I have to go away for awhile, but I’ll leave you with this video from YouTube.
I know this is not Sinatra, but towards the end of the video there are snippets in which Mr Williams’ expressions are just priceless.
This is my way of saying thanks to the people who have come here and made my life all the richer for the experience. This song goes to Higashi-san, Dry Humour, Puteri Kamaliah, Kak Teh, De Minimis, Tommy Yew, Pok Deng, Elviza, Kassim Ahmad, Embun, Salmongkol, Mamasita, A Voice, Pak Tuo, Galing68, Dak Ah Bau, Iftinanz, Jordan, Theta, the-plague, Andrea Whatever, Cakapaje and of course, Mat Salo.
Last weekend I found myself in the kampong where my father was born; a secluded little village called Parit Nipah, near Muar. Now, after a week has passed, why I was there in the first place is no longer as important as what I had experienced with my friend, Jamil, while I was there.
Jamil and I grew up together. But life – being what it is – had not dealt him very many good hands through the years. Though he works hard, and is in many respects smarter than I will ever be, he has never managed to make it out of Parit Nipah. Today, he supports his wife and five kids by tending to a small plot of rubber trees and doing odd jobs in and around the village.
Over a few ‘teh tariks’ when I was in Melaka the other day, a close friend broached the question as to why I do not blog about socio-political issues. I knew this would come up one of these days; I just didn’t think it would be so soon. In fact, there was a brief but sweet period when I actually thought I could get away without having to address the question. Was there a way of getting out of this?
“Yeah, tell me, why aren’t you a so-po blogger” Ridwan pressed.
The sweltering heat under the zinc roofing of our favourite ‘mee goreng’ stall was even more oppressive than the recession that swept the country at the time. It was 1997 and the economic downturn – almost at its peak – had spawned more prophets of doom and gloom than there were people who were actually unemployed. Almost overnight, anyone who thought they had even half a brain, had hunkered down and fashioned themselves as either a world-class economics expert or a know-it-all political critic – and in some cases, even both.
That he eventually became a doctor ought to have amounted to something. But sadly, it hasn’t. Because of his relative lack of progress in all things material, people have often accused him of not trying hard enough – in anything. In other words, most folks think of him as your garden variety lazy bugger. But then again, it is only too human to pass judgement such as this on others from the comfort of our snug little lives; a trap people with snug little lives have fallen into over and over again since time immemorial. Perhaps I have not fallen into this trap because he is a good friend – a brother, even. Or, more likely than not, the reason for this is because – unlike my contemporaries – my life, as it is, is less than snug.
“What you doing, bro?” I blurted into the phone.
“Same old thing: Writing cheques to pay very angry creditors with money the company does not have. What did you think?” Jamal replied (real name withheld to protect the guilty).
“Again? I think you’re not allowed to do that, Jamal”
“I’ll be dammed if I don’t do anything about this mess. I’ll find the money to cover these cheques, tho. However, it won’t come from my useless shareholders, I can assure you that!”
Lately, I think my life has reinvented itself into a country song – you know, the kind of song where the singer’s dog gets run down by the school bus; his mother accidentally burns down his house (while he is still in it); his girlfriend finds out he isn’t really that hot after all and runs off with their pet orang-utan; and the love of his life, his 1975 Honda CB550 motorcycle, is stolen (by the orang-utan).