By Farouk Gulsara

Malaysia National Day Special

file

Like the Sword of Damocles, his domestic troubles hung over his head. There was nothing much he could do about it. It had gone on too long, too deep. He just had to live with it and move around it. He could not give up everything. There was a nagging heaviness in his temples. He knew things were going to take a nasty turn and it might get worse. He had created some arbitrary goals to improve his life, but this one had crashed it all. But still, life had to continue. As they say in showbiz, the show must go on.

He knew it was a bad idea. With all these problems plaguing him, he thought it was inappropriate for him to participate in this event. But then, it was also a lifetime achievement — a success hailed by his kinsmen as the epitome of his checkered life. Akin to a water lily, growing wild amongst the filth of marsh, stench and reptiles infested wetland to glorify the lotus feet of Buddha, it was an achievement enviable to some but yearned by all and privileged to only a few!

The problem, as he understood, was not something that developed overnight. Like a crystal, the lattice had developed over the years slowly but surely to its full wrathful glory. How could he be so dumb? Or was it beyond his control and was decided by the constellations and the genetic predisposition?

Advertisements

There are two very different ways of retracing China’s tumultuous years before Mao, when the disintegration of the foreign Qing dynasty opened the doors to both wondrous and disastrous possibilities, for individuals and their families, and for the Chinese world as a whole: Rowan Callick in The Australian

The more optimistic options were of course slammed shut by Mao Zedong’s three disastrous decades, from which the country still has not fully recovered. But individuals could make a difference even within such a teeming stage.

Craig Collie’s book The Reporter and the Warlords focuses on a remarkable Australian, William Henry Donald. A case might be made that he had more influence over more lives than any other Australian since Federation. Donald’s story is painted within a massive canvas, with a vast supporting cast of colourful players.