I picked this book up last year on a whim as I wanted to learn about Yasmin Ahmad, film director extraordinaire, maker of ads who made Malaysians remember that we are a nation united.
When I got home, I shelved the book away as I have a TBR list that looks like a bookshelf at a bookstore. Yesterday, even though I am in the midst of reading Donna Tartt’s ‘A Secret History’, I felt like picking up something Malaysian. Rummaging through my shelves, I could not seem to locate my copies of Rehman Rashid’s ‘A Malaysian Journey’ or even Karim Raslan’s ‘Ceritalah’ books (where oh where have they gone?). I spied “Yasmin How You Know?” on my TBR shelf and decided to give it a go.
The book itself looks unfinished – but as the note at the back says, this is intentional. It was designed with the ‘yet-to -be perfected’ look.
This book is a compilation of memories of those who were close to her – interactions, sms-es, pictures. They showcase the lady that she was, the way she looked at life and lived it with every fibre of her being. Filled with anecdotes from the different phases of her life, up to the day she passed away – some make you laugh, and some make you see the world through her eyes but most of all they make you realise that she was a lady with a beautiful soul who personified what it is to be Malaysian.
I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Yasmin Ahmad, or even anyone who wants to have a glimpse into Malaysia. It is fairly light reading and engaging – a worthy “memoir” for the remarkable lady.
As an aside, one of my favourite commercials is by her – the Petronas Independence Day (Merdeka) commercial starring a kid called Tan Hong Ming. One of the anecdotes in the book notes the following:
Then she said, “I didn’t do this commercial. God did it.”
She explained how she had initially thought that she was done with shooting Tan Hong Ming who said his best friend is a boy who wears a songkok (a headgear often worn by Malaysian Muslims).
But Tan Hong Ming kept pestering her, pulling at her baju kurung and saying strange things like “I’m a vegetarian”.
So she kindly humoured the 7-year-old, putting the camera on him and asking, “Do you have a girlfriend?” And that’s when the magic just flowed.
Nothing was scripted. It was all real. It was just an innocent little child, speaking from the heart. And when Ummi Qasrina came by, her heart echoed these same pure thoughts. All the team had to do was keep the camera rolling. “Only God can do things like that” said Yasmin.
This book is chock-ful of them… Here are some of my favourites:
Yasmin on Perfection:
It is perfect to be imperfect, because perfection is made up of many imperfections put together that makes it perfect.
Yasmin on God:
Of course God has a sense of the ridiculous. God created us, didn’t he?
Yasmin on Climbing Up in Life:
Don’t always want to go up. Go down, like water, because eventually it’ll go up again. Just like rain, it falls from the sky, flows as a river then merges with the sea, then goes up again as a cloud.