Ethnocentric Sabahan


So cool, Shayna thought, as the four member boy band performed their second number for the night. The multitude of art students erupted in rapturous screams, the air buzzing with their excitement. Shayna swayed her torso along the tune hummed a cappella, her eyes mesmerized by the sight of the performers. When they sang the first words in the lyrics, the crowd’s euphoric shouts rose deafeningly, glee faces flashing everywhere. Shayna couldn’t stop herself from beaming as well.

The songsters, men a little older than she was, looked extremely dashing. They’re clean. Their designer clothes, their spotless sneakers, their smooth countenance with the stage lights striking down on them set them apart from the unremarkable boys in her school, those who never had two pennies to rub together. These guys are so metrosexual. Beady eyed, Shayna gazed at the band members and decided they are the coolest boys ever, and she has got to get herself one of those. Instinctively, she glanced sideways at her classmate Therese. Unlike the rest of the crowd, her friend looked rather subdued and had a mysterious grin on her face. Her classmate from out of town had always been a little odd.


Therese regarded the boys with mild interest, clinically studying their showmanship, unmoving barring to look at the crowd. The boy’s R&B singing voice sounded subpar compare to their Western counterparts, though reminiscent of it. At least, they have a talent to perform, flashing their teeth and motioning their heads to the music. They’re like a band of fluting snake charmers and the audience, the charmed snakes. Judging by her fellow classmates’ screaming reaction, they’re outrageously hot. She quirked a corner of her lips at the thought as she fought off a rising tut. No one would notice, but she rather not laugh at herself lest some people would stamp her demented, acting out of place amongst rabid fan.

Still, her kampung men could make the performers sound like drag queens. They had bass voices, instead of these nasal voice blokes. She was reminded of her latex-rolling, mountain-climbing, paddy-farming drunkards at home, who would drink in joyous company after a hard days’ work. People here drink to draw attention, or escape the stress of modern living — sad really.

She sighed. How she longed to see home. She glanced beyond the open stage at the inky black skies. Night was drawing late and she wondered when this event would be over as the crowd chorused resoundingly for another song, the fifth one for the night. The boy band acceded. As they started for what they claimed to be their final number, Therese’s could feel her face sank. The boys’ singing had turned into caterwauling in her ears and all she wanted was to hit the sack. She looked at Shayna to her right, and guessed her girlfriend didn’t want the night to end.

And it’s probably true.

Stories and characters are inspired by experience.


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