MONSOON HISTORY REVIEW : BY MY OWN THOUGHTS TOWARDS SHIRLEY LIM GREAT EFFORT WORKS
Human and nature as well is part of our life. The poem ‘Monsoon History’ use this elements to represents its own message. First time I try to interpret this poem, I’m amaze with the story behind this poem. As I would take it different as I learn it back when I’m in Form 4. Now as I grown up and learned something from MLE, I could tell that my interpretation towards this poem would be different from the past. The persona itself uses her flashback and her memories related to what happened when she was in Malacca during one monsoon evening, though she has settled in America now, her memories about her past is still vivid in her mind as she is able to express the details of the happenings and situations in her house and her parents’ actions which lived in Baba Nyonya custom. So as we continue to look into this poem, I would like to state that this poem is trying to celebrate the Malaysian culture by highlighting one of it’s own custom which is the Baba and Nyonya.
We’re maybe familiar with some creatures like ‘snakes’, ‘spiders’, ‘termites’ but others like ‘slugs’, ‘gnats’, ‘moths’ may create a new sense to us. Hence, we have to associate these terms of insects with the toughness and dampness of a monsoon season and understand that they are creatures that come out from their hiding place or can be seen in abundance during monsoon. The persona tries to mention all of this elements because she wants to highlight Malacca as the straits state which going through this heavy monsoon every year and the place where Baba and Nyoya community live or originated.
The poet then, first describing the activities outside the house (back in the garden) and then moves into indoors when the rains starts pouring. There is also a flashback. In the last stanza, readers will come to know that ‘Monsoon History’ is a reflective poem about the poet’s past as it is written in the present tense. This is further reinforced by the line ‘This was forty years ago’. We also can depict to suggest words or expressions that describing the Baba and Nyonya tradition and community. By analyzing the baba-nyonya’s home imageries such as ‘sarong-wrapped..’, ‘portraits of the grandfathers….” and etc, we could experience the culture and the custom of the Malaccan Peranakan. In short, we are concern with the internal patterns such as poetic devices like similes, metaphors, onomatopoeia and so on. The poet also portrays carnivalesque imagination, for example the words ‘milo’ and ‘sarong’ shows that the poet is still very closely in touch and always remembers her rich Peranakan culture, which is considered to be shared among Malaysians as i firmly believe that Malaysians are aware of what kind of drink ‘milo’ is and how ‘sarong’ is used.
Besides that the persona also had mention of ‘silver paper for the dead’ and the importance of ‘portraits of grandfathers hung always in the parlour’ which also reflect parts of custom of the poet’s rich Peranakan culture. Therefore, through this poem, readers will be able to extract customs and practises of the Peranakan community during that time of the poet’s flashback which was about forty years ago.