In the 50s I used to listen to the Indonesian stations on the radio with my father. He listens to the news many times daily, picking up happenings during the Soekarno regime, especially reports from Sumatra.
In between the serious news items, the songs come on the air. One of the cheekiest songs that I've learned as a child was this one called, Aksi Kucing. In English, it literally translates as the Pride of a Cat. Snooty? Or literally the arrogant or snobbish attitude of a cat. Or feline?
You know how a cat moves, always arching its back and moving around like a prima-donna as if it's on a fashion parade assignment. The models are always told to behave arrogantly. No wonder the platforms are called catwalks.
Jangan suka hey, malu malu kucing
Don't be shy like a cat. Or don't pretend to be shy like a cat.
And the way these animals move... They possess and control the household.
Sudah menerkam sa-belumnya berunding
Would pounce before discussion...
lama, lama, dari kawan jadi lawan.
After a while, from a friend, they become foe.
Singer and Composer:
Sung by one of the pop legends from Indonesia, pretty singer Ms. Titiek Sandhora has been in the music scene since the 70s. With a crisp and typically well-sounding Indonesian style, she oozes sensuality in her interpretation.
The composer himself was keroncong music exponent Oei Yok Siang, an Indonesian Chinese, who had scripted a number of famous songs like *Impian Semalam, Gambang Semarang, Menanti Melati, Gulung Lengan Bajumu, Bunga Leili, Setangkai Bunga Mawar, and other songs, mostly written in the mid-thirties and forties.
* Impian Semalam:
A Poem About Cats:
During my later years in the 80s, when I was in Aberdeen, Scotland, I was introduced to UK poet, Thom Gunn, one of seven modern poets that included Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes. Gunn wrote one about his apartment cats (below the picture.)
Thom Gunn Modern British poet with his snooty apartment cat which refuses to look at the camera. Typical Aksi Kucing attitude.Taken from Penguin Books (details below).
'Apartment Cats' extracts (full-text image below)
The Girls wake, stretch and pad up to the door,
They rub my leg and purr:
The other rolls back on the floor -
Now, more awake they re-enact Ben Hur
Along the corridor.
Their eyes get wild their bodies tense.
Tail-thumped and smothered mew.
She abruptly rises, knowing well
How to stalk off in wise indifference.
Thom Gunn knows his cats as well as the Indonesian composer. Cheers.
Turning back to the early 60s, I took part in a National Language Month Singing Competition - there were many of these contests those years. It was organised by our radio station, then Radio Malaysia Singapura and got a consolation prize for my effort. Sure. I sang Aksi Kuching. It was a contest for non-Malays to sing in Bahasa Melayu.
My little trophy which I recently found hiding in a cupboard was all dark and dirty. I soaked it in Coke and polished it and got it sparkling again (image). I forgot the trophy but still remember the song.
By the way, I love cats.
The Thom Gunn poem: 'Apartment Cats' from Worlds Seven Modern Poets: Edited by Geoffrey Summerfield, 1979. Penguin Books.
Images from Google, Penguin Books, and A Personal Collection.