All through my school life, I had my fair share of forms to fill and each time I get to the part that said "race", I had to choose between (1) Malay, (2) Chinese, (3) Indian and (4) Others. I am always number 4. I don't really know how the forms are for school-going children today but I suspect that not much has changed.
I did have moments when I felt like ticking the box numbered (1). Just for fun! However, brought up by a rather strict mom and a very strict Convent school, I never did. Only once in my life did I play truant. Moreover, I was caught! That's a story for another day.
Anyway, back to being number 4. It wasn't all too bad back then. Being the minority, did make me feel a little special. The 1s, 2s and 3s were so many. The Number 4s stood out, in some way. We were noticed more easily. People remembered us better too.
Now at almost half a century, yeah, almost but not quite there, I look back and see how advantageous it has been. Every single member of my family, the 4s has married either a 1, 2 or 3. Hahahaha. Typing this seems like a mathematical equation. Now the outcome of this 4 + 1 or 4 + 2 or 4 + 3 has resulted in a lovely concoction of a truly Malaysian child.
These "products" of mixed numbers have grown up with each other, never knowing anything except being from the same family. Now isn't that nice! Until, of course, they grow older, enter school and find out that they are “numbers” which exist in our system. For what purpose? Until now, I cannot fathom it. "Statistics", you say! Ahhhhhhhh , but whatever for? Can't we just call ourselves Malaysians?
When we were young, we used to joke about the mixture our kids would be when we marry. We came up with rather hilarious made up words. I’ll share them with you here
Indian + Filipino = Indipino
Chinese + Filipino = Chilipino or Chinipino
Malay + Filipino = Milipino
Consider also Singaporean + Filipino = Silipino (go tease your Silipino friends, now)
(Note: I’m Malaysian and my Singaporean husband has been called a “Singalaysian” by rakyat@work!). So funny!
Therefore, I think, being Number four isn’t half-bad. We have a great mixture of unity. We respect and celebrate each other’s beliefs. We accept that we are not the same but neither are we that different. We inherited common genes and came from a similar blood pool. At every festive occasion, we have somewhere to go. In our minds and hearts, there is no distinction between races. As someone once said, we all belong to the human race.