A master of the well-selected detail and the sharpest metaphor, Usman Awang continues the “protest” tradition which, for some, began in the Sejarah Melayu, or Malay Annals, where injustice was not passively endured by the rakyat.
Melayu itu orang yang bijaksana
Nakalnya bersulam jenaka
Budi bahasanya tidak terkira
Kurang ajarnya tetap santun
Jika menipu pun masih bersopan
Bila mengampu bijak beralas tangan.
Melayu itu berani jika bersalah
Kecut takut kerana benar,
Janji simpan di perut
Selalu pecah di mulut,
Biar mati adat
Jangan mati anak.
Melayu di tanah Semenanjung luas maknanya:
Jawa itu Melayu, Bugis itu Melayu
Banjar juga disebut Melayu,
Minangkabau memang Melayu,
Keturunan Acheh adalah Melayu,
Jakun dan Sakai asli Melayu,
Arab dan Pakistani, semua Melayu
Mamak dan Malbari serap ke Melayu
Malah mua’alaf bertakrif Melayu Dalam sejarahnya
Melayu itu pengembara lautan
Melorongkan jalur sejarah zaman
Begitu luas daerah sempadan
Sayangnya kini segala kehilangan
Melayu itu kaya falsafahnya
Kias kata bidal pusaka
Akar budi bersulamkan daya
Gedung akal laut bicara
Malangnya Melayu itu kuat bersorak
Terlalu ghairah pesta temasya
Sedangkan kampung telah tergadai
Sawah sejalur tinggal sejengkal
tanah sebidang mudah terjual
Meski telah memiliki telaga
Tangan masih memegang tali
Sedang orang mencapai timba
Berbuahlah pisang tiga kali
Melayu itu masih bermimpi
Walaupun sudah mengenal universiti
Masih berdagang di rumah sendiri.
Berkelahi cara Melayu
Menikam dengan pantun
Menyanggah dengan senyum
Marahnya dengan diam
Merendah bukan menyembah
Meninggi bukan melonjak.
Watak Melayu menolak permusuhan
Setia dan sabar tiada sempadan
Tapi jika marah tak nampak telinga
Musuh dicari ke lubang cacing
Tak dapat tanduk telinga dijinjing
Maruah dan agama dihina jangan
Hebat amuknya tak kenal lawan
Berdamai cara Melayu indah sekali
Silaturrahim hati yang murni
Maaf diungkap senantiasa bersahut
Tangan diulur sentiasa bersambut
Luka pun tidak lagi berparut
Baiknya hati Melayu itu tak terbandingkan
Selagi yang ada sanggup diberikan
Sehingga tercipta sebuah kiasan:
“Dagang lalu nasi ditanakkan
Suami pulang lapar tak makan
Kera di hutan disusu-susukan
Anak di pangkuan mati kebuluran”
Bagaimanakah Melayu abad dua puluh satu
Masihkan tunduk tersipu-sipu?
Jangan takut melanggar pantang
Jika pantang menghalang kemajuan;
Jangan segan menentang larangan
Jika yakin kepada kebenaran;
Jangan malu mengucapkan keyakinan
Jika percaya kepada keadilan
Jadilah bangsa yang bijaksana
Memegang tali memegang timba
Memiliki ekonomi mencipta budaya
Menjadi tuan di negara Merdeka
‘The People Poet’ (July 12th, 1929 – November 29th, 2001).
Allahyarham Usman Awang; also known as Tongkat Warrant was born on the 12th of July 1929 in Kuala Sedili, Johore. He had been a farmer, office boy, policeman, proof-reader, and the editor for Dewan Sastera (the zenith of his career). He received the National Laureate Award in 1983, SEA Write Award in 1982, and an Honorary Doctorate in Writing from the University of Malaya in 1983. He produced more than 200 poems and most people would forever fondly remember his plays Tamu di Bukit Kenny and Uda dan Dara.
Excerpt from Kakiseni.com
Usman had produced an anthology called Dari Derita Bangsa (From the Sufferings of a Nation). It contains works from 21 prominent local poets. The most significant thing is that the anthology is closed by two poems by Usman, “Jentayu Yang Luka” (Wounded Phoenix), dedicated to Wan Azizah, and “Saudara Anwar Ibrahim”, for the occasion of his birthday. In them Usman expressed his candid support for their struggle to establish justice, freedom and truth. They were his last poems.
Excerpt from Detik Daily
Usman Awang’s life-long concern for the poor, the oppressed, the marginalised is found not only in his poems but in his short stories, essays and drama as well as his novel. Some of his closest friends may feel that he was a socialist at heart but it is unnecessary to attach a label to a concern for social justice that was culled from lived experiences and not from a political manifesto or party politics. Usman Awang’s “politics” were born of a deep empathy for the suffering of a poor farmer like Pak Utih, or a rebel in the jungle awaiting violent death, or an ice-cream seller hawking his wares in the heart of a busy metropolis. In fact the idealism and, in some poems, the romantic sentimentality, is the very opposite of the hardened practicality which must guide politicians, government and opposition alike.
A master of the well-selected detail and the sharpest metaphor, Usman Awang continues the “protest” tradition which, for some, began in the Sejarah Melayu, or Malay Annals, where injustice was not passively endured by the rakyat. In clever language usage (innuendoes and sarcasms), in subtle acts of defiance or outright accusations (e.g. the peasant women who protested loudly when their cooked rice was stolen by members of the defeated King’s retinue after the fall of Malacca), the people in The Malay Annals, aristocratic or common folk, indict injustice.
Excerpt from Aliran.com
link to Haslina Usman Awang’s website: Memoriku…My Memoirs
GM: ” Gajah mati meninggalkan tulang, harimau mati meninggalkan belang, manusia mati meninggalkan nama” – Elephant died leaving its skeleton, Tiger died leaving its stripe, a human died leaving his name (legacy).