I had agreed to accompany one of my good friends as his plus-one to a wedding last night. I had no idea who the bride and groom were but I had an open Saturday night and thought it was due time to catch up with this friend of mine. Little did I know, the groom’s brother in law is Zainal Abidin, the singer made famous by his song Hijau (Green) in the 1990s and to which perhaps, this blog lends part of its name from.
I wouldn’t call myself a true fan of his, and I probably know all of 2 of his songs by heart but when his Hijau song became a national hit, it was played everywhere, and if my memory serves me well, it coincided with the early green movement when the concept of recycling was introduced. When he stood on that stage last weekend and I heard it live, it was just THAT good that I held a stupendous smile throughout the entire song. This particular song is tied to my childhood memories and the early consciousness towards environmental conservation. All those early memories of my attempts to recycle by soaking old newspapers in water overnight to make paper mache bowls that I can’t quite remember what I ended up using it as. That plus the countless past editions of National Geographic which I hoarded for the places that I daydreamed of going to help save someday.
Songs that carry such powerful messages tend to automatically qualify itself in the all-time classic favorites hall of fame like John Lennon’s Imagine. I have listened to his song when I was 12 and now in my late twenties, the lustre of it when it first became a hit never left at all. I believe Zainal Abidin’s Hijau transcends time and passing fad, but more importantly its message is one that is understood globally. So this post is a tribute to the Hijau man itself. Lyrics appear in its original Bahasa Malaysia language with my attempt to translate it so that the wider audience who do not speak the language can perhaps achieve some appreciation towards this lovely song.
Some of the translation may not make a lot of sense as I try to stick as close to its original meaning as possible, but I guess if you take it in more poetic form, you can perhaps begin to see the messages that was weaved into it.
Bumi yang tiada rimba
Dia dicemar manusia
Yang jahil ketawa
An earth without forests Is like a slave
Polluted by humans
Who ignorantly laughs away
Bumi yang tiada udara
Bagai tiada nyawa
Pasti hilang suatu hari
An earth without air
Is like an earth without life
One that will surely disappear
Without [anyone] realizing it
Bumi tanpa lautan
Pasti lambat laun hilang
Duniaku yang malang
An earth without sea
Is like an earth that is thirsty
One that will eventually disappear
Oh, my disastrous world!
Dewasa ini kita saling merayakan
Kejayaan yang akhirnya membinasakan
Apalah gunanya kematangan fikiran
Bila di jiwa kita masih lagi muda
Ku lihat hijau
As adults we always celebrate
The successes of others that usually destroys
What is the use of a wise mind
When our souls are still young and raw?
I see green
Bumiku yang kian pudar
Siapa yang melihat
Di kala kita tersedar
My earth that is slowly fading
Who is keeping watch?
When we finally realize
It could be too late
Corruption, Oppression, Self Obsession
Pollution, Depression, in our world today
tokleh meghaso mandi laok
Ale lo ni tuo umurnyo bejuto
Jauhke dari malapetako
Ozon lo ni koho nipih nak nak aghi
Keno make asak
Hok biso wei,pasa maknusio
Seghemo bendo-bendo di dunio
[This final part of the song is actually sang in Kelatanese Malay which is a dialect spoken specifically by those who originate from this northern state of Peninsular Malaysia. Being one that grew up in the city of Kuala Lumpur all my life, Kelantanese Malay is practically a whole different language on its own to me hence I am not even going to attempt to translate this strictly due to accuracy reasons]