Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Most Difficult Malay Word - Sukachita

When one lives overseas, and before the time of the Internet, there would be 2 ways of looking up a Malay word - ask or look in the dictionary.

I was a MARA scholarship holder for my undergraduate degrees. One day, I received a light blue feather-weight aerogram (air-mail letter) from my future sponsor and employer - Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). The letter was written entirely in Malay except for my address. I read and read, and read, and read, over and over, over and over... there was one word which I did not know - the word 'Sukachita'.

I knew other words  - suka, chita, chinta, but not this superword - sukachita. I went round to ask the other Malay students for the meaning of the word, 'sukachita'. Nobody knew what that word meant. I called up people to ask what the word 'sukachita' meant but nobody knew. So I was left with a letter with a long Malay word which I did not know what it meant, and nobody knew it either. The haunt went on for the rest of my life overseas - about 10-11 years. 

So, what does 'sukachita' mean to you? It is now spelled as 'sukacita'. What is sukachita or sukacita?

Here are the answers...
  1. There is Jalan Sukachita in Singapore. 
  2. There is an old Malay book involving Hikayat Abdullah that uses the word: http://bl.academia.edu/AnnabelGallop/Papers/1164413/Cerita_kapal_asap
  3. It is a word used in the old Malay language, especially in Malay silat involving Hang Tuah: http://warisansunankalijaga.blogspot.com/2011/01/hang-tuah-bapa-seni-silat-melayu-sejati.html
  4. It is used in a missionary bulletin entitled Messenger/Pesuruh which was written in English and Malay, and used for spreading the Christian mission: http://www.adventistarchives.org/docs/SEAUM/SEAUM19590801-V09-08__C.pdf
  5. Same as above: http://www.adventistarchives.org/docs/SEAUM/SEAUM19581201-V08-12__C.pdf [The word 'dukachita' appears in the case of death or obituary.] A lot of Malays subscribed to its lessons called 'Suloh Hidup', without knowing that is was in fact a Christian mission written in old Malay. 
  6. It is a word cited in Sabri Zain's comments on the genesis of the Malay Annals, which covers the times of Hikayat Munshi Abdullah and also Sultan Mahmud of Malacca: http://www.sabrizain.org/malaya/library/variants.pdf
  7. It is a word that even Sir F. A. Swettenham tried to translate or interpret, along with other common words such as these - pregnant = bun-chit, pot-bellied = bun-tut, the buttocks = bun-toh, and many more Malay words at this link on A Manual of the Malay Language (boleh pecah perut gelak): http://www.archive.org/stream/manualofmalaylan00maxwrich/manualofmalaylan00maxwrich_djvu.txt . Scroll and read all the words there, right till the bottom. 
  8. It is a word in Shellabear's book of English-Malay translation of 1916: http://archive.org/stream/englishmalaydict00shelrich/englishmalaydict00shelrich_djvu.txt
  9. It is a word in Project Gutenberg 2008 which is free for recycle: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/25604/25604-h/25604-h.htm

So, what does 'sukachita' or 'sukacita' mean? It means happy! It is used in the context to convey a happy message, and in doing so, should also make the recipient happy. 

So, why did so many people choose to ignore the most difficult Malay word? The answer is because nobody cares about what Malay words actually mean, especially rare species or words that pop up in unexpected places at unexpected times - eg, overseas and without an English-Malay dictionary, and without Internet or hp, etc (before Internet and mobile technologies). So now you see, technologies we have today, make learning easy, so easy that you can blame your 5 pancaindera if you cannot succeed or fail to learn the meaning of that most difficult Malay word - sukachita or sukacita.

