I’m on a hillside building balcony. And it is past midnight.
Fifteen years ago, the conversation was about this building collapsing.
Tonight, here we are looking at the Segar Hills which leads to Pandan, and the police camp, where they train the riot police for “untoward actions on election day”. Of course, untoward actions are only the domain of one faction but not the other. Welcome to Malaysia, where things are about the lens you use to look at it.
But on this balcony, there are all kinds.
More than ten of us.
Suresh or Mabuk (not a nickname which inspires confidence) asks me on who will win this election. He asks me, am I not close to the folks in Invoke? Good question.
Devan who is counting the beers left used to manage a farm space in Perak. He talks about how his city ass learnt so much over his time getting a harvest. There are humble lessons.
It’s my brother’s birthday, he turns, well he turns an age. He is absolutely convinced that Pakatan, well he is a PKR member, will win this election.
He reminds me to keep quiet. I will be. I am younger.
There are three boys four boys from St John’s, which means they are from the same school from the prime minister. I have to admit, there is not much love for the prime minister from them four.
There is Indon, we are not being racist, because he is a Tamil. They call him Indon, because his dad was in the foreign ministry and when posted to Jakarta, he brought the family together. So the name Indon, stuck.
Well he is on the balcony too.
Kumaran is the host, and he is kind enough to host the lads for my brother’s birthday.
He adds that the balcony, with the wind blowing while the lights of Dusun Tua light up. The breeze is surreal.
I mean, election or no election.
We overlook homes filled with families, and sometimes these parties forget that an election is about people and their families.
It’s about disused space and depressed economies.
On the left, down the hill is the old Masterskills University campus. The scene of the crime. Where they left thousands of students with debts but not a degree worthy of a graduate’s pay.
That is a piece of Dusun Tua, a piece of my home, not just an electoral abstraction. They win, they lose, but they all leave. We, those remaining, we live this reality.
Heavy, to consider, past midnight this night, as the rain blusters on my screen.
Just a taste of Malaysia.