Sunday, July 26, 2009


Celebrated local filmmaker, Yasmin Ahmad passed away at 11.25 pm, Saturday, 25 July 2009, after massive bleeding in the brain which followed a stroke on Thursday. The director, 51 is famous for her films and advertisements that capture the essence of Malaysian racial harmony. Which makes me think, why?

Films like Sepet (part of which was shot in my primary school), Gubra and most recently, Talentime, showed that despite the many profound differences between us, we can, and must, learn to live with each other. Veteran actress and close friend Fatimah Abu Bakar said,"She had a big heart and vision that we usually don’t understand. That was why people misunderstood her. But she never intended any malice". Other prominent industry veterans spoke along the same lines, reminding us that Yasmin's death represents a cruel blow against the forces of morality and tolerance, and a huge loss in a society already not richly endowed with morality. And, so now I ask, what has Yasmin taught us?

In many ways, the lessons she taught were no different from other great men and women: love thy neighbour, do unto others as you wish others to do unto you, honour your father and your mother, and so on. Yasmin showed us that regardless of our mother tongues, there is only one language we should speak: the language of love. The only difference is, film was her canvas, the canvas on which she displayed the art of loving.Just like Michael Jackson, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, she believed that whatever our faults, we have it in us to "tear down these walls," to "heal the world", to “be the change you want to see in the world.” But maybe best of all was that she "had a dream" and that she was determined to share it with us.

Like all the great people with so much love to give, she is no more... As with everyone else who wanted us to transcend skin colour, God loved her so much more. But there is a great poem by Mary Frye, which I think truly captures the fact that everytime someone extends a helping hand, Yasmin's spirit is there.

In Loving Memory of ...Yasmin Ahmad
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I'm not there; I do not sleep,
I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's rush,
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I'm not there; I did not die.

Thank you, Yasmin. Keep teaching us to love.


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