Opposite the straits of Malacca,
beneath a headstone blurred,
and white-washed sepulchre, lay in stone
a great Malay hero with nothing shown
No grandiose stories, nor amour or pleat,
Just a small exhibition of the absurd—
A tomb that extends to ten feet.
Such is the plainness of Muslim iconoclasm,
That it scarcely attracts your gaze, until
You notice the sombreness, still
elicited by his valorous legacy; and
the famous allusion emblazoned nearby,
That the Malays will never die
On this land.
“Takkan Melayu Hilang di dunia”
The tomb lies unassuming,
But in death, its occupant will not know how
His fame will spur on a voyage
for his race, through triumph and damage,
Together his progeny;
in richness and poverty;
Cast away the yoke of oppression;
As on the day in Midian
by Merdeka. Rigidly they
Persisted, linked together through the centuries
through the long lengths
Of time. Against powers that rose and fell,
The Portuguese, the Dutch, and the teeming womb of royal kings.
Of which they were made subjects.
Subjects of a foreign king
But also to murder, torture, and exploitation
Which through the ages
Washed at their identity.
Yet like the man in the tomb,
they were brave.
In war. Fighting the horrible rise of the ancient sun
In bloodshed. Freedom was sought.
Which they wrought, at Bukit Chandu.
Using the same courage of old.
Awakened once more from the tomb.
The passing of time has not changed them still, yet
Unlike Hang Tuah’s tomb, weathered and aged,
their ties that bond: religion, custom and family,
It shall not die. It shall remain.
And so will their bravery and pride,
Stemming from that achromatic grave.
I know now what he said rings true:
His people will always survive.
Cover image by Wikipedia.