Life will never be the same again. Timah, the demure Malay woman who hails from a small town, will be kept at bay even by her close friends.
The drastic change in the nature of friendship occurred soon after the brouhaha over the Malaysian-made whisky Timah erupted recently.
Timah’s reputation was called into question after friends and colleagues conveniently associated her with the alcoholic beverage, which obviously is something that her Malay friends would not touch, even with a 10 foot pole.
The accounts clerk pleaded her innocence and took pains to show the distilled difference between the teetotaller Timah and the whisky whose controversial name is supposedly derived from a long history of the country’s tin industry.
And yet, her friends still avoided her like the Spanish flu. In fact, there were those who had the audacity to suggest that Fatimah (her full name) change the name with which she was born.
However, her own family became incensed, as they felt it would be sacrilegious to replace a name associated with Islamic spirituality over a mere bottle of intoxicating spirit.
A few well-meaning friends even suggested that Timah resolve this problem by calling herself Fati instead, but the sound of the name would weigh her down as it does not do justice to her svelte self.
Her predicament heightened when she found out that Fatimah comes close to a name that Catholics sometimes associate with Mother Mary, ie Fatima, a town in Portugal, which turned into a major pilgrimage site a century ago, after a few children said Mary had appeared to them there.
As a consequence, Timah is now convinced that there are elements in our society who are bent on making her confused in the controversy surrounding her otherwise non-contentious name.
The issue became too confounding for her after she discovered that bearded men with a skullcap to boot are not necessarily Muslim. That’s insane, she sighed.
As someone who is inherently coy, the limelight that has been thrust upon her makes her uneasy and nervous, especially when she fears that her name could be a source of interreligious conflict in our diverse society.
She is deeply concerned that her name could drive a wedge between members of the “Malaysian family” touted by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
All along, she thought that being a teetotaller was good enough protection from people who doubted her abstinence from anything intoxicating. Slander is the last thing she wants in her less spirited life.
To be sure, Timah is the sort who does not like to be an object of public scrutiny, much less scorn.
As someone who comes from Batang Berjuntai in Kuala Selangor, she knows very well what social stigma really means.
Luckily for her, the authorities in Selangor decided to change her town’s name to Bestari Jaya in 2007, after some people complained that a town associated with a protruding male genital was too heavy a burden to carry on their shoulders throughout their lives. It was a fate almost worse than death.
You might say, what’s in a name? Try telling that to Timah.
Note: This is satire, which shouldn’t be taken too seriously. – The Malaysian Insight