Diam is Malay for quiet. Like English there are many other ways to describe the silence. Senyap which will forever sound authoritative to me, thanks no thanks government education institutionalisation. There’s tenang, which is more serene. The kind of word you’d use in the term ‘peace and quiet’ I guess. And sunyi, which I think actually means loneliness, like the resounding echo within a forest or tread of a foot inside an abandoned rumah kampung. Diam to me isn’t dissimilar to senyap. When the voice in my head says it, I can hear a mental cracking of the whip and I feel like I’m about to jump how high. You tell me Form 1 Geography teacher, I live to be submissive. But the secondary meaning for diam is the verb for living or ‘to reside’. I’ve always liked the duality to the meaning of the word diam. Just four letters in a ‘native’ language of mine that once upon a time I absolutely detested that I had to spend ten years of my life studying comprehensively. Until I realised that every language is worth learning. And that diam completely encapsulates my yearning to live quietly. Keep in mind, I was never very good at Malay.

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