Monday, July 27, 2009

Yasmin Ahmad 1958-2009 - a repost.

This is one of the most beautiful tribute written by Pete Teo to the late Yasmin Ahmad. I think many feel the same as he does but have trouble looking for the right words to express. The below is a repost from his blog. It is very very very beautiful. Very real. Many of us know Yasmin from a distance. Some famous person somewhere. But few of us have the golden opportunity to 'connect' with her like how Pete did. Nevertheless, we share the same sentiment on her departure (ironically, I watched Yojiro Takita's Departures yesterday and oh how I bawled - a movie that makes you feel so terribly lonely that you want to reach out to all other lonely people out there. They should create a support group for that online).

I've only had two personal encounters with Yasmin all through my advertising life. Once, I wrote her an email with a very short line. Asking her how on earth did she come out with the legendary Petronas ads. And she replied very simply, "Just write from the heart". It sounds simple but isn't the easiest thing to do. It's amazing how so many people are not reconciled with what's in their heart. And till today. I try to write strategies from the heart. And it's crazy how people could feel your passion in the boardroom. And I remembered her.

The second time I had a close encounter with her, was during a talk organized by Kakiseni on the arts and culture in Malaysia. Somehow, as usual, these things always lead to heated political debates and discussions. And I remember holding the mic and telling her how much more nationalistic I am, how much more patriotic I am, how much more Malaysian I feel whenever I'm OUT of the country. Because I tell foreigners I am a Malaysian. The paradox is, when in my own soil, I have to define myself as Chinese. That's utter bullshit.

And when Pete wrote (as you will read below) about how so many talented and 'frustrated' Malaysians left the country in hope to find a better life out there, and she would cry for these people - that sentiment resonates deep within me. I remember telling my friends too. If I ever do migrate, it only means one thing. I've given up hope on my country. And God willing. That will never happen. Hey Pete. If you need another gutsy soldier. Here I am.


Rest in peace, you crazy lovable cow.

I trust you will be watching over your parents and hordes of children from wherever you’ll be. It’s scarcely 24 hours since you left and they already miss you terribly. Your mother is taking it particularly badly. She refused to leave your grave earlier today though she had not slept for days. She was still there when I left.

Anyway, my phone has not stopped ringing. Commiserations, condolences and assorted newshounds seeking sound-bites. I gratefully accepted the first two and turned away the last. In fact, I got a little short with a reporter who wanted an obituary quote when my head was still spinning from watching the undertakers move your body into the hearse all wrapped in shroud. I mean, what the fuck happened to respect for the dead?

You can’t blame them I guess. The country is abuzz with news that one of her brightest has gone. You’ve been all over the front pages and someone just told me that 8TV is doing a tribute on you as we speak. But I am not going to watch it though. I am not yet ready to leave this space where I can be alone with you.

Elza messaged me on Facebook earlier to say that she is left with a big vacant hole in her heart now that you are gone. Poor thing - she’s been strong for everyone all day and is now left to fend for herself at 2am. So I told her that the hole is where your ghost will, once it has unpacked and settled in, fill up her heart and inspire her to live a fuller life than she would otherwise do. I hope I am right. If I am not, then there will be an awful lot of people walking around with unfilled holes in their hearts. Not so pretty.

By the way, I finally got around to watching Yojiro Takita’s ‘Departures’. I am not surprised that you kept badgering me to watch it. It is a very beautiful film. I suppose I could succumb to temptation and speculate upon how you loved a film about death shortly before you decided to die on us - but that would be bullshit – because the film is really about how to live. I know you loved it exactly like the way you loved ‘I Go’ - because it is about those who are staying rather than those who have gone.

I am sorry I never got round to showing you the ‘making of’ film I shot and edited for ‘Chocolate’. Unless you possessed super human powers whilst in a coma, you wouldn’t have seen the trailer of the film I put up on the 15Malaysia Facebook Page either. Anyway - it’s too late to show them to you now - so I’ll just have to go with the assumption that you approve of them. Either that, or you have my permission to call me at 3am again, as you did when you first heard ‘I Go’ and wanted to use it for ‘Talentime’.

Still, I am glad that I did get a chance to reconcile with you your decision to use the abstract ‘philosophical’ ending of ‘Chocolate’ rather than the more accessible ‘political’ ending. It took me a couple of weeks to get your point – i.e. that politics is useless without compassion – but better slow than dead, as they say…

Better slow than dead. Haw.

Lame joke aside, I do hope you’ll find time to politely ask the big guy upstairs to stop sending so many political charlatans and opportunists to this lovely country of ours. You once told me that you would cry if I were to migrate out of frustration like so many of our best and brightest - well, now that you’ve buggered off and left us, we could do with as much help from the Almighty as possible. Tell him I’ll give up smoking if he agreed to send a few more compassionate and gutsy dreamers like you instead.

Oh well, I shouldn’t ramble on. You probably have a boat to catch or something. Please give my regards to my grandma if you see her. Tell her I am doing okay though I’ve recently lost a friend to the ferryman…

Be safe on your way.

Miss you already,
Your Pedro.


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