously , truthfully and joyfully high!

Some of my writing will be irreverent and is intended to be an outlet for my irrepressible joy in having come to Christ and found in Him refuge, shelter and sanctuary I could not find in all the Presidents and Prime Minister’s men. None of my writing is ever malicious, and I expect no one of sane mind, to haul me to court. The people are free to hear my voice and throw me a coin for my labors or to walk away, shaking their heads.

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What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child? ~Lin Yutang, author of from Pagan to Christian.

‘I don’t like hyphenated Americans’, pouted my American-Christian friend with pretty blue-eyes and China doll looks. “Oh, and what’s that?”, I asked.

“You know, like African-Americans, Mexican-Americans…” she replied, eyes welling up with tears.

“But…but…I am Malaysian-American, ” I almost blurted but asked instead, mildly, what’s American?

“I don’t know, anymore!” she wailed my blue-eyed porcelain skinned American China doll.

She gave me food for thought. Mulling over her statement, I realized she was not being malicious or racist – just ignorant. Later in our conversation, she evinced this wondering aloud whether Muslims were the people with ‘dots in the middle of their forehead’.

Just for the record, the people, with ‘dots in the middle of their forehead’ are Hindus’. My mother, my grandmothers, my aunts and mother-in-law, all wore dots in the middle of their fore heads and live or lived in the predominantly Muslim multiracial country that is Malaysia.

Once upon a time, Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Buddhists got along very well in Malaysia. It was an era that was not idyllic, but people knew then how to keep both the fires of their faith and love for fellowman alive. Here is an anecdote that demonstrates this.

As a young man, my husband’s father the late Dr. Balasundram, a radiologist trained in the U.K, renounced Malaysian citizenship and left for Sri Lanka where he obtained a scholarship to study at the University of Ceylon in the late 1940s’. When he had completed his studies he returned to Malaysia and was doing his housemanship with Dr. Mahathir Mohammed when he ran into the late and beloved Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia. My father-in-law had the privilege of treating the Prime Minister for stomach troubles. Our beloved Prime Minister was so happy to be relieved of his stomach pains that he scribbled on the back of his cigarette box instructions for the registration department in Malaysia to restore my father-in-law’s Malaysian citizenship. “Take this to the Registration Department,” he said. It was a gentleman’s extension of friendship.

There is something to be learned from this anecdote. It’s profound message transcends the warring and religious politics of this day. There is a beautiful Jewish saying that goes something like this, “They didn’t kill us, let’s eat.” In celebration of all this beautiful and human illustration of the human spirit, I made a Malaysian pandan chiffon cake. Here I am, offering you my countrymen, old and new, …..Peace.

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Pandan Chiffon Cake



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