Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Hazy Shade of Winter?

I was on my trusty kapchai to the market with the missus this morning when this old Simon and Garfunkel tune popped into my head for no apparent reason - until I looked up at the sky and realized how gloomy everything looked.

Yep, the good old haze was back - in Penang at least. And it has been hanging around like an unwanted guest for the past week. The smog has managed to blot out most of the blue sky, leaving only a thick blanket of gloomy grey in its place. Visibility is down to 2-6 km, with the API (Air Pollutant Index) hovering from 53-79. (Unhealthy level is >100). It's all Grey. Dull. Lifeless.

Curiously, nature seems to have imitated reality. This nation is going through one of its most trying times in 50 years of independence as far as good governance is concerned. And in 30 days time we'll be 51. Meanwhile, "the power players" are still going around in circles, encircled and bewildered by the smog. Caught within their own web of deceit. The classic "Damned if I do, Damned if I don't" scenario.

But intriguingly, it's been a different story for many common folk. For the first time in history, we have attempted to chart a different course. Something unthinkable just 12 months ago. We might not have a "roadmap" or a blueprint yet, but we have taken that first crucial step to marching to a different drum. More importantly, we have refused to heed to the same dead beat that has ensnared us for the past 38 odd years or so.

This afternoon Wan Azizah announced her resignation as MP for Permatang Pauh , paving the way for Anwar Ibrahim to stand in a by-election. Around the same time, the police declared they had finished their investigation into the alleged sodomy case involving Anwar and forwarded it to the Attorney General for further action. The online Malaysia Insider newspaper has reported that the Solicitor General, Idrus Harun is set to lead the prosecution if he decides there is a prima facie case.

The next 48 hours is crucial. It will decide which road Malaysia will take in the coming years. And whatever that road is, it's going to be a long one, with many a winding turn. It may indeed be gloomy for awhile yet. It may turn darker before we eventually get out of the woods. But we must not lose hope. They say that the darkest hour is the one before dawn. We are at that hour now. Let's pray for Malaysia that dawn comes quickly.
Below: The Lyrics & One Interpretation.

Hazy Shade of Winter (Simon & Garfunkel, 1967)

Time, time, time, see whats become of me
While I looked around For my possibilities I was so hard to please But look around, leaves are brown And the sky is a hazy shade of winter

Hear the salvation army band
Down by the riverside, its bound to be a better ride Than what you've got planned Carry your cup in your hand And look around, leaves are brown now And the sky is a hazy shade of winter

Hang on to your hopes, my friend
Thats an easy thing to say, but if your hopes should pass away Simply pretend That you can build them again Look around, the grass is high The fields are ripe, its the springtime of my life

Ahhh, seasons change with the scenery
Weaving time in a tapestry Wont you stop and remember me At any convenient time Funny how my memory slips while looking over manuscripts Of unpublished rhyme Drinking my vodka and lime

But look around, leaves are brown now
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter Look around, leaves are brown Theres a patch of snow on the ground...

While doing some background check, I found this rather inspiring interpretation of the song. Check it out for yourself. This is from the website by someone who called him/herself "repentant rebel":

First Verse: My life is ending now, and looking back, I realize that I missed out on things I should have done because I was seeking perfect, fool-proof, failure free, guaranteed opportunities.

Verse 2: Think carefully about the goals you choose to strive for. When you hold your cup out to collect from the world, are your goals only self-serving? Because you would have a more meaningful ride through life if the things you did served to benefit humanity.

Verse 3: And in striving to serve humanity and better the world in some way, don't Give Up! If things go wrong or seem hopeless, start over even if you just have to pretend that you believe you can succeed in your goals. Start anew and recapture your sense of possibility.

4th verse: Please learn from my experience that your time will go by and you won't even notice as it's going until it's gone. So think about the things that I've said and please let this advice be the lasting mark I've made on humanity, because I am old and my time and ability to contribute to life in other meaningful ways is over.

Couldn't have put it better myself.