Sunday, April 19

I Completely Love My Sister But...

She has a tendency to diss a cause or an artist when they get picked up by the general populace, ie when they get mainstream. She used to love Alanis Morissette. Back when she was considered 'alternative music.' But when everyone started singing her songs, Kasha Same goes with other alternative-turn-mainstrea
m artists. She also thought people only know Jason Mraz for 'I'm Yours' and 'Lucky'. Man was she disappointed when most of the stadium sang along to all his songs. But she's still obsessed over Mraz. There are exceptions. So why am I dissing my own sister on Facebook, you ask? She can't seem to stop dissing Earth Hour that took place two weekends back. She's actually passionate about it. I get why she was set against 'Boycott Israel-supporting Companies' campaign, coz, quite frankly, it's plain stupid. If the whole of Malaysia stops buying McDonald's, the only thing we can achieve is unemployment for fellow Malaysians. McDonald's is a worldwide chain. Malaysia is relatively small. No difference to the company. And that company built a home-away-from-home for Pediatrics Unit, HUKM. Other companies have their own charity outreach as well. Just look at it this way. Smoking has been declared 'haram'. Religiously illegal. Do we tell employers to stop giving income to these cigarette-buyers? Without money, they can't buy ciggies. Then what happens to them? How do they support their family? Think, people. And just buy that McDonald's and Starbucks you've been secretly craving all this while. Get the makeups you've been avoiding. Off topic. Sorry. Where was I? Earth Hour. Kay. So some ecophytes came up with the idea of Earth Hour last year. Then they bade specific countries to take part, locally. Malaysia was one of the countries. Hence, 28th March 2009 marked Earth Hour Malaysia. They only asked the general populace to turn off their lights for one hour, from 2030 to 2130. Nothing else. Just the lights. So what would this do to help the world? Air conditioners would still emit CFC. Fossil oil byproducts would still smog the air. Water would still flow from the tap unchecked. Coal-based power plants would still cause massive pollution, what with the electricity still being used. Turn off the lights? Pfft. Well, the idea is, energy never dies. It simply gets converted into another form. Light emanates heat, which, eventually, contributes to global warming. Nights in and around KL are warm, except during a thunderstorm. Try driving on any highway at night. Turn the windows down (or press that button, whatever). Drive at a leisurely pace of 40kmph. Let your hand out the window. Just your hand. Feel the wind. Feel the hair at the back of your neck prickled by the gentle breeze that makes its way into the car. Feel the fresh air floating into your nostrils. If you're not driving, look up. See the stars you've missed so much, lost from the glare of city lights. Mind, my dear sister is eco-friendly, in her own way. She the most eco-aware person in our family. I blame Astro for giving us Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic. So why was she vocal about being against Earth Hour, as evidenced by her blog, spanned over several topics? The answer is simple. The public loved this idea. Not for the reason I gave above, but it sounded cool. Malaysians in general pick up on a cause without reasoning it first. As long as it's cool, being picked up by others, and picked up by celebrities, they're all into it. I'm not dissing my countryfellows. It's just fact. So. Earth Hour. The public loved; Kasha hated. Vehemently is an understatement. Woman's got a right to her own opinion, no matter how I tried dissuading her. Well, here's my take on the situation. Years ago, there was a nationwide blackout. Can't remember exactly when. I'm a visual person. Numbers, names and dates whoosh by unremembered. What I remember is what happened that night. It was pitch-black inside our house. And stifling. Playing with the hot, melted wax was fun the first ten minutes or so, but I got bored. Bumping into furniture didn't help. The main doors were left opened, and cool air wafted in. It was somehow brighter outside. We went out, Kasha and I. Papa followed, bringing the purple-and-tan woven mat. He spread the mat on our driveway, and I immediately plopped onto the mat. The uneven, hard concrete floor underneath the mat poked at me. Uncomfortable. Papa went back in and came out with a few cushions and pillows, and a large blanket. Mama was in JB at that time. Faiz was with her, I think. I don't remember him being with us. I lay down and held a torchlight in one hand, a storybook in another. Kasha lay beside me staring at the endless sky. Papa sat by the gate and smoked his Dunhill. The distinct smell of his smoke was familiar, and somehow comforting. The soft breeze rustled our neighbors' mango trees. I strained to catch some of their whispered secrets. The buzz of mosquitoes rose and ebbed. Kasha and I slapped each other more than any mosquitoes. We were outside, and it was dark, but I felt safe. Then Kasha started pointing at the heavens. At first I thought she spotted a plane, or just pointing randomly for the sake of it. "That's the Seven Sisters." "Huh?" Book still in hand, I turned my head sideways. "Up there. See those stars?" I followed the direction of her finger as she traced a vague zigzag. "Uh-huh." "And that's the Big Dipper. Ursa Major. It's a bear." My ears perked, as they always do when I'm interested in something. "Where?" "There. That's the tail, and that's the body." "Ooh..." It went on most of the night. Kasha named constellations, and I oohed and aahed, imagining the named animals and objects. She could've told me she was one of the constellations and I would have believed her. I would still believe her now even if she points at the sky one night and named her own stars. Such is the faith I put in my elder sibling. I wouldn't trust her calculations though. Not even for 3+9. (Ahahaha Kasha, I got you thinking, didn't I?). Mosquitoes were forgotten. Book was forgotten. Only the sound of her voice and the movements of her fingers. And the starry night, with the moon a silent sentinel illuminating us. Now, whenever I reach home at night, I would always look at the sky from our driveway. Sometimes the moon would grace me with her presence. On rare occasions, I would see some stars. Usually though, the sky is too bright to see anything but random clouds and emptiness. But I would always recall that night, and would smile and shake my head before heading in. Little Arwen is still too small to appreciate the stars. But she's a city girl. I only hope that when she grows up, she won't only see Andromeda, or Cassiopeia, or even Venus, Mars and the Northern Star in Discovery Channel and books. I want her to lay on the mat on our driveway, oohing and aahing as her mother points to her the brilliant stars. So is Earth Hour still just a buzz, a propaganda? Maybe. Maybe not. I want to believe in a cause when it is good. Save the Earth. Not for ourselves, but for those we will one day leave behind.