I was listening to, for the third round– the cd SyairMelayu, relieving all of my childhood memories. They twirled in my head together with the words I was translating through the night. Coincidently, the book I am currently translating–AsianParentingToday talks about parenting the Asian way and I find that the songs I was listening to in SyairMelayu aptly fits in as one of the songs under the lullaby section. One of the songs in SyairMelayu was Enjit-Enjit Semut. I am not sure how many kids these days know the song. I think kids today relate more to Barney’s I love you-you love me song or the Oh Mister Sun.
Basically the chorus of the song goes like this :
Enjit-Enjit Semut… Siapa sakit naik… atas Enjit-Enjit Semut.. Siapa sakit naik atas
And as the child sings it, he has to pinch one hand over the other with whoever is singing with him and the hand right at the bottom, feeling the pinch like an ant bite ( enjit-enjit semut ) will move the hand up –i.e if you feel the pain of being pinched, then move up ( siapa sakit naik atas ). And the song goes on and on.
Somehow as I was enjoying the beat of the song, it struck me that the song is not just a lullaby per say, but deeper into it, it is the child’s first lesson on the basic principle of life, i.e to get ahead or to move forward/upward, one must feel at least a pinch ( struggle ) to motivate/drive one to work his way up. Otherwise, stay at the bottom.
Throughout my growing years, my father always pushed us to struggle. Struggle is good. Struggle makes us stronger. Struggle teaches us. Life has no meaning if it is too easy. Those seemed to be his mantra when bringing us up. Two principles closest to me personally – my faith and aikido, also stress upon struggle as one of the main pillars. The ever misunderstood word ‘jihad‘ in my faith calls upon struggle as one of the essence of being a believer, and the toughest jihad, is the struggle over oneself. The aikido principle of Masakatsu Agatsu teaches that the biggest victory is victory over oneself. It runs along this line of struggle. To even gain victory over our ownself involves too much struggling. Basically, to get goodness ( in anything ), one must work/feel the pain of struggle for it. And the pinch grows bigger than the ant bite the song Enjit-Enjit Semut describes, as we grow older.
Hence the further I let my mind wander about the song Enjit-Enjit Semut, the more I realise that the song actually teaches kids that concept of life’s struggle. The kid singing this song while doing the hand on top of another actions–is not competing against another person. He is actually competing against himself, seeing how far he can stand the pain of being pinched before making the effort to move his hand up to the top of the pile.
Whoever came up with this song, whether he/she realises it or not, is very wise.
On a totally different side of the fence ( of the same song nevertheless ), this video below tickled me to no ends when it was produced some years back, about the stereotype of Malays in Singapore. The stereotypes are very candid and I cannot say it will be applicable to Malaysian ( or Bruneian/Indonesian ) Malays, but it was spot on for the Singapore Malays in a hilarious way. Though it is already a few years old, I still giggle watching it…😛