Suci Dalam Debu (Pure in Dust) by the late Saleem from Iklim

I am greeted with the sad news today that Saleem, the head singer of the Iklim group, passed away on 14 October 2018. According to news report, he met with an accident and died from the complication (he actually broke 12 ribs and one of the rib ruptured his lungs).

His passing will surely be missed. I grew up listening to his songs. I could memorize the song Suci Dalam Debu by hard when it was a hit song then (better than I could remember my studies). His passing, along with some of my favourite singers like Sudirman, Shamrin (lead singer of Fotograf) and Fendi (the group A to Z).

As a person struggling with ADHD symptoms, I had real problems in school and had to work 10 times harder than most students to pass through my exams. The Malay rock ballads had often accompanied my studies throughout elementary, high school and university. These songs also accompanied me during difficult times of my life. My favourite radio show was “Pilihan Bersama”. And now I have SinarFM in my car radio’s preset.

Saleem’s songs are part of the lives of so many other Malaysians. I love his song Bukan Aku Tak Cinta which I have attempted to translate into English a few years ago. One of the ways the beauty of the Malay language is being expressed is in its songs. The sentences in a lot of Malay rock ballads are profound and deep that I sometimes could not find any English words or phrases adequate enough to translate their meaning.

Here is the English translation of his famous song, Suci Dalam Debu (Pure in Dust), an evergreen love ballad together:

Engkau bagai air yang jernih
You are like the clear water
Di dalam bekas yang berdebu
Contained within a dusty container
Zahirnya kotoran itu terlihat
The dirt is so obviously seen
Kesucian terlindung jua
The purity get shielded off

Cinta bukan hanya di mata
Love is not only in the eyes
Cinta hadir di dalam jiwa
Love is present within the soul
Biarlah salah di mata mereka
Let it be wrong in their eyes
Biar perbezaan terlihat antara kita
Let the difference be seen between us


Kuharapkan kau kan terima
I hope that you would accept
Walau dipandang hina
Even when being looked down & despised
Namun hakikat cinta kita
However the truth of our love
Kita yang rasa
We (are the ones who) feel it

Suatu hari nanti *
One day in the future
Pastikan bercahaya
Surely it will light 
Pintu akan terbuka
The door would open
Kita langkah bersama
We would step together

Di situ kita lihat **
There we would see
Bersinarlah hakikat
The truth would shine through (prevail)
Debu jadi permata
Dust becomes diamond
Hina jadi mulia
Despised becomes exalted/ virtuous 

Bukan khayalan yang aku berikan
Not illusion that I am giving
Tapi keyakinan yang nyata
But real confidence
Kerana cinta
Because of love
lautan berapi
the firely ocean
Pasti akan kurenang jua
Surely would I swim across

Repeat Chorus, * and ** till fade.

Other translation of  my favourite Malay songs are contained in the Music category.

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