On this very special day (where we expatriates overseas still have to work, lucky you all) what do I want to write. I thought of blogging in Bahasa, which for me and my lack of fluency requires time and an alert mind to do a decent job, but it has been a long day, so perhaps another time.
I came across an old book in my place called "Cheritera Seri Rama" by Farid Mohd Onn published in 1965 by DBP - note the old fashioned spelling! I thought on this Merdeka Day, there may be a very special lesson for us Malaysians in that story.
The Ramayana is one of the most popular, if not the most popular, epics of Hinduism to come out of India. To many, it's a religious story akin to biblical tales, while to others, it's a wondrous Indian classic.
It's more than a tale of good versus evil. The most interesting aspect of the saga is that of the relationship between Rama and Sita, or in Bahasa, Seri Rama and Sita Dewi. Many Ramayana scholars have acquired their PhD from analysing the relationship a million ways, upside down, downside up, sideways and every which way.
The lesson for us Malaysian today is the inexplicable nature of that relationship, particularly from Rama's behaviour, which has puzzled scholars throughout the centuries. Why did such a so-called righteous hero like Seri Rama treat his partner Sita Dewi with such distrust, lack of respect and injustice, not once but on two separate occasions?
Rama was the hero of the saga, an avatar of Vishnu born on earth to save the world and the heavens from Ravana or in Bahasa, Rawana. Dewi Sita was his loyal partner. Together, with Seri Rama's brother, Laksamana, the three left Ayodha on a pre-destined mission.
They went through trials and tribulation. In the course of their mission until their eventual triumphant return to Ayodha, Seri Rama accused Sita Dewi twice of infidelity, even though she was innocent. Each time Sita Dewi was forced to prove her purity by ordeal.
But inspite of her repetitive demonstration of virtue, she was considered a tainted partner. Sita Dewi was never accepted by Seri Rama as a loyal and full member of the Ayodha family.
That was what had puzzled scholars, that such a man as Seri Rama could be so narrow minded and succumb to acts of injustice. Some of the scholars wrote interesting views on why Rama acted like so, but that's how they obtained their PhDs. The reality was that Rama acted unjustly.
Tell me, why does this story of the initially happy trio that finally came to a grief where a loyal member was treated unjustly, and with distrust and disrespect, has a moral lesson for us? Why so on on this particular day?