... once upon a time ... a long long time ago ...

Small satchets of happenings from pockets of my life, as lapses of memories rewind to the particular place, moment and time ... realities of life
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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Buat Emping (Making Rice Flakes)

When the padi plants start to bear grain, the entire field will look greenish yellow; as the grains are turning yellow at the start of the ripening process. Acres and acres of them - you can see them as far as your eyes can wander. Before the grains start to ripen, we would sometimes make 'emping' (rice flakes) from the 'almost ripe' padi grains. With a small knife in the palm of our hand, we choose and clip the 'almost ripe' padi grains. Put them all together in a container and take them home for the adventure tonight.

As arranged, there will be a small gathering of the neighbours and close relatives at a house, which is normally part of a large compound. The adventure is to make 'emping'. A 'lesong kayu' (wooden pounder) is necessary to make the 'emping'. The 'almost ripe' padi grain will be heated in a frying pan (without any oil) over a small fire, to ensure that when it is pounded, the husk will be separated from the flakes. From the frying pan the heated padi grain is poured directly into the wooden pounder. Two or three people will pound on the grain (for a minute or two) turning them into rice flakes. This cycle continues until all the 'almost ripe' padi grain is all finished. The pounded lot is then taken out of the pounder into a 'nyiru' (flat container made of rattan - about 2 feet in diameter) and someone will juggle the 'nyiru' into the air, the lighter husk flying-off into the air leaving the heavier 'emping' in the 'nyiru'. This is done to separate the husk from the 'emping'. The 'emping' is then collected and kept in a container.

When all is done, everyone will get together over hot tea while enjoying the 'emping'. The 'emping' is normally served by mixing it with brown sugar and grated coconut, with a pinch of salt. The 'emping' is a little bit rougher and harder to chew; as compared to present modern flakes, like corn flakes. Nevertheless, for people who live in the 'kampong'; frying, pounding and making, and eating, 'emping' together during the evening is an adventure that is never forgotten.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Main Layang-Layang (Kite Flying)

Among all the many games that we play in the 'kampong', kite flying is one of those enjoyable one done together. We need the equipment to fly kites. We buy simple paper kites from the shop in the village. They cost RM0.10 sen each. You also need strings to fly the kite. Either you buy the thread from the shop or you just 'use' the ones that you can find in the sewing machine at home! The thread is rolled onto a milk can. You must first balance your kite, in order for it to fly and stay on course, not diving left or right. We cut old newspapers; cut them into 1 inch width long streaks (2 feet) and attached them to the right and left edge of the kite.

Tying the kite at an angle on the main backbone, we hold the kite up after we have attached the newspaper streaks to each sides. The kite must balance; if not we have to add or deduct the amount of newspaper streaks from either sides. Once it is 'balanced' and attached to the threads (strings), the kite is now ready to be airborne. With friends who have one each; balanced and threaded kite, we go to the 'padi fields' to fly our kites. There are no trees nor bushes to be a hindrance to our kite flying. There are a lot more 'winds' in the open 'padi fields' anyway.

When we get tired running and enjoying ourselves in the 'padi fields' flying our kites, we would normally go to this particular 'island' in the 'padi fields' to rest, drink some water or take a nap. We would spend hours out in the hot sun flying our kites; going back only when it is getting dark.

Monday, June 2, 2008

I Ran Away (the 3rd Time)

After the MCE results were announced, I did applied to further my studies. I applied to ITM, UTM and UPM. I got an interview to do Diploma in Architecture in ITM and I was accepted to be on reserved list for UTM. Never got to enter either of the colleges. The next best alternative; and as I have to help support my other sisters and brother who are still schooling, I had to go to work. I worked in Ministry of Education as a temporary Coding Clerk, in Sri Jaya Bus Company as an Accounts Clerk and lastly achieved my dream of working in the Bank. I spent 1 week working in Banque de L'Indochine et de Suez Indosuez before I took the job in Malayan Banking. My father was a 'Special Branch' still with the Police Force.

Even though I was already working, the years then was the times when drugs menace were first introduced; I was subject to 'spread eagle' whenever I came home from work. At most times, I purposely spent my evenings in the office so as to avoid being 'searched' when I came home. Planning an escape, I requested for a transfer to Sea Park Branch. Got the transfer and left home. My mother, knowing I was leaving home again was visibly very upset on my action. I ran away again! Shared a house with some friends in SS2 (near my office) and lived there a few months before I went to ITM to further my studies - on my own. Even though I had ran away from home, my father was always seen around me (purposely making sure I noticed him), but not meeting me. I would see him walking passed by me as if he just happened to be there!

