In The Midst of Hardship by Latiff Mohidin
In the Midst of Hardship by Latiff Mohidin
At dawn they returned home
their soaky clothes torn
and approached the stove
their limbs marked by scratches
their legs full of wounds
but on their brows
there was not a sign of despair
The whole day and night just passed
they had to brave the horrendous flood
in the water all the time
between bloated carcasses
and tiny chips of tree barks
desperately looking for their son’s
albino buffalo that was never found
They were born amidst hardship
and grew up without a sigh or a complaint
now they are in the kitchen, making
jokes while rolling their ciggarete leaves
This poem is about a family who faces hardship whereby their son’s albino buffalo is nowhere to be found. A flood occurs and they go out to find the buffalo. They reach home early in the morning without the buffalo and yet there is no sign of despair in them. Meanwhile, they can still crack jokes and roll the cigarettes.
SYNOPSIS (ACCORDING TO STANZA)
They returned home at day break and headed for the stove. This is probably because they were hungry. However, I have also received some feedbacks saying that they went straight to the stove to dry themselves as they were drenched with the flood water. Their clothes were soaking wet and tattered. Their bodies were covered with scratches and wounds. Yet, they did not display any signs of being worried.
They were out in the flood the whole day and night. They were surrounded by dead animals and parts of trees that had been destroyed by the flood. We know that the animals were already dead because of the phrase ‘bloated carcasses’. They searched desperately for their son’s albino buffalo but were unable to find it.
They were born into poverty and difficulty, but they do not complain about their suffer. Instead, they sit in the kitchen, cracking jokes while smoking cigarettes. This shows that they face difficulties all the time and this time there is no different. They have inner strength that makes them strong to face any hardship poses to them.
The setting of the poem is in the house.
- Being resilience when facing hardship
- Family love
- Acceptance of way of life
- We should learn to accept problems in life with a positive outlook.
- We must attempt to face and solve problem.
- Facing hardship is part and parcel of life.
- If we face a problem, do not feel despair.
TONE, MOOD, ATMOSPHERE
- Understanding and sympathetic
- Acceptance of situation
POINT OF VIEW
- Third person pint of view.
LANGUAGE & STYLE
- Language is simple and easy to understand.
- The style is simple with no rhyming scheme.
- Imagery – Gives picture of poet’s thoughts e.g ‘soaky clothes torn’ and ‘legs full of wounds’
- Alliteration – e.g. ‘but on their brows’
- Symbols – e.g. ‘horrendous flood’ and ‘bloating carcasses’
- Diction – e.g. ‘stove’ and ‘brows‘
Poem: In The Midst Of Hardship (original Malay version)
This poem will be of interest to Malaysian English language secondary school teachers (and students too) especially those who are teaching or learning Form 4 English Liteature Component.
It's the Malay version of the poem : In The Midst of Hardship by Latiff Mohideen.
I usually find for translated works such as poems, the original meaning may be lost or at best distorted and inaccurately translated.
Anyway, do enjoy the Malay version.
Malay version of In the Midst of Hardship
Mereka pulang ke rumah
waktu subuh hari
dengan pakaian robek basah
menghampiri api tungku
lengan mereka penuh calar
kaki mereka penuh luka
tapi di kening mereka
tidak kelihatan rasa kecewa
mereka mengharungi banjir
berendam antara bangkai ternakan
dan serpihan kulit tumbuhan
kerbau balar si buyung
masih belum ditemui.
Mereka dilahirkan dalam bencana
tidak ada keluhan dan kutukan
kini mereka berjenaka di dapur
sambil menggulung rokok daun.