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FIRSTS: SPOKEN POETRY


This semester I had the opportunity to do something I could only ever imagined of doing – spoken word poetry. Being a woman of the pen and paper, I have written a few poems before this in my free time. But doing spoken word poetry was an entire new world on its own to me! I’ve only watched spoken word poetry artists like Sarah Kay and Jamal Raslan on YouTube videos before. So when a friend asked me to perform an original spoken word poem at his buka puasa event this semester, I was super excited but also scared pantsless!

“What if I mess up?”
“I have never done this before…”
“It’s just a small event, no one would even care…”
“I’m busy with all my assignments anyways”

All these thoughts and doubts flooded and filled my mind. In the end, I finally agreed to perform the spoken word poetry. Thus began the planning, thinking, writing and practicing process!

On that night, I attended the buka puasa event donning a black kebaya. Nerves filled my system and my heart was beating not only from the performance anxiety, but also because I had to rush to the event from work! Before the night came to an end, I was invited up on stage and in the blink of an eye, it was over. I performed my first ever spoken word poetry in front of a room full of people! It wasn’t as good as the professionals of course, but to me, it meant a lot.

I did what I thought was impossible before but in the end, I took a leap of faith and hey guess what? ImPOSSIBLE and I did it!

Last but not least, here is the poem that I wrote and recited during the event “A Date with Ramadan”:

Puasa?

A poem written by Lim Ee Yeng

“Puasa ke tak?”
“Setengah hari jer”

My Muslim friends ask each other

And there I stood a little girl in a pinafore
Questioning questioning questioning
I knew nothing
Nothing about fasting
Nothing about starving
Nothing about suffering
What did it mean to fast?
Was it the opposite of slow?
Oh all I knew was that… I didn’t know.
But it definitely wasn’t the opposite of slow
Right?

As I grew old
My knowledge increased ten-fold
For Ramadan wasn’t simply about fasting
Hari Raya wasn’t simply about celebrating
Iftar wasn’t simply about eating

And so I asked my friends
“Umm… kenapa kamu puasa? Apa it puasa?”
They said to puasa meant to fast
No food or drinks allowed
Only a belief to hold proud
To fast meant to see
What it felt like to be hungry
And it was a movement
That allowed the understanding of poverty
In a world that was shrouded by snobbery
The act of fasting made empathy
A priority

After a lot of contemplation I guess…
Fasting was a form of education
It unified a nation
Lined with discrimination
To understand appreciation
Gone were the days of alienation

And here I stand in a room full of people
A room full of faces
Of a multitude of races
From all different places

Makan bersama-sama
Borak together-gether

Having fun je lah

So I guess
Ramadan was about the cultivation
Of appreciation
Within a civilization
Ramadan was a combination
Of empathy
Unity
Tolerance
Respect
So lest not forget
The real meaning of Ramadan
Is not simply about makan makan makan