The thing that should not be

That is that title of a Metallica song that describes my feelings while writing this. Angry. Well, anyone who knows me will tell you that I can only be so angry, so by other's standard this would described as "annoyed". And what thing could annoy me so much today? Well, it is the word "Race". No, it's not the type of race where people try to reach the finish line the first, it's the type that compartmentalises people into groups based on skin colour, language, facial features, culture and religion.

My very first baju melayu made by my mother
This is very annoying to me because I was brought up very non-racial. I was brought up with strong Islamic values and was always told that I was a Muslim. I didn't know that I was Malay until I came back to Malaysia. I was already 9 years old by then. I was born in Wales when my parents were still studying at University. Due to that fact, and the fact my father was very active in FOSIS I was always left with my Pakistani Nanny who was also my neighbour when we were living in Cardiff. I have never met her until I brought my parents back to Cardiff before my graduation. My parents reconnected with their old friends in Cardiff. The first time I met her I was surprised that she hugged me. My mum was equally surprised. Mum said it was probably because she had already thought of me as her own son. I don't know. I also attended Sunday school at the mosque in Cardiff as a young boy. I mixed around with Arabs, Pakistani/Indians and Africans alike. Back then we were all just Muslims. I went to comprehensive school in Cardiff, Kitchener Primary. There I went to school with people from all races, black, Asian, Welsh, English... Back then they were all just friends. Things were simple when you were young. I remember a time when a teacher asked me what the Malay word was for Thank you. Back then I did not know the word as I was taught to use "Jazaakallah hu Khair". After asking my mum only could I tell my teacher what the word was. I had never used terima kasih before that.
My primary school class very multi racial   
When I came to Malaysia in July 1990 my father worked at UTM in Jalan Semarak, i.e in KL. We settled in a Malay majority neighbourhood of Lembah Keramat. As I discovered later in life through one of my geography projects, Lembah Keramat was formed to urbanise the Malays who in Malaysia are the majority ethnic group but were not very urbanised at the time. That explained why at school I never encountered any students that were not Malay. At secondary school we had one or two Chinese seniors, but my year they were all Malay. Moving to KUSESS later it was the same story. We had one Indian guy in my year and the other years had negligible non-Malay population. In chemistry terms we'd call that "trace levels". The whole period of schooling in Malaysia was the time I was introduced to these racist attitude that was alien to me at that time. I think the story is similar to any other people brought up in an almost mono-ethnic area in suburban Kuala Lumpur. 

After SPM I got into KMYS to do my A-Levels. This place was NOT government run. This means that the non-Malay population was more than what I was used to at school. This was very refreshing. I always enjoy mindsets that are different, different point of views on subject matters and I think KMYS was the place where my current world view first developed into what it is now. My closest friends were non Malays. Despite this I did not lose my religion or "fall into a life of sin" as some hardliners would make you think. Religion is a choice and one must be confident with one's beliefs. If one is, then nothing can touch your beliefs. In fact through explaining my religion to other of other faiths, I think my faith is indeed stronger.
My A-Level gang was multi racial
At university, a new side to racism was introduced to me. The first friends I made on my first day was a Yorkshireman called David Wilks and a Scotish-Iraqi guy called Hayder Al-Khairulla. I then realised that even among Englishmen there were differences in them. And through Hayder I connected with more Arabs. My class has a few of them, all Al-somethings... They were mainly Omani and Iraqi. The funny thing is that these Arabs would one day say "Yeah, we're arabs! we're one" and the next day when a certain issue is raised they'd suddenly say, but I'm Iraqi, I'm Omani... =S. Even my Irish landlord said that he'd take good care of me as he knows what it was like to be "different". Apparently Irishmen had a very hard time in the 50's and 60's. At university I never lived with Malaysians. My flatmates were always non-Malaysians. The first year I was living with 2 guys from the Maldives, a UK-Bangladeshi - Shueb who lived with me throughout my University life and briefly a Palastinian guy. 2nd and third year I lived with the same persons, Nick and Shueb. We got along fine like normal. I still pay Nick and Shueb a visit everytime I am in the UK. Despite having limited contact with Malaysians in Leeds, I was still elected the president for the Malaysian Students society twice (i think mainly cos no one really wanted to do all the work) and I was also Vice captain of the University Taekwondo club which was the largest sports society in the university. I doubt I'd been elected if I were prejudice towards any group of people let alone had I'd been not open with people of other races or had I only stuck to my community exclusively. You see, to strive anywhere one must be inclusive in that society or social setting. 

Wearing my baju melayu to lectures after Eid prayers was no problem for me. the maths behind still scare me till today! how on earth did I get through university!?

Taekwondo introduced me to all sorts of people too.

Fast forward to the present. Racism has raised it's ugly head to me again but as it is already past mid night, I shall continue tomorrow. It has been a long day for me today both physically and emotionally. Goodnight everyone and hello last week of March! :s Oh how time flies!