Wednesday, August 31, 2011

No Fireworks

"But they always have fireworks on Merdeka Day, Mom!"

"Not this year, dear."

The little boy sat down and pouted. For as long as he could remember, Merdeka Day had always been highlighted by the colourful fireworks streaking across the sky. It was the only night of the year when he was allowed to come home past midnight.

There was a little hill near his house where the fireworks display from various locations around town could clearly be seen. As early as 11pm, people from around his neighbourhood would gather to book the best seats. As the hour wore on, more would show up hoping to jostle for a better view.

Then without warning - poof! All restlessness dissipated as the sky lit up with bursts of purple, yellow, orange, blue, pink, green, red drawing oohs and ahhs from the crowd. The little boy would steal peeks at the faces of the people, enjoying their smiles of wonderment captured in brief flashes.

But it was not happening this year. Merdeka Day clashed with Hari Raya, marking the first time in his memory that the sky would be dark.

As the clock neared twelve with nothing but variety shows and heavily-censored movies on the telly, he shut it off and walked to the hill optimistically. Fortunately his mother was asleep - she would never have consented.

Hoping against hope, he strode quickly to his cherished spot. True enough, there was nobody there. No cars. No children. No eager chattering.

He stood there for five minutes, staring at the black sky. It seemed so vast tonight.

Beep beep! went his watch.


No fireworks.

"Happy Merdeka Day, Malaysia." he whispered to the Kuala Lumpur cityscape.