“A Mother and Child,” Pierre-Narcisse Guérin

This is a childhood memory of my mother’s:

She’s about eight years old. Her father has made hibiscus syrup from blooms he gathered in his own garden. The drink is brightly coloured and sweet; everyone loves it. Get your tumblers, her father says, turning from the stove. My mother, excited, grabs hers and is first in line, holding it out. Everyone holds out their tumbler. One by one, my grandfather fills them all up from the big pot, but he doesn’t fill my mother’s. Even though she’s the youngest child there, he skips hers. He’s filled nearly everyone else’s, even…

Expecting Better: Thoughts on Language and Privilege in Malaysia

Recently, certain discussions of race and class in Malaysia have left me with the sense that we are all talking in platitudes and relying upon received ideas without considering the relevance of these ideas to our country and society. Such misgivings often descend upon me as soon as I detect binaries and absolutes: A is classist, therefore not-A is not; X is racist in all contexts. For example: expecting good English is classist; therefore forgiving bad English is not. …

Preeta Samarasan

Malaysian writer based in France

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