so, i was there. arrived early enough but i already smelt something familiar -tear gas!- my friends and i hustled towards an alley, stopped by a stall operated by a few indonesian women; whom gave a very warm welcome while repeating their slogans, "malaysia boleh! malaysia aman!"
it was already around 10 am, and i didn't want to waste any more energy walking around as to avoid the cops. some of my friends had already been arrested! my friend, A; and i decided to stay at petaling street. a middle-aged, chinese man then approached us. "bagus.. bagus... anak-anak muda sudah berani!". i just smiled back at him. around 12 noon, out of a sudden, a crowd is formed around us; and i saw another crowd was moving towards us at the opposite of the road. owh, it had begun! we marched peacefully towards jalan hang tuah back and forth, until the crowd finally marched towards a larger crowd in front of Maybank building.
dr hatta was giving the speech. i had fun watching others got ecstatic. not long after that, i heard the siren, the police fired up and the tear gas canister was so close to us and i was suddenly surrounded by heavy smoke. i ran but almost trapped when a guy in front of me suddenly stopped at the narrow path. "gerak, gerak," i yelled while swallowing the fumes. i can barely see, but luckily i spotted A. with shivering hands and still gasping for air, i took out some salt and put them in my mouth. A, unable to find hers, she swiped some that left at my lips and hands and put them in her mouth. the fumes was getting worst. A then grabbed my hand and we climbed up the stairs nearby. almost suffocated, i exhaled deeply. i thought i almost died, that i recited syahadah repeatedly. saliva coming out from my mouth, mucous running out from my nose. this is the worst tear-gassed experience i had so far.
we found a running tap water at the hill slope, where the guys had their ablution to perform zuhur prayer. i wet my handkerchief and took ablution as well. not long after that, another siren. tear gas again! A and i ran, helped by a few gentlemen to pass through the narrow fence. our running speed was not that excellent as i felt my throat and stomach were still burning with the acid gas. we decided to find shelter at the nearest building and i saw some people rushed into a motel (A first thought it was a temple!). like a drama queen, i waved and begged, "please, please!". "hurry up!", an indian guy waited for us to come in before he locked up the gate. i was quite surprised to see that most of the 'refugees' there were males. they offered us to sit but kindly i insisted to perform my solah first.
the rain was pouring heavily. another shot of tear gas was being launched. the indian worker led us to the back of the building, offering salt and asked us to wash our face with the running tap water. as the police passed through the building, he even asked us to hide. we thanked him so much and bought two bottles of mineral water before leaving. he showed us thumbs up sign and waved us goodbye.
truly 1 Malaysia
the rally was so moving and i believe each participants can feel how people really looked after one another throughout the rally, despite of different religions, races and ages. i witnessed: a guy tore up his towel into two to share another half with a stranger; strangers offering salt to me and A to counteract the tear gas effect; strangers helping us at the motel; someone always stepped up ensuring the panicked run doesn't turn into a stampede. i feel very safe in the crowd. trust me, you can hear these kind of kindness act from every single marchers. congrats najib! your 1 Malaysia concept was instead practiced by your own opponents. at least you preach on something which is good.
i cried when i watched the video of those who were being tear gassed and trapped in kl central. i cried when i watched in tv najib insulting anwar lying in pain after being tear gassed (i would probably feel the same if najib was in his place). i cried when i watched the video of the man having a seizure attack while his hands were still tied. those who attended the rally knows exactly how horrible it feels watching all these. i cannot even bear to hear nasty and mean things said about the man who died after being tear gassed. this is very inhumane! what kind of violence did the protesters created? is it logical for the cops to heartlessly showered water canon and tear gas to the people that had yellow flowers, bananas, yellow t-shirts as their weapons? it's not a rocket science to understand something that we call as humanity.
these protesters acted civilized enough not to destroy property or hurt one another. several got hurts and one died but the participants did not cause them. even the restaurants and shops that dared enough to operate actually benefits a lot on that day. i feel sorry for the shattered newly wed couples when guests did not turn up, but who in the first place did all the road blocks and scaring all not to go out on that day?
if the government in the first place understands the psychology of people having different worldviews, i don't think Bersih 2.0 will turn out this way. a simple thing like - giving RESPECT to others' views which is different from yours; is the key to worldwide peace. others may have different view on this, but that is his story. i'm proud that i'm a part of the history. 10 or 20 years to come, people may write this event in our history textbook. and by that time, i can proudly relating MY-story to my grandchildren or other youths. at least i have my own stand and my own story. do you?
enjoy this poem by A. Samad Said