Epigraph The sad thing about the world today is that in spite of our tremendous resources, incredible technology, The ending of the cold wars etc…life for the majority of people on this planet remains abysmal. Millions go hungry every night, are homeless, victims of innumerable wars, famine and diseases, both old and new such as Ebola and AIDS. When I see or hear of these injustices in a world of plenty when such things can be cured, circumvented or avoided I get hopping mad, especially when the victims are innocent children.
And I am forced to bare my teeth not only as a therapeutic exercise to keep my rancour in check but hopefully also stir someone out there to get equally angry and do something about our miserable situation. I am a great believer in what Seamus Heaney calls the redress of poetry and am firmly convinced that poetry has a role to play in redressing the imbalances of the world.- Cecil Rajendra (1996, p.31)
Rajendra was born in Penang and spent the best part of his childhood in the fishing village of Tanjong Tokong. He received his formal education in St Xavier’s Institution, Penang, the University of Singapore and Lincoln’s Inn, London where he qualified as a Barrister-at-law in 1968. In the early 1970s, he initiated a highly successful Third World Cultural Forum called “Black Voices” in the basement of the Troubadour Coffee House, in old Brampton Road, London.
While residing in London, Rajendra was the first Malaysian poet to be listed by the National Poetry Secretariat of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as well as the London Poetry Secretariat. He practices in Penang, where he actively handles free legal aid to serve needy people who normally have no access to legal representation.
Rajendra’s poetry is mostly concerned with issues such as war, poverty, social injustice and environmental devastation. His poems have been published and broadcast in many countries and translated into several languages including Japanese, Chinese, Tamil, Urdu, Bengali, German, Malay, Tagalog, Danish, Dutch and Spanish.
Environmental issues are one of Rajendra’s favourite concerns. One of the prominent points in environmental issues is forest preservation, which is not a utopian dream if there is a concerted effort and deep-rooted awareness in humankind to safeguard nature.
Indiscriminate clearing of trees and hilltops has become more prevalent these days without considering the pernicious effort. Rajendra’s persona describes the destruction of the rainforest and the animals living in the rainforest. In Requiem for a Rainforest, it seems that nothing can be done to stop this from happening.