Tag Archives: abah


We’ve moved into a new place. A bit of a change since the new house has 2 floors instead of the sprawling L-shaped single floor plan we’ve been accustomed to over the years in Kemunting.

The thing I’m going to miss most is the 6 am duel between the surau and the hindu temple next to the field along a substantial stretch of Jalan Kemunting. The call and beat of the faithful. A solemn,  unadorned  azan  before or after the parp and thump from the belly of the temple.

The old house had monitor lizards and squirrels and lanky black foxes that climb down from the tree next to the zinc-roofed park shed. I found a green snake once in the main bathroom. The porcelain blue sink broke providing entry for serpent to wiggle in from the  drainage. I panicked and told Abah and he panicked as well. Both of us pathetic little boys, grossed out by creepy crawlies. I hesitated on calling the fire brigade; it would be acquiescence to my cowardice. Abah took the old yellow bike and went to a neighbours to maybe ask for help. He got distracted and just made small talk with Pak Cik Ali or whatever his name is. I finally went over to the field opposite our house and offerred a bunch of kids some money if they could catch the little serpent whereupon a middle-aged chinese gentleman took hold of the situation and bumped the snake on the head with arwah Nenek’s walking cane.

My wife hurt her ankle in our room in Kemunting. She was on a chair, trying to get hold of a suitcase on the wardrobe so that she can pack up and leave me. The plastic chair broke, she fell and tore a part of the skin covering the flexor hallucis longus tendon above her right ankle. The yellow walls bore witness to blood and tears. There’s a  heart-shaped scar tissue (happy belated valentines’, baby) where the old wound healed to mark my guilt.

I wasn’t even home. I was the snake in the drainage, breathlessly gliding towards the light to escape from the filth below only to confront the error of my ways. Thumped on the head.



Filed under anecdotal

Keketatan Spenderku

One of the things I envy most about my abah is that he’s skinny enough to put on a skinny tie. Like this morning while we were lacing our oxfords for work. Throw in a pair of worn Chuck Taylors into his ensemble, replete with a black and blue skinny paisley tie and he’d look like Johnny Knoxville in a GQ spread. I did one final check in the mirror before walking out the door and decided that I looked, in my HUGE red and blue striped tie, like a multi-level salesperson. Peddling ‘performance-enhancing’ cock-spray.

I had my own narrow neckwear aspirations but decided that I’d look like P. Ramlee waiting for his girlfriend at Zoo Negara in Masam Masam Manis. Not that that’s a bad thing. Nevermind that he just got out of work (he’s a teacher) and it was probably sweltering. As dashing a figure he was, it just wasn’t, well, flattering.

But sartorially speaking, skinny ties, like skinny jeans, work on skinny people. Even P, who’s developed the beginnings of a promising dad-belly, just about gets away with wearing one to his hotel’s anniversary dinner. In abah’s zegna 3 button jacket nevertheless, bought at one of the Sunday bundles.

Speaking of skinny jeans. While I was at primary school, just about all the cool kids wore tight pants. Thanks to the proliferation of local bands who wanted to be Van Halen or Iron Maiden or Bon Jovi. Being an impressionable young thing, I wanted a pair too. The problem was (and always have been) that I am, well, pudgy. Not grossly obese but definitely not as tall and lanky as Sebastian Bach (Skid Row vocalist) or even Yem Bai (some local band’s bassist, I think) to warrant their pants-size preferences.

Anyway, I did my own alterations on a pair of white cotton slacks I wore to school. I was a prefect, hence the colour. It didn’t take long to stitch just the bottom part of the pants because the top is just big enough to fit my big fat hips. So I’d slip a plastic bag over my feet so the pant-leg would slide easier over them. By the time I was ready I was sweating profusely even before I got on my bike for the ride to school.

It worked like a charm as the kids gave adoring glances down the legs of my pants. True, I wouldn’t pass of as Richie Sambora in red star-spangled spandex. But at least I had a passing semblance to the fat guitarist from Utopia (Mithali Cintaku) or even Ozzy who was a little on the fatter side of the spectrum.

The bubble burst during PJ one day. We were playing rounders (a kid’s version of softball) and I’d forgotten my track bottoms. So there I was, batting in my tight white pants. I hit a scorcher and went storming to start my run, As I reached second base, my right foot slid on a wet patch and down I went into an impressive James Brown split. There was a cracking sound somewhere below and sure enough I had split my pants. Bodies were tumbling all around me in fits of laughter. Even the girls a few yards away, shooting netballs.

All of this happened during my pre-underwear era. I told myself that nobody saw. A futile attempt at consoling myself. Sure enough, my nether regions, specifically the family jewels, were coated in damp earth and fragments of grass and what must’ve been kuah keropok. This last substance scaring the shit out of me as I thought I was bleeding.

So I started to wear briefs. Big red ones that showed through my white pants that the kids would snicker at from behind as we climbed the set of stairs to class. Fuck that. I went back to going commando. Until I was at boarding school and I got embarrased by not owning any underwear to scrub while doing laudry with the other boys who looked so happy scrubbing away at their skid marks. So I got a bunch of them thingies. White Funai’s. I’m back in the fold: a happy guy with y-fronts on top of his laundry pile.

Until I saw one of them sprawled on a glass encased notice board along one of the hallways in the main school building. I knew I shouldn’t have written my name on them pesky things.

Oh, one more thing. I wear boxers now. 


Filed under anecdotal

Two flags and a bleeding toe.


When I reached home after school this afternoon, the flags were already there. Abah had apparently put them up earlier and while so doing, hurt his foot. While having lunch he said that the injury he sustained was akin to shedding blood for his own country.

What may seem like a pledge of allegiance and unconditional loyalty to his country, was in fact said with irony and deep cynicism. Yet this did not stop him from sticking two big Jalur Gemilang‘s at our gate.

The fact that he loves his country is indisputable. He served it as a mid-level government officer for more than 3 decades. He had seldom taken a day off from work nor was he one of the tea-break officers who would be at the canteen come 10 o’clock in the morning. He pays his taxes and settles his traffic summonses. Although it was never communicated to me explicitly, my father’s pride was in serving the people. My father’s love for his country is expressed only through his dedication to his job.

This love, however, is not blind love.

Faults in another / that would not matter / in our loved ones / assume / cataclysmic proportions / and if i did not care / i would not dare / chart / your many imperfections

To My Country by Cecil Rajendra

A common fixture of his day includes the tantrum he throws, paper in hand, hurling expletives towards the object of his scorn (often in the form of government policy or political personalities). He often laughs at political speeches made by some of our electorate and constantly ridicules displays of patriotic fervour (songs, poems, sketches etc.) on television. All this without ever proselytizing or sharing with us the finer points of his discontent. He ridicules because he finds them worthy of ridicule, not because of something he heard in conversation at the coffee shop.

When the the Month of Independence officially ends, and he has to take the flags down, I wonder if he’d snub his toe again and what would he say to it then. I also wonder about my own turn to shed blood for my beloved bolehland.



Filed under anecdotal, images