Remembering a national treasure

Today, since I’m sick, I’ve dedicated my entire content consumption to Sudirman Haji Arshad, since today is his birthday and I saw Google paid tribute to him via the search doodle.

I was (and still am) an avid fan of Sudirman. His music, his comics, his film, everything about him affected me growing up. I remember always asking my Mama to buy me a can of Sudi cola whenever we go to Chow Kit Road and Sogo back in 1986 and 1987. At the age of 8-9, I’ve memorised all his songs.

I also remember about 10 years ago, I wrote a blogpost about Sudirman and I received a comment claimed to be from Atai, his nephew who thanked me for my tribute post.

Now at 36 (going 37), it has been almost 30 years since I first fell in love with Sudirman. I am still in love and at awe with his remarkable and iconic persona.

I watched both the History Channel Biography feature on him and his one and only film, ‘Kami’. Kami was a film released on the year that I was born, 1982, but I only got to watch it a few years after that, during his glory years of late 80s. I remember how the film affected me so much, the hard and gritty life of 2 kids, living on their own and taking care of each other. Watching back ‘Kami’, it is such a great story which deserve international festival recognition.

His strength in performing is remarkably amazing. Every stage presence is an opportunity to impress. He studied, researched, and made sure everything is planned to perfection.

And then there was the Chow Kit Road concert in 1986. I am sure my dad didn’t allow my mom to go because of the massive massive crowd but to know that this 5’2″ small man managed to convince everyone around him to close the road, build a stage, bloody got him a crane for his grand entrance and made it all free for public was more than what any Prime Minister or any person in Malaysia could do. I don’t think even BTS (the Korean pop group) could do it either. That was such a communal thing to do, by such an accomplished performer.

Then in the SEA Games Closing Ceremony in 1989, he wore a 200 feet cape where he made all the athletes hold while he parade in to sing his songs. That is such a commanding charisma.

I remember when he passed away in 1992, I was 10 years old and I remember crying especially when I learned that one of the last songs he performed was ‘Salam Terakhir’. It was such a big impact for a small girl of that age (but at that time, I was already listening to Sheila Majid and Anita Sarawak thanks to my mother’s cassettes). Sometimes I wish that he would still be alive so I get excited to get the opportunity to meet and talk to him.

Sudirman would’ve been 65 years old today. I’m sure, if he is still alive, the entertainment scene would’ve been slightly different. He would’ve raised the benchmark for every living performer in Malaysia.

But I hope he would be so proud knowing that 27 years later, there’s still so much love for him.

Rest in Peace, Sudirman. May your soul be blessed in many ways that you have inspired all of us.

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(Photo Source from News Straits Times)

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