Friday, May 06, 2005


I was browsing the Net, looking for any webpages on Melayu in Glasgow when I stumbled upon Joe's blog. And I can't stop reading until today. To Joe, kudos for your blog!

Plus - thanks for leaving a smiley at the comment link - Never expect that actually. Thought that I would always ramble alone hahaha

I would never have the courage doing what he has done and still doing. It is not easy to be a Bangla in US, or Indon or Viatnamese, Nepalese or even Nigerian for that matter. There were times (many in fact) I feel like I want to dump everything else and go. Just go. But, I don't have the guts to do so. My heart would say go packing but when my conscience kicked in - terbatal niat. I started thinking about who is going to look after mom n dad, send them to clinic/hospital when any of them fall sick, bail out my sister, my nephews and nieces. Ahhh.. responsibilities!

Abah used to tell us how hard his life had been. He was born during Japanese Occupancy so life was never easy. His dad (my grandfather) died when he was still in his mom's tummy, and when he was toddler, my grandma remarried, when he was 10 or so, my grandma died, leaving him with his stepfather who later remarried.. pening? me too.

Well, abah wanted to study, but no one was willing to finance his studies. Everyday he would cycle 18 miles from the village ( a small Javanese kampung in Panchor, Muar Johor) to bandar Maharani. So after finishing his Darjah Khas (Darjah 6 Sekolah Agama) he started looking for jobs.

Abah dream was to get out from his kampung, for him tapping rubber trees is not a living. Every week, he would receive RM4 from Apek who collecting the getah keping. Minus RM2 advance took, he would be left with only RM2. It was just not enough. So the cycle continues. Then one day he decided enough is enough so he left the kampung with only RM10.

From there the journey began, from one plantation to another, he became a rubber tapper. But he never stayed at one plantation for more than a month. From Muar to Kluang then to Segamat and later he was "thrown" to Bukit Ibam steel mine. All he did because he nekad (bukan naked ye :p) to find work that pays well although he was only working in the rail department as controller.

From there he started building his life, mingle with people from different background, learned about different food (he said from where he came from he only knew ikan kering). There he learnt using Brute after shave, Levi's jeans and eat laksa utara. Kesian my dad, he was really like frog under coconut shell before.

Abah is a sentimental person yet a cool guy. Remember Kembang se Taman column in URTV magazine in the old days? Well, it was not in URTV but he sent his pic in one of the pen pal column in megazine (I don't know what was the name) and befriended a guy from Pontian (also in Johor). They became good friends and wrote to each other a lot. One day, his pen pal told him that he is getting married and invited Dad to be his best man. Being a gentleman he is, Abah (sekejap Dad sekejap Abah hehehe) accepted his invitation as the best man he must be at the groom's house to help prepare for the wedding.

The first day Abah arrived at the house, he was surprised to see that the house was well decorated. The old rumah limas was nicely decorated. Bright colour curtains adorned the windows and beautiful flower arrangements are almost at every corner of the house. You see Abah's pen pal said that he stayed at the house with his mother and his dad had passed away when he was little, but Abah was sceptical because the decoration in the house seems like it was not done by an old lady as the taste was more modern (during that time in the 60s). But, Abah never said a word to his friend and just opted to wait and see.

Then the sound of bicycle confirmed Abah's suspicion. There is somebody else living in the house besides the friend and his mother. It is the friend's younger sister who is working as a teacher. It was love at first sight for Dad. He was 29 and she was 28. Quite unusual during that time. They were already anak dara tua and bujang terlajak in that society's standard.

So he approached his friend's mother and told her that he wanted to ask her hand in marriage and will send his family for the proper tradition. The mother accept the proposal as she felt that Abah is a decent man. All the preparation begins. During that time Abah would travel to and fro Bukit Ibam and Pontian. A month before the wedding, Abah's fiance fall sick. She was admitted to hospital and quarentined for almost a month. Abah's future-mother-in-law decided that it's best to cancel the wedding and offered Abah to find other decent woman in the village to be his bride but Abah declined. He said he would wait and rather postpone the wedding until his fiance is well. During that time Abah got an offer of a job in Australia, but thinking that he is going to start a family, he had to let go the offer.

Needless to say, the wedding continued as planned and he brought his new bride to Bukit Ibam. When the mine was closed, Abah started his own sundry shop. Two years later my elder sister was born and three years after, I was born. We are both Pahangites. In 1974, a few days after I was born, we all relocate to Ampang. A gamble that Abah took to raise his family far away from his and her families. He bought a small plot on Government's land for RM2,000 and set a sundry shop underneath a big tree.

I still remember that wooden shop, flanked by two workshops one motorcyle and the other cars on the left and right. I remembered playing around the shop, sitting in the boxes and pretending it was a car or plane, going to places in my imaginary lands. Business was good for my family and by the time I was in Standard 3, I can carry a sack of 5kg rice for customer, I can use the mesin kelapa, I learned a bit of Mandarin the profanities of course (because Abah's friends are mostly Chinese) and I learned the Abacus (although I still failed my Add Math in Form 5).

I also remember sitting on Abah's motorcycle and accidently made the bike's fall down on the side and burned my knee on the hot exhaust. Crying when my foot accidently trapped between the "lidi tayar" (god! my English teruk today!). Then one day I remembered my dad told me that we have to move out from the place. The Government wants to develop the place, said Dad. So, we were given three weeks to move out. It was sad to see the back hoe used to demolished the wooden shop where I spent my life (at that time I felt my life collapsed along with the piles of wood), playing with my friends and my imaginary friends.

If any of you (just if anybody reading me blog, thought this was xclusive for me before hahaha) remember the old big tree along at Jalan Ampang near the old bungalows. There was where our shop was. Now, the place, the exact place stood Ampang Point shopping complex. (the entrance was where our shop was)

1 comment:

Sdan said...

As'kum brader...
I was born in Bukit Ibam..