Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence



By Rafaat Haji Hamzah

The malay so-and-so bin the muslim so-and-so²
Today the time has come
The day has arrived
That you will witness
That death is true
That being alone in a small dark pit is true
That flesh and bones are food for worms is true

The day has come
And we see with our own eyes

Everything we watch on the TV screen
the widescreen is real

That the killing of men is real
That the rape of stepchildren is real
That the murder of a sinless young child is also real

That the mother is stoned on drugs
That the stepfather is bloated with lust
That the grandmother wears tattoos
All this is for real

And what we read in the papers is also true.

That two siblings hacked people with parangs
is true.

That someone was stabbed to death in a Kuala Lumpur condo is true.

That elder brothers violated their sister after watching porn
is true.

That the bestial ustaz with ten wives raped his own flesh and blood is
absolutely true!

What we encounter every day
What we see all the time
What we watch on the drama serial Hanyut
Is utterly true!


That every single act committed in this world
will be accounted for

Have faith!
That whatever we do will be judged!

Believe it!
Oh you who sit behind tables
Oh you who stand at the pulpit
Oh you who are called to be ministers
Oh you who are deemed gurus
Oh caliphs of the times and your followers

All of this no longer a nightmare
Not even a dream
But a chilling reality

Believe it!
In the name of all truth
In the name of God and creed
By keeping silent,
We too have sinned!


¹Talqin: exhortation at the close of a Muslim burial service, addressed to the deceased

²Polan: the Malay word used in the original is a term for an unnamed person

Translated by Annaliza Bakri, with new material transcreated by the poet

NOTE: This poem originally appeared in Malay in Yang Bilang (Singapore: Cokelat).


Rafaat Hamzah

Rafaat Haji Hamzah is a household name in both the television and theatre scenes in Singapore. The author of noted plays such as Merdeka and Hablur, his poetry has appeared in Malay newspapers and radio since the late 1980s. After more than twenty years of writing and performing poetry, Hamzah recently published his first poetry collection, Yang Bilang.

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