And that was how I learned Malay, by searching how and when people used the words (contextual meanings) and by asking and trying them out myself. Only my Malay teachers knew the Malay words I did not know and you wouldn't believe that I passed MCE Bahasa Malaysia with a Grade 1, just by learning old Malay words my own way, - by searching way back into history. So my level of Malay and practice of Malayness, is very ancient compared to most of you who know modern Malay and practice modern Malayness etiquette. I still prefer the ancient Malay vocabulary as it conveys a better and more flowery message for something as simple as kanchana (gold). There are many levels of the Malay language and it is worth learning them if you have time. When I attended functions at the Istana Balai Besar, a ceremonial palace, a different level of spoken Malay was used for the 2 days. Malay is not difficult but because we choose to ignore it too often, it becomes difficult for us today. But I can pick up the different types of Malay used at palatial functions and Malay conferences. Even Malay weddings have a totally different set of Malay language. Makes Malay language very interesting to learn and re-learn.

I'm keeping all the Malay letters and messages I received. Hopefully, I will be able to compile a second Malay book for myself. I had published a Malay book for teenagers at my cooking blog. It was difficult to write that book in Malay but I managed somehow.

Angkat Tangan! - A Lesson in Democracy

I don't know what democracy means to you. I thought to write about what democracy means to me. 

When I was a small girl of age 3, 4 or 5 (not 6), I recall I answered my dad but he took it wrongly and so I had this chili paste brutally rubbed on my baby soft lips! It stung so badly that I couldn't even cry! I was then made to lie in a dry 'drain' inside our Banda Hilir house and let the sting fade by itself - it took 3 days for the sting to disappear, mind you. That was the democracy I had learned from presumably speaking up. That was democracy learned first-hand. I later learned that that 'mouth torture' was called 'chili mulut'. So I have avoided all chili and hot & spicy for life, just based on that ugly experience. But I grow chili for people, FOC, and minus the chili mulut thingy.

When I went to Standard 1E at Sultanah Asma Primary School in Jalan Langgar, Alor Setar, there was another experience of democracy. This time it involved a teacher reading out our position in class. One by one, she read out our position in class. I waited a long time for my name to be called and to know my position in class. I was the last name called and I was the last girl in my class, which was also the last class in my school! That meant I was an idiot! Of course, I cried when I knew I was the last girl in my class, even though I couldn't even count from 1 to 10 or write my full name. I wasn't ashamed but I was surprised that I was indeed the last girl. If I had my way, then I would have asked the teacher to tell me in private that I was the last girl in the last class and in the entire prestigious girls' school. There was no privacy for girls like me - the 'last of the best'. It is thus very surprising that I have rose against all odds and become a professor in at least 5 fields. Who would ever dream that this little girl who was the 'last of the last of the last' would ever become a world-class professor and much admired? What am I admired for? You can ask all my admirers - there are >600 of them in Facebook alone, and >30,000 who were my students. Ask them. 

So what is democracy? Democracy is looking at how others do things wrong and trying to do things right my own way. Is democracy really democracy today? In politics? At work? At home? Depends on whose side you are and which flag you choose to put on your flagpole. My parents and siblings all chose the blue flag and 'paksa-rela' that I too choose the blue flag. Till today, I don't have a flag. What is a flag for anyway when things are fatally wrong and I can't make them right? I have heard all the propaganda from radio to TV (and on 2 TVs and so many channels). I think I have come to a point of 'burnt out from endless stupid propaganda'. Come to think of it, what are brains for? There are so many problems affecting humans and our lives today and yet we are quarrelling even about the tiny specs of tahi kelawar dust that drift into our houses from our old roofs. Money politics aside, I think we have to use our 250g-brains and start to think. Think hard and see what we want and what we need to do. Think hard to see how we need to do things better for ourselves and others. Much talk leads to more lies and the idle minds wants wine, women and songs, forever. 

I think we are all lazy bumps! We all want an easy life without much brain, effort, ATP and muscle activity. We have become very lazy Malaysians. So lazy that all we want to do is find fault and quarrel, doesn't matter whether it is about the bees being constipated and not producing enough honey or why the pisang tastes like durians, why the world goes round and round, why the moon didn't shine last night, why the world is so hot, etc. We can find endless topics to fight about but how many are thinking and trying to put this world right? What is right and what is wrong? Even my 13-year old daughter can tell you what you think is right is definitely wrong. So why do seemingly mature adult fight? Fight where? Everywhere! In Parliament is the worst I have ever witnessed on TV! Ini kah dikatakan negara aman dan maju? Being the idiot I was in the 'last of the last of the last' .... I think I am not an idoit anymore. The ones who can't make proper use of their brains and fight and bash all the time from morn till dark, they are the actual idiots. They can take my place as 'the last of the last of the last'. I graduated from being an idiot to a professor.

