Mereka Tak Lagi Menangis

Salam. Nama saya Mari. Saya dari negara Filipina. Umur saya - ah, tak apa lah.

Yes, I have hardcore Bahasa Melayu skills. I do! I can converse with taxi drivers, shop keepers, and people talking about their studies and their families. I do a good job of listening in on conversations, too. Public, pantry-type discussions, mind you. I don't really make a habit of eavesdropping when it comes to private exchanges.

I had to take two semesters worth of Bahasa Melayu classes when I took up my Master's degree. Some of my classmates didn't see the point of it, but I made sure to learn a lot from the course. I had dreams of being fluent in the language. But because of lack of practice... well, that dream could still come true if I push myself hard enough.

Satu, dua, tiga, empat, lima. Some words, like "five", are the same in Malay and Filipino. Kanan is also kanan, langit is also langit, and some words have similar sounds. There are some also found in Ilocano, my hometown's dialect (which I honestly can't speak that fluently). I'm told ikan is fish for both and jalan is almost the same as dalan. Sometimes, when I go home, I try to converse in Ilocano. But most times my mouth seems to want to spew up some Bahasa Melayu instead.

Cordilleran pronunciation is not far from the one used in BM. "E" as in keluar is not that of a problem for me because we don't pronounce "dinengdeng" the hard way in my hometown unlike other neighboring Ilocano-speaking provinces.

Perhaps that was one reason why I unwittingly landed on a BM poetry-interpreting stint. I unknowingly entered through the recommendation of my BM2 lecturer. I thought he just wanted me to read a few lines. Little did I know, reading a few lines meant that I was auditioning for a slot in the contest already.

The piece he gave me was "Mereka Tak Lagi Menangis". They're not crying anymore? Well, after I got into the contest (held a week after the auditions), I got tips on diction, interpretation, and could I set my recording against some music?

"Alright," I said. "I'll read it while playing my guitar."

Well that was an experience to remember. And guess what? I won second place! An African guy who memorized his piece and used creative gestures won the grand prize.

They didn't give out any cash or gift cards as prizes. They did give us trophies though. And I got a video and an experience to remember to take away as my own prize.

Lesson learned? Unexpected wins can happen if you say yes and allow yourself to be available.


Video Screenshot.