Written by Syahida Rahaman.
People assume that writers will always have books in their hands and have them scattered around in the room or on the nightstand. [Laughs] I have none. It has been quite a long time since I’ve last read a book. Let me explain. My love for books has outgrown me. I read, but I read things online. Last few days, when I was in the office, my supervisor hands me journals full of novel pieces by different writers, for me to read. One of the few that caught my attention was The Morning Post or Hujan Pagi published by DBP in 2003. It is one of the best-known novels written by A.Samad Said, the most celebrated National Literary Figure.
I haven’t recently read any novels. To be honest, I have been doing so many things and I couldn’t find the perfect time to sit for a good 10 hours flipping over pages. I’m cooped up in my dark room most of the time especially in this pandemic. After reading bits of The Morning Post on the journal, I went searching for the full one on Google but couldn’t find any. But I do find some quotations from the book itself and some pages photographed by the readers. Things are easier with technology they said. I have no strengths to go out to the library or to the bookstore to look for it. After doing some researches on the novel, I can assure you that it is indeed one of the best works written by Pak Samad. Sentence after sentence, with its prose, beautifully scattered, the detailed and vivid stories told in such a beautiful language, Old Malay.
To read this book, one must commit to it. The storyline may be confusing since it changes from reality to hallucinations over and over again. The story is messy and they are not structured in sequence. The book needs a deep understanding of how things work in the main character’s world. If one doesn’t fancy reading, they would have stopped mid-way. This book stands strong for the messages it tries to convey to the readers. Pak Samad wrote it that way. It’s not for a fun and leisure reading but it’s for your mind to work and process things. This book was written to centralize the idea behind the literature world and not the focus on the story. Other than that, I personally think that there are too many characters, each brings different stories in this novel. It feels as if Pak Samad purposely made it this way. A work with overflowing literature and a limited story to its readers. It is definitely Pak Samad’s magnum opus. It is intelligent and well-written albeit the slow storyline.
The Morning Post focuses more on realism and politics. It untangles a story about Lokman, a journalist. He suffers from mental illness which I assumed as schizophrenia after his works and efforts on wanting to fight against colonialism was mocked by the people and apparently it’s no longer relevant for today’s newspaper columns. This event trapped Lokman in his hallucination world, a world before the independence of Malaya. A world where we are still colonized by the British and the only power the Malays have is The Morning Post, Hujan Pagi, a newspaper for their people. It acts as a medium and weapon for them to stand strong for their land and race.
The Morning Post or Hujan Pagi is a world where Lokman is someone who’s great, looked-up to by a lot of people, someone who is constantly fighting against colonialism. But the truth is, Sinar Pagi in the reality is just a paper that has been read too many times and it is now forgotten by the people. In the novel, Pak Samad did a lot of critiques on how the old community (before the independence day) handle being colonized and how the politicians during that time are full of greed and misused the power given to them to control how the newspaper world works and a lot of other bad things.
The irony is, our country Malaysia until this very day, even after the independence, is still the same. Decades have passed through, but we are stuck in a country that doesn’t appreciate its people. The portion of the book may receive more attention on the historical figures such as Munshi Abdullah and Raja Ali Haji. It included many elements regarding political history, legends, archaeology, and astronomy. It is not certain if it’s fiction or the truth but the story where Abdullah Munsyi, The Fate & The Eagle Ship was burned and drowned deep into the sea along with Malays’ ancient treasures and the story of Temenggong who tries to pursue his love for Raffles are very valuable. We can’t find these kinds of stories in other books.
All in all, Pak Samad’s power in trying to portray the rightful elements of a newspaper and a journal and the criteria of a good leader throughout the story brings out the patriotism in one’s soul. The story encouraged the people to use their voice and vote for the right person through Hujan Pagi. This eventually unfolds the messages Pak Samad is trying to convey in today’s world. The country is ours. We have the right to choose who leads us. We need to use our voice and screams at the top of our lungs by voting for the right person. The novel enhance the transparency of journalism, about leaders and the people’s right and authority, feminism, demonstration, and education. The writing in this novel is ahead of its time. No wonder Pak Samad is proudly, our National Literary Figure.
**Artwork by the talented @otagoth