I saw all the green and blue flags and the keris on 2 tones, etc... I think we are wasting a lot of money printing and staging those. Save all your money and don't stage anymore flags anywhere. They make you feel great when you drive past them on country-side drives but the ugly politics don't disappear at all. I have lived so long in this country and outside, I don't like dirty politics and all the propaganda and hitting out at each other. Feels like the cannibals are back for a village fight. Have some sense of responsibility and make our country a truly democratic one. That is my wish for the upcoming 13GE. I don't want to be a politician as it is less glamorous than being a professor, and has nothing to do with self-worth and a worthy brain, unless we all work hard to clean up our politics. I don't like it at all and I'm not going out to vote at the 13GE - I will eat, sleep and read my books at home, forget the stupid people and stupid politics out there. I want to be different as that is what I call 'democracy'.

WASTE THY TIME NOT. THE FIRE BURNS FOR WHOM ARE NITS!

IF YOU CAN'T BEAT THEM, DO IT YOUR SIMPLE WAY!

SUCCESS COMES WITH BEAUTIFUL WORDS AND AN OPEN MIND

A LIFE LIVED EASY IS A MEADOW FOR THE BRAIN TO GROW

Our brain is plastic; use it, nurture it, let it grow and grow and grow....until you die! Then it will stop growing because you are no longer there, and you don't need it anymore.

Never believe what others do are always right. They do wrong rightfully.
Never believe what others say are always from the heart. They lie the very minute their mouths open!

Believe in yourself. That's D * E * M * O * C * R * A * C * Y.
Democracy is the rightful use of your brain willfully, for right things.

Knowing where you stand among 28 million Malaysians is the greatest and happiest feeling a child could ever have at age 53! You read that right!

Dr Nuruddin bin Mohamed Salleh


From RTM TV1: His wife is Datin Seri Noraini Jane bt Kamarul Ariffin. The couple has 3 children - son Datuk Ahmad Nazim Azlan Shah and two daughters, Raja Eminah Alliyah and Raja Bainunisa Safia.
From Arkib Negara: Tan Sri Kamarul Ariffin bin Mohamed Yassin was former Chairman of the National Art Gallery Board of Trustees (1972-2004). His biodata can be read at Arkib Negara website: http://www.arkib.gov.my/en/kamarul_ariffin
From my research on The Early Malay Doctors (TEMD): Mohamed Yassin bin Mohamed Salleh was the eldest of 5 siblings, the youngest being Dr Nuruddin bin Mohamed Salleh, a dental surgeon. Dr Nuruddin's son is Assoc. Prof. Sr Azlan Raofuddin, a lecturer in the School of Housing, Building and Planning (HBP) at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in Penang. Blog on The Early Malay Doctors (TEMD): http://theearlymalaydoctors.blogspot.com/

From my manuscript for publication:
Agenda Daily. 2012. Jenazah Raja Ashman Shah selamat disemadikan di Kuala Kangsar http://www.agendadaily.com/Muka-Hadapan/al-fatihah-raja-kecil-sulung-perak-mangkat.html
Arkib Negara Malaysia. 2012. Arkib Negara Malaysia Resource Centre. Know the Personages – Tan Sri Kamarul Ariffin bin Mohamed Yassin. http://www.arkib.gov.my/en/kamarul_ariffin
Dr Nuruddin’s father converted to Islam upon his marriage to Yang Munah bt Haji Omar, and assumed the name Mohamed Salleh. Dr Nuruddin was the youngest of five siblings namely, Mohamed Yassin, Nong Halijah, Teh and Siti Hajar. Mohamed Yassin was the father of Tan Sri Kamarul Ariffin, a respectable lawyer turned banker and corporate player.