An Open Letter To All Teenage Malay Girls in Malaysia And Anyone Who Can Relate

It’s confusing to address a specific name to this letter, because as Malays, we may be the ‘kakak’ or ‘along’ (terms used in referring the eldest sister) that carries the biggest blame whenever a family member screws up, the pampered ‘adik’ (little sister/brother) or the other numerous names that we can be called that stands in the between, the ones that don’t get their palms hit before the first nor being spoilt like the last in the family. We also have different names to be called by our closest group of friends, the acquaintances, the teachers that call us with any name as long as it’s ours regardless how many times we remind them to call us by the name that we prefer because one of our names may be similar to the other girl that sits behind us in class, and most of us have ‘Nur’ as the starting of our lengthy names, so none of us would like to stand up altogether as if we’re performing choral speaking when the teacher picks out a name from the printed database to pinpoint a Science quiz. So, pardon me for leaving a blank space after my greeting later on because it is up to you on how you want to represent yourself, and it has always been that way.

Dear ________ ,

You may be sitting in front of the computer at the library, just heaved a big sigh while lying down on your bed  with the most comfortable kaftan nightdress with your hair tied up a messy bun after staying up late completing your schoolwork and trying to rekindle your strength before sunrise, logged in your phone to catch up on the latest news after sparing the day helping your parents with their restaurants and shops, staring at the ceiling fan without blinking an eye because you don’t know what to do if you look at any other furniture in the bedroom, cringing under the downpour of the rain shower to wash away another heartbreak or slammed the door shut after running errands between sports practices and classes. Whatever that you have been doing before and when you are reading this, I admire your utmost courage. I notice your struggles.

In life, you may stumble upon critical decisions that you have to make and sometimes it may be between life and death. No matter how many people you have seen for the wisest advice, say the last word. You may get disapprovals, but the harshest that these can go is limited to your acceptance towards it. You choose how you want to float and survive. You may let hearts down, and some people that you cherish may even leave along the journey, but here’s the thing; you didn’t invite them to get on the bandwagon with you. If they can’t stand the dizziness from circling up the mountains, leave them at a stop and continue riding to the top. Let them find their own peak, but this beautiful view from up here is yours.

We may have to live with nonsense stereotypes in this society and I still honestly feel that we are still regarded as minorities with men as the dominants, and it still seems that they can use, objectify, brainwash and block us with famous taboos to chain us to their feet until one of the holiest relationships that I have learned in my religion, marriage, becomes my fear out of the 4807 cases of domestic violence (as in 2014) and how disrespectful boys our age towards us, and they are dispersed all around Twitter for prove. In this challenging era that we live in now, I demand all of you to be strong. Get out of your houses, grab all the education that you need to equip yourself at school, and achieve your dreams. There’s no more time to waste on reminiscing why your followers on Instagram is lesser than anybody else and how to beautify your feed, strike better poses and fancier makeup techniques. You are not born to impress anyone with your face, but with the award shows that you have walked on the red carpet, and your efforts to make the world a better place, by all means. Let it be literature, showmanship, inventions, and even the shortest wise word that can empower a little girl and make her see that she can too. The hardest battle is for the toughest soldiers, so start gearing up.

Last but not least, do whatever you want to do solely for you. If you feel that nobody is proud of you, even the most important people for you, I do, and I will always do. 

Love,

Your fellow Malay girl.

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Maleen Balqish
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Senior year student living the KL life but prefers quiet KT weekends. E-mail : maleenbalqish@gmail.com Twitter & Instagram : maleenbalqish

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