“You’re the biggest goddamn 12-year old I ever met!”
In some twisted way, that was probably the second nicest thing anyone said to me during our reunion at Langkawi last weekend. I was really touched.
It all began when about a year ago when a dear friend (and former employer) mooted the idea of a reunion for our batch (the 1975 intake of MRSM Seremban). Frankly, I was a bit sceptical because the plan specified, of all things, that the entire group shall be flown to Langkawi on a chartered flight. My mind immediately protested: collecting everyone’s portion of the charter was going to be a logistical nightmare. I would have been better off if I were to start building the plane with my bare hands right there and then. This way, we stood a better chance of arriving at Langkawi in the same aircraft on the slated date. Continue reading
Mother: What’s wrong with our driver? Where did he go?!
Daughter: You complain too much, Ma. This happened with Pa, too, remember? And I don’t think either one of them is coming back…
(Photograph courtesy of Muhsein Sofian)
During the Christmas holidays – or any other public holiday for that matter – the world and his brother-in-law will descend on Umbai for the ikan bakar. Sleepy back roads, normally the domain of a few cows and goats, take on the appearance of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman at rush hour. Compounds of nearby houses, usually vacant except for the odd underbone motorcycle or two, are miraculously transformed into temporary car parks – often without the consent of the houseowner. And the normally peaceful night is shot to pieces by the constant ringing of the ikan bakar operators’ cash registers.
When it comes to things literary, I can be a snob at times. It is seldom (very seldom indeed) that I get excited about the work of writers who are not yet dead. And if the writer happens to be younger than I am, hails from Malaysia and hasn’t got a book to his name, it’s likely I’ll never notice him till he kicks the bucket – twice.
But my days of literary snobbery are over! In a Facebook status update recently, a dear old friend asked me to have a look-see at his son’s blog, ‘Hold That Pose’. Frankly, I went in not expecting to see anything new. However, I ended-up reading the blog from beginning to end, immersed in each word as if they were the sweet, calming breath of a long lost beloved.
I recall buying my first pair of Stan Smiths. It cost a RM45 a pair back in 1977. This was an insane amount for a pair of shoes when, for example, a clerk at MAS at the time earned only RM175 a month. It was even more insane when you happen to be a 15-year old student with no income to speak of.
But buy them I did. I even tried bargaining with the lady. Since I had rather dainty feet (size 6, actually), I argued they should be cheaper because less material was used. I thought this was rather clever. Then the lady replied, “OK, I understand. But if you want your money’s worth, young man, may I suggest you get a size 11?”
Sometimes coming home isn’t easy.
When you’ve been away for a bit too long, you no longer know what to expect. Fear creeps in. Doubt begins to gnaw. What was once a sanctuary – a place of safety – now seems like a treacherous network of dark, foreboding tunnels. One wrong turn, a careless miscalculation, a hesitant pause could all spell disaster.
This is how I feel coming back to ‘Tea and Scones’.