Nothing Comes Easy
Thirty years is an awful long time to learn a trade. And thirty years was- the length of time he had already taken to get to where he is now.
Who wants to dispute when even to look at the way he holds the brush would take us ages to learn.
It reminds me reading Malcolm Caldwell who says it took Bill Gates thousands hours even to begin his career as computer programmer, which means, knowledge and skill does not come by fluke nor by coincident but surely by labour, coupled with the right timing in the case of Bill Gate that what made him an exception.
You may have by passed this man of 60 at the first glance, near the main entrance of ground floor of flashy Borneo’s biggest shopping complex, 1 Borneo shopping Mall every weekend.
“Generousity of the people of Sabah, their support and their kind hearted make my calligraphy showcase possible for the past one year” said, Mr N.Poolohgasingam, who was born in a Kulai, Johore. Even arranging his chairs and tables every morning is done by ‘neighbours’ he said pointing at the shopkeepers nearby.
He reckoned, up to now he is the only Malaysian if not the only person in the world so far embarking a trade as a calligrapher that uses combined languages namely, Chinese, Rumi and Arabic.
Like many others that I’ve been acquainted with, Poolo, as he prefers to be called has lived in Sabah for the last thirty years. He said nowhere else in Malaysia he thinks a place as beautiful as Sabah and so too the people. He even called himself the Man Below the Wind borrowing the phrase from Keith Agnes’s Land Below the Wind.
He is married to a Sabahan and has one adopted son.
Yet Poolo said, even after thirty years in this trade he still learning every moment of it.
Whilst in the eyes of onlookers, he is no amateur in calligraphy anymore, especially if we have no one to compare him with, my guess is only a matter of time the fruit of his labour would be fully ripe, word ripe may not be most appropriate word to speak of.
Based on his little bibliography, his promotional materials lying on his table. He is the only known Indian who becomes Chinese calligrapher in the world and a self-thought.
He neither has formal Chinese language education nor Art education; it all began at the age of 45, a graduate in Bachelor of Art from University of Malaya.
One acclaim, which I think he deserved to be called to have his on right, is about his invention the Shah Rumi Jawi calligraphy like in the picture above on my name –see Kadayan Journal
I asked if he was ever queried for using Arabic letters such as those used in the Quran with marks -phonetic symbols, he said not really but many would want to know where and how did he learned. I then show them my original source of learning Jawi the muqadam, he said, showing it to me. Fantastic.
In Egypt I said, even the Christian say Allah for God that can’t be used in Malaysia when the authority couldn’t even come up with good reason for disallowing others, except Muslims to use the word.
My reason of asking him the above question was I know Malaysians are obnoxious over something to do with their religion.
The issue on creativity especially when it is done by self-thought, I considered it to be very special. Perseverance is surely one of the determining factors.
To add to his extraordinaire, Poolo is also a self-thought in music as well as a songwriter. He has produced two CDs, one contains a poetic song recorded in 2002 for Hari Raya Idil Fitri, I missed the other title.
Yes, one thing is common to many people like him perhaps anywhere in the world; he likes to be on his own.
He tried many business ventures in the past but business environment wasn’t that friendly to him and time wasn’t right when compare with others who were luckier he said, and therefore its only natural for Poolo to exploit his talent to the fullest- an Indian becomes a Chinese calligrapher and beyond.