Shared a room with Najib (passed away), sharing the house together with Ibrahim, Fajariah, Jay and her sister Maliah (passed away) and Hasmah (who married Joe Tore). Lived a bachelor's life without a worry in the world. It was at No. 55 Jalan SS 2/10. This was in 1977. It was while working in Sea Park Branch that I managed to get Malayan Banking's scholarship to further my studies at ITM Shah Alam (I had to go through some problems getting the scholarship). Nevertheless, from the rented house In SS2, I moved to the Hostel in ITM Shah Alam on my own, without my family knowing that I have left work and studying.

I Ran Away (2nd of 3 times)

After the LCE results were announced we were preparing to move to our own house in Taynton View, Cheras. So I have to move school again. Even though we are only moving to the new house in June or July, I was transferred to the new school, Sekolah Jalan Cheras, earlier, so as not to disrupt my schooling. At first, we take the bus to school. I have to changed bus at the Pudu station which is right behind the Pudu Market. After a while, I got enough money and bought a bicycle and started cycling to and from school everyday. It was approximately 12 kilometres one way. A few months later we moved to our own house in Taynton View, Cheras. Our house was No. 52 Jalan Dato Haji Harun, Taynton View. I studied for Form 4 and Form 5 and did my Malaysian Certificate Education (MCE) exam at the school.

Even though after spending 4 years with my parents and my other siblings, I still could not get used to the 'new life'. My craving to go back to my village continues. During school holidays, with RM3.00 in my pocket, I traveled back to Kampong Senaling to spent the holidays. After the MCE exams, I decided to 'run away' again; back to my 'home'. With my little belongings, I left Kuala Lumpur for Kampong Senaling; again! This is also the time my Atuk Usop will be performing his Haj anyway and as such I should be there!

Back to my old ways of doing 'kampong jobs', my life bloomed. This time around I was involved with Abah Rahman to buy liquid latex for MARDEC and besides doing other 'village jobs' I started a small vegetable plot next to the house. I started planting 'ubi kayu' and then 'ketola' and 'kacang buncis'. Little by litte I expanded my plot planting more varieties of vegetables including ground nuts. I would fertilise them with chicken and sheep shit mixed with water. No other fertilisers were used, except those 'natural fertilisers' that I collected from neighbouring folk's houses.

On the day of my Atuk Usop's return from his pilgrimage, I followed the family to Port Klang to receive him. By ship was the only way to go to Makkah then; which takes approximately 30 days one way. Nevertheless, he arrived home safe and sound. As it is nearing schooling days again, I had to go back to my parents house. As if it was perfect timing, the MCE results were announced the next day. I got a Grade II with 33 aggregate. A lot of other classmates got Grade IV (even though you scored in other subjects), as it was the first time the subject 'Bahasa Malaysia' became a compulsory subject in order to pass MCE exam and for calculation of aggregates.

Even though I disliked the idea, I was back staying at home again in Taynton View, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.

I Ran Away (1st of 3 times)

Right after Form 1 at TMS Kuala Pilah, in January 1969, I was moved to my parents house in the Police Quarters in Jalam Aman (the quarters still stand until today). Our house address was 3945-8, Barrack Polis Jalan Aman. I was enrolled at nearest school, Ampang Road Boys School, which is approximately 1 km from the house. We walk to school everyday with RM0.10 sen in the pocket. I enrolled in Form 2 and also finished Form 3 at the school. Took my Lower Certificate of Education (LCE) examination there. A teenager going through a new ways, with new environment - an entirely new life to live. Getting used to living with my parents for the first time was tough, real tough. And I could not get used to it!

After the LCE exam I decided to go back to Kampong Senaling to spent my year end holidays there. My mother was not agreeable to the arrangements, however as I was adamant on going back to my roots, she relented. I was 'running away' from the new unused life. Got RM3.00 for bus fares, caught the 'bas loncat' and headed for 'home'!

I went back to my old 'kampong jobs' - bud grafting rubber trees, collecting scrapped rubber, clearing rubber plantation, serving the padi fields, and done other tasks when required. Not much money earned, but I managed by fine. Most of the time, I was helping Abah Rahman preparing other rubber small holders plantation for replanting, bud grafting rubber trees and doing other 'kampong jobs' whenever it comes or when my skills are required; which are mostly manual labour with some special required skills, especially bud grafting. I was having a wonderful life and have forgotten about the Kuala Lumpur glittering life.

One day, came my father and my grandfather visiting. The kind that says - you have to come home now! Being an obedient child, I packed my bags and followed my father home back to Kuala Lumpur. Talked about perfect timing, the LCE results were announced the very next day after I arrived. I got Grade A with 22 aggregates. Not superb, but good enough to walk tall and got promoted to Form 4. Those who failed LCE then do not have the chance to continue into Form 4 unless you repeat From 3 again.