|A People's Walk|
|Written by straits-mongrel|
|Thursday, 29 November 2012 23:55|
BACK there on the colourful streets of Sentul, an auntie extends a large plastic bag weighted with plump curry puffs. "Ambik! Ambik!" she gestures, insisting that bashful walkers load up on their carbo-fuel for the journey ahead. She's from the neighbourhood, you can tell, who's simply out greeting her guests. Back there just metres from the Chow Kit Monorail, a drinks and fruit seller guides his vehicle into the thick of the moving crowd. He stops. One hand waving to the people around him, the other grabbing packets of pre-cut fresh fruit, he offers: "Ambik! Ambik!" There is the pakcik in his jubah on Jalan TAR, a crate of mineral water before him. Same gesture, same words pretty much.
Something's different today. You feel this is one special Sunday.
This is Straw Hat culture. Unyielding in principle and unbounded in warmth.
From the salt-stained banks of Kuantan on the other side of the monsoon wall called Titiwangsa, they had trekked towards the capital with one simple message.
And on this Sunday, the 13th day of their walk, they are greeted with 20,000 friends spilling in from community pockets along the route. Anonymous is the new muscle.
From Taman Melewar in Gombak, the group make their way into the city, resting at Kampung Railway before resuming the final push through the urban collage called Sentul.
And at every major street corner hundreds await to join in the walk. The sun blisters but - the thousands will agree - today is as good as any to develop a farmer's bronze. We march.
Bank managers, financial advisers, corporate stiffs... whoever imagined they'd be puffing their lungs on vuvuzelas.
Whoever said Mahjong Sundays can never ever be violated?
This Sunday afternoon, truth be told, I am bowled over by a beauty that is expressing itself more and more in Malaysia. It is a spontaneous outpouring of care and action; not choreographed by political parties nor steering committees, just People Doing Things. It shows itself at many local levels. It is at once humorous and heart-breakingly sweet. A sweet hum.
People Doing Things. It is borne of this that the Malaysian flag flies.
You just want to pickle it and preserve the moment.
As the sky darkens and the lead group arrives at Maju Junction, the green swath stretches a good length of Jalan TAR by now... 200 metres from here to Dataran Merdeka, 300km from where it all began. The spirit reaches a crescendo. The walk continues.
Only to be met with this.
Here then is journey's end. A victorious message by any measure. They will camp here for the night. It will be a rest well deserved.
Back in the room, after a good shower, I hang my straw hat and chuckle at my farmer's bronze. For a nation choking on slogans, declarations, proclamations but scant action, thank you for this Sunday and the dozen days prior. Thank you Himpunan Hijau for walking the walk. Thank you for allowing a beautiful Malaysia to be, a Malaysia sown from the ground up.
A People's Malaysia. The way it really ought to be.