Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I have a bone to pick.

Today, we received the directive that those celebrating Ka'amatan -the Harvest Festival- (basically those of Kadazandusun descent) could leave after a half day of work. My boss made a big show of announcing, "This applies to the PURE Kadazandusun only. Sino-Kadazans and others should stay on." Now, I couldn't quite tell if she was joking because she had this retarded half-smile on her face. Of course, everyone looked at me because, hello, I was one of those 'half-breeds' she was referring to.

And I immediately felt annoyed.

I told her, in front of the whole office, that I was just as much Kadazandusun despite my Chinese surname. And it didn't help that my colleagues were teasing how I didn't even speak the language. Fine. So i don't speak the language. Before I continue, perhaps I should explain my dad is 75 percent Kadazandusun and our Chinese surname is part of our Chinese heritage passed on from generation to generation which we are also fiercely proud of. In Sabah, you get plenty of mixed blood - inter-racial marriage is common-place here.

Anyway, so there I was, being told in my face that I shouldn't claim to be Kadazandusun as I had a Chinese surname after all. Now, here's what REALLY ticks me off: Every Chinese New Year, my family practices the whole ang-pow-family-reunion-dinner thing as well. And even WITH my Chinese surname, I don't quite qualify to leave the office early on CNY eve like my other 'pure' Chinese colleagues. Why? Because people claim I'm not pure Chinese because I have Kadazandusun blood.

Can you see what I'm getting at?

It's like a Catch-22. I'm not Kadazandusun enough to celebrate the Harvest Festival, yet I'm also not Chinese enough to celebrate the Chinese New Year. So where does that leave a rojak like me? I think it's really unfair to bounce me around just because I cannot be pigeon-holed into one race. Maybe it hasn't occurred to them that it might actually be possible to belong to more than one ethnic group. Wowee what a brand new concept!

If anything, I feel priviledged having grown up in a home of mixed cultures and traditions. But there are frustrations. Whenever I hang out with Kadazandusun friends, I feel left out because I can't get their lingo and I'm considered the 'mixed Chinese' girl. But with Chinese friends, I'm the Kadazan girl with the Chinese surname but "pity she dunno how to speak Chinese, hor?" For the icing on the cake, my mum is Filipino and yes, whenever I go back to visit my cousins in the Philippines, I'm the cousin who can't speak Tagalog and is "half-Malaysian".

That's why I cherish my true-blue friends who treat Mel as the Mel who loves cats, pasta and can't stop buying shoes. Long live the rojak.

Kotobian do tadau tagazo Ka'amatan to all. May your harvest be bountiful all year round!

p.s: Fridaycat is off to the islands of Mabul, Mataking and Sipadan till the weekend (yes, for 'work') so pardon the silence. Be right back!

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