I’m not finished with M Nasir (and Kembara) yet.

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Like I said, his music is a mixture of literature, philosophy and some spirituality. Although I grew up with Kembara’s music, especially during childhood, I am more familiar with songs like Andalusia, Apokalips, Bonda, Mentera Semerah Padi, Tanya Sama Itu Hud Hud, Phoenix Bangkit Dari Abu, Salam Dunia, Suatu Hari Di Hari Raya, or even love songs like Suatu Masa (my ultimate favourite) and Dua Insan.

Recently I was brought back to more than 25 years ago as I was “getting ready” to go for their recent concert, Hati Emas. When my aunt asked me about it, I just said yes, only to realize that the music I am more familiar with are the recent ones. So I opened Deezer and started listening.

You see, when you’re seven years old, it is more likely that you do not really understand the hardships of life, and you tend to take poetry literally. So I did not fully understand the meaning or significance of their songs, hence I did not appreciate them that much.

When I listened to them properly, after years, I realized that those songs are real gems, shining like the stars in the dark skies. Having gone through a lot more than I did all those years ago, I could finally comprehend the meanings of the songs.

My interpretation may not be similar to others, and may not be in line with composers’ message, as they often write in metaphors, or words that could have various meanings. But this is what I get from their songs:

Hati Emas

This song is about the difficult journey of a man looking for a heart of gold. He described the empty, dusty roads and the scorching sun on his search, while small voices telling him that his search is futile. He wandered around and wondered whether he has found that pure heart of gold, and “may I be your best friend until the end of time?”. In the end he pondered, perhaps he might not find it ever.

I thought he was searching for someone who has the heart of gold, so pure and kind, for him to be friends with, to learn from that person so that he could become a better man in his life. Perhaps he was just looking for a nice girl to be his life partner.

Or maybe he was looking for guidance to help him grow and mature, but his search has been difficult, and his questions about life unanswered.

But then I thought, from my experience in life, you should not look for hearts gold as you will always be frustrated by the search. Human nature, there will always be flaws and dents. Instead, we should all purify our hearts and become that person with a heart of gold that we have been looking for elsewhere. That is the only way to appreciate the struggles one faces everyday to become better people, hence we will start to see hearts of gold appearing everywhere, in different shades.

Impian Seorang Nelayan

This is one of those songs that has more direct words. It is about a fisherman who went out to the sea for the day’s catch. However, it became cloudy and thunderstorms began, so he never returned to the land. He left behind his wife and baby. The song went on to describe the young mother, whom, while feeding her son, wondered about what her future would be like without her husband. She looked at the crying son and said, “you might not understand this now, but when you grow up to be a fine man, please remember your father’s sacrifice for you.”

Dalam pondok kecil beratap rumbia, seorang ibu memandang hari muka, sambil ia menyusukan bayi yang kehausan..

Wahai anak yang sedang menangis, mungking kini kau tak mengerti. Bila kau dewasa dan pandai nanti, pengorbanan ayahmu, sayang, jangan kau lupakan.

For many of us, work is not as hazardous as it is for those who brave the unpredictable nature for a day’s wage, but we still struggle to get the most of our days and face many different dangers along the way. Some of us still do not return from work for various causes: motor vehicle accidents, the rare landslides, major heart attacks or strokes, or even snatch theft that turned very nasty. We do what we’re doing for many reasons, be it our own passion, interest, pushed by some parents, or simply out of desperation to survive in this capitalist world. But when it comes to supporting our own families, work becomes more important, and we’d go through anything so that our children will grow up fine.

So the mother in this song hopes that her son will grow up to be a fine man, despite the absence of his father. She wishes that he would remember his father’s sacrifice for him, as that reminder should prevent him from going astray.

Lagu Untuk Seorang Ibu

Ibuku, mengapa engkau menangis? Apakah yang kurang? Walaupun ayah telah tiada, itu tak bermakna akhirnya hidup kita. Ibuku, tenangkanlah hatimu kerna suria kan pasti menjelma..

This song is not related to, but somehow sounds connected to the above song. It is a heartbreaking song from a son to his mother. They have just lost the father in a battlefield, and the son is convincing his mother that life needs to go on, that there will be light at the end of the tunnel, and that he will take care of her, no matter what happens. He promised himself that he will be the leader of his people so that he could fight for all of them.

Dari itu hentikan tangisan, pandanglah masa depan. Betapa ku cinta padamu, perlukanmu menguatkan semangatku..

People come into our lives, and leave, for many reasons. Some leave this world forever, some leave for what looks like greener pastures, some has forgotten the sacrifices that their loved ones did for themall this while. Nothing lasts forever in this life, happiness will turn to sadness one day, but even darker days aren’t eternal. The rain will subside and the sun will shine brightly again, this time even more glorious. Those left behind should stay together and be there for each other, as that is the whole point of human relationship.

Kepadamu Kekasih

This song is about a man who is giving all that he has; his heart, his soul, his everything; for his love, wondering if all that he has given is enough, or shall he render himself worthless of a lover.

My young primary school self asked, why would a person want to give everything for someone he loves? She’s not even his mother. It did not make sense to me to live your whole life for the love of another person. That person might not even appreciate our precious tokens of love and sacrifice.

So this song was not one of my favourites.

Until one day, the song is sang by M Nasir as a duet with Jamal Abdillah. I was at least a teenager, or in my early twenties. Then only I understood this song.

That love he was talking about was God. He was giving all that he had for the love of God, so that God will love him back. He wondered whether the deeds that he had was sufficient, or was he a worthless lover who should not even exist in this world, but where could he go? The entire universe is His! He hoped that his gifts were accepted, and that when his time has come, he will live with God forever. At the same time, he knew that only God would understand his struggles and his efforts, and to answer his questions and ponderings about the meaning of this life from the signs that God showed.

Kepadamu, Kekasih, aku bertanya, apakah Kau akan menerimaku kembali? Atau harus menghitung lagi segala jasa dan bakti? Atau harus mencampakku ke sisi tanpa harga diri?

Apakah Kau akan menerima penyerahan ini? Apakah kau akan menerimaku dalam keadaan begini?

“Tanpa harga diri.” Without any worth. Like dust.

Which made me think, if we were to live in this world just to end up as pieces of dust, what is the whole point? What would life mean, when all you’re going to become is shrivelled and shrunken, or swollen and puffy, and then end up dead, becoming just particles of protein, fat, calcium and iron. Why all the struggle in life, why all the hardship, why the sacrifice, why the love, the loss? Just to end up as dust? What does it all mean, then? This temporary world, where nothing is fair and just, the kind living poor and oppressed, the crooks rich and continue oppressing.

When it’s all going to decay, then it does not seem to worth living this hard life. Might as well leave before it gets too hard, right?

Then I realized, you will never comprehend the meaning of life, if you do not understand the meaning of death.

And many of us are still struggling to grip on the purpose of life.

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After finishing two articles about M Nasir’s (and Kembara’s) songs, it dawned on me that when it comes to poetry and literature, it is best to appreciate it in its original language.

I suppose my translation is good enough, but reading through these two articles again and again, I did not do justice to the beautiful poetry inspired in the great minds of these men, who have struggled through their journey trying to achieve their dreams while aspiring to comprehend the purpose of this life.

I wish them a blessed life here and in the hereafter.