Monday, January 27, 2014

Lobai.

I heard recently he wasn't well - a minor stroke or something like that. So when he turned up at Nosa's wedding reception Saturday, I walked up to him and welcomed him with a fond embrace, and let me tell you, that's not something I do easily. But "fond" is not feigned here. We go back 63 years, Lobai and I.

When apak moved to Tg. Malim to take up that teaching job at S.I.T.C. - those days the English acronyms were preferred, thus UMNO was born - Lobai came along with us. That was 1951. We all took the train from Seremban, my first sooty ride. KTM had coal-burning locomotive engines then, and because of the open windows (where got air-con, ma !) it was sooty, and the good rule was don't wear white shirts. As soon as we moved into the assigned single-storey brick bungalow (wow, "bungalow"!), apak sent Lobai to buy a kettle to make some tea. I remember he cycled to the shop, but can't remember where he got the bicycle. It must have been from Hj. Hassan, the new neighbour in front of the "rumah empat". Because there were 4 similiar bungalows ( wow, "bungalows"!) clustered together, it was rumah empat, like "rumah enam" the other end of the S.I.T.C. campus with 6 houses. There's another story about this rumah enam, but that can wait.

Lobai didn't stay with us long. But he stayed long enough to help apak set up their first make-shift developing room for the photography that apak took up. That brought in some money, with the college students eager to send home pictures of their stay. Apak later produced home-made Raya greetings with the messages drawn on white manila cards and the photo of the sender set around the handdrawn letterings, all done by apak quite nicely. It was all black-and-white,still.

Lobai was apak's student at Sekolah Melayu Kuala Pilah, right up to Std. 6. That was it, then. If you didn't go further up the studentship, you end up in the forces, or became a clerk or a "normal-trained" Malay school teacher somewhere in Johol or Kuala Klawang. So he came to Tg. Malim. His case was the first. Later there was Pak Cik Haris and Pak Cik Cup. That I'll relate later.

I don't know when exactly he left us. I never saw him again until he retired from the army, which was where he went. He got married and all that but I don't know if apak went or was invited. But he looked the way I remember him in Tg. Malim. He looked remarkably the same at Nosa's function, and said "I'm 18" when I asked. Only he had not been well recently. But 80 is still remarkable.

When apak died, Lobai was with me  in the grave where he held one side of apak's shroud, me the the foot-side. When I almost lost my grip as we lowered the shroud, Lobai chided me. Lowering apak into the "liang lahad" was Lobai's last service to apak, his old teacher and mentor.

It was a fond embrace indeed, Saturday at Nosa's reception.


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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Melang Inn Hotel

Melang Inn Hotel appears a redundancy since an inn is a hotel, but then you also have Holiday Inn Hotels. Anyway M.I.H. offers a surprisingly pleasant venue for Nosa's return reception for her son's wedding last month in Kulim.
I had to make a choice, because Onny and my younger brother Yusof also sent invitations for the exact same date and time, but both in KL. Because of my advanced involvement here, I decided for  the M.I.H.
When Calit said no wonder I didn't call I said I want to come back earlier to watch the Ladies Tennis Australian Final at 4, and I did. And as expected Li Na won her second Grand Slam 7/6-6/0 ! At 31!.
Nosa had an excellent turnup, and the caterers had to top up the food several times, and the bubur pulut hitam and cendol and cakes were finished by 2 although the whole thing was supposed to last till 4. Ismail Lassim came but when I quietly left at 3 there was no Hasan Malek or Adnan.
Capt. Hadi came with his Chinese wife and I teased him the other  day it was a different spouse and his wife made a face. I sat with them until they left. Azrul from the Kulim group I also pulled and he sat for a while before excusing himself. I'd been trying to match him up to Nosa's  nurse daughter, but she was too shy to come when I called her out.
Fauziah came earlier and taunted hey ex YB ! and I returned the compliments I thought you're no more. Ada, ada she said. When she was talking to Neng I said to Neng you can listen to her but don't follow whatever she says and Fauziah made a fist at me.
As I said, M.I.H. is not bad. Sitting down the hall can take 400, and the air-conditioning is very good. Beats the sweltering tents, and at 500 each, times about 8 tents, it's not cheaper. And standard rooms are only 68 ringgit.
It was good. Only Mawi didn't make his appearance as Gafal had intimated. Maybe he came with the Astro people after I left.



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Friday, January 10, 2014

Malek Osman

Calit and I just made it to the surau at Lavender Heights for the final rites (sembahyang jenazah), Mat Cit coming late held up the prayers for about five minutes. When I went to pass the invitation cards for Dekna's wedding last August for Zul, Wok and Gayah, Zul said Malek had just moved to Lavender Heights, so I gave him a card to personally pass to him. I said I remember him a long time ago when Mak Long Limah and family used to stop over, sometimes sleep over, at our house in Tanjong Malim, on their way to or from Cameron Highlands where Pak Long Osman was working. Malek passed away Thursday.
We spoke a bit, Zul and I, him regretting not informing me personally. Ajit was the one who called me at 12 noon. These sort of things somehow get communicated and we don't usually try to reconfirm the sad news. We just go.
Mak Long Limah and Pak Long Osman have gone long now, as has Bang Lang Hamid. When I was at varsity I remember coming home for a  weekend and knowing Bang Lang Hamid was at that time in Tampin and we didn't have a tv set then, I rode on my BN 3950 Honda 90 cc all the way to Tampin from Kuala Pilah because I wanted to watch a popular programme - I can't remember exactly, it was High Chapparal or something. I'd been following it at the 2nd College and was more or less hooked. Bang Lang was laid to rest in Seremban, if I'm not mistaken. His widow, from Pahang, died some years later.
Malek was a vet. He did come to Dekna's wedding. Zul must have delivered the invitation card. I'm happy that I took the time to speak to him that evening. In fact they were all standing together,  the siblings, Malek, Wok,Gayah and Zul. 
 Malek is also now laid to rest here in Seremban.


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