When I was supposed to contribute to Singa-Pura-Pura, I thought to myself, “YES, I can do it in English!” and though I could understand Malay, writing it with poetic meaning was a different thing. When I wrote it, there were many things happening such as Covid-19 and the Circuit Breaker. The government told us to pretty much work at home and to stay in as much as possible. There were also charities and mutual aid groups popping up more to help people who could not work during this period.
My inspiration for "Quota" came from charities and elaborate paperwork required for those who need social help through government agencies. I learned about mutual aid that was organised by people giving aid to those who don't know how to apply for government assistance or didn't qualify for it.
At that time, there was also news of wars, pollution and other countries ignoring the situation and it was getting really out of hand. It got me to think what if an entity just decided to wrench control from us humans since we were messing up the earth. There was a recent TikTok video of a person trying to parallel park a car for over 20 minutes until the passenger took the wheel and did it immediately. Imagine the passenger’s annoyance when they could have just taken over, done things quickly and gone on their way. But being human means having a choice to do things.
In "Quota", while the ‘entity’ is benevolent to give everyone a bit of happiness, is everyone’s happiness the same? If everyone was happy, would they be empathetic about the happiness of others or would they just leave it to the authorities to do something about it since it was not their place to think about such things? Would selfishness affect the happiness of all or should we concentrate on our own happiness when it is given?
Would you try to gain your own happiness at the cost of others?
Maisarah Abu Samah
(From August 21, 2021)