... 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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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pergi Kuala Lipis (Kuala Lipis Trip)

With the money Atuk Usop won from the Lottery, he wanted to visit his relative in Kuala Lipis. The trip from Senaling to Kuala Lipis is expected to take 1 whole day. Atuk Usop hired Pakcik Abok's taxi for 3 days and off we went. The other car is Ulong Leman's white Volkwagen - BH120. The whole family cramped into these 2 cars and we left one very early in the morning. Ina (the eldest of Abah Rahman's) was the 'selalu mabok' one and at every few miles, we have to stop for her to puke by the road side. The plan was to spent the whole of the 2nd day in Kuala Lipis and return home to Senaling on the 3rd day.

We detoured to Fraser's Hill on the way up. We had lunch on the way. The temperature at Fraser's Hill was still cool then. We even drink water from the cool spring water coming out of the hills. It was a long trip; the road from Bentong to Kuala Lipis was still not tarred yet. We had to go along this muddy brown road. Nevertheless, we reach Kuala Lipis late that evening. The house was behind the Kuala Lipis mosque, next to the Pahang River. There were a lot of floating houses; tied to the banks of the river. It was the first time I saw these houses. I do not know if these houses still exists now. We, young boys went swimming by the river's edge and spent the whole of the next day in Kuala Lipis.

We left for home the third day, of which the trip takes us another whole day. Chugging along the muddy Kuala Lipis-Bentong road, we made it home that late evening. Atuk Usop was very happy with the trip; since he had not seen his relative (I do not know how was he related); for a very long time. That was the longest trip I had ever made in a car for many years!

Penyanyi Pujaan Minggu Ini (Weekly Top Songs)

In the 1960s during the height of the 'Pop Yeah Yeah' era, we have always followed the top songs on the radio. We have this small radio at home and the Weekly top songs are aired at noon every Sunday. By 12:00 noon, we will all gather around the radio to hear what will be the top song of the week. It was during the A Rahman Hassan, Jefridin, A Ramli, SM Salim, Siglap Five, Rythm Boys, Afida S, Fatimah M Amin, Rafeah Buang, Ahmad Jais, Ahmad Daud and the rest of the 'Pop Yeah Yeah' singers' era. Most of these singers were from Singapore. Most of them have since migrated to Malaysia and lived here.

While listening to the program, we will predict of who would be top this week. Each one had their own favourite. However, as the program progress along to the top, we would know by then which singer and song would be top that week. Around the small radio, live was enchanting and the excitement was awesome. Sometimes, we have tea or coffee with tapioca with sugar coconut or other 'kueh' to accompany us along the program; which is for one hour.

Now those songs are oldies. Nevertheless, you still hear them on the radio, especially on 'Klassik Nasional'. You may now download the old 'Pop Yeah Yeah' songs on the 'file sharing' program.

Atok Usop Kena Loteri (Granpa Usop Strike Lottery)

In order to raise money to fund the expenses for maintaining community services in the country, the Government Department responsible for the community used to organise monthly nationwide Lottery draws. The lottery tickets were sold at RM1.00 each and the 1st prize was RM300,000.00 then; drawn monthly. My grandfather used to buy those lottery tickets, hoping to strike it and be an instant rich man. At that time, his pension was RM87.78 per month. He normally spent RM10.00 per month for lottery. The results are published in the newspapers the day after the draw.

One afternoon, he requested me to go to the shop to purchase newspapers as the lottery draw was yesterday. He wants to check if he would be lucky this time around. Took the money and off I went. On the way to the shop, I prayed that he would strike this time, since he had tried so many times before. Since I did not know any praying words then, while walking to the shop, I replicate the daily praying ways from 'takbiratulihram' until 'salaam', chanting in my heart all the 'ayats' and the complete praying procedure including the 'rukuk' and the 'sujuds'. By the time I reached the new stand, I have completed the whole praying procedure for 4 'rakaats'.

What did you know, he strike RM10,000.00! He took it calmly and only smiled. I did not know whether my replicating the praying helped him win the lottery or not. I have never told a soul about it; until now! Winnings can be picked up from any Bank in town. We went to UMBC, Kuala Pilah with a small bag to stash the money and a small 'parang' in the bag; in case of any trouble. However, we were only allowed RM1,000.00 to claim first and the rest have to be claimed when the winning Lottery ticket have been claimed from the Lottery organiser.

It was with that winning money; we went to visit his long lost relative to Kuala Lipis (that's another story) and he also bought the small rubber plantation in Bemban for RM3,750.00 from Haji Habib's father. The rubber plantation where I learned to replant, bud graft, tap and earn money from. The rubber plantation was given to my Kak Ngah Zainab and it is still there!

Ulong Bakar (Buta)

There is this blind man, we called him Ulong Bakar Buto (I never knew his real name), who lives with Pak Teh Amin across the house where I lived. He is blind, but independent, cooks himself, bathe (from the deep well) and pray on his own; even going to the shop; which is about 500 metres away - on his own; using his cane for guide. Everybody knows him and I often visit him!

He was trained by the Welfare Department to make rattan products. He was good with it. The rattan materials were supplied by the Welfare Department and all finished goods done by him are also bought back by the Welfare Department for sale. Mostly he makes 'pungkis' and other small rattan products (which is now very very expensive). Every time whenever there is a delivery of his rattan materials, we will all pitch in to help carry the goods into his house and stock it up and arranged for him so that he knows where to get it from. We will also be available to help him carry all the finished goods from his house to the truck that comes to collect them. With that trade, he earned a decent living independently.

Someone arranged for his marriage one day; to a divorcee in Ulu Senaling. It was a simple ceremony, but a joyous one for him; as someone is now at hand to assist him. They never bear any children, but they lived a good and comfortable life. They lived happily ever after until his death; at a young age, a few years later.

Kena Demam Malaria (I got Malaria)

We normally sleep with mosquito net protecting us from the notorious mosquito. Sometimes, as lazy as can be, I do not use the mosquito nets. This must be the time when the malaria infested mosquito bitten me and I got malaria. You feel cold and then hot and you sweat all over. Even with thick blankets, you cannot contain the cold feeling. I got admitted to the Kuala Pilah General Hospital. I was in Standard 6.

I was admitted for 6 days. At that time, I hated medicine, especially the tablets. But being in hospital, I am forced to take them. I remembered asking the nurse to leave the tablets behind with the water to consume it with. After the nurse is gone, I remembered asking the man who was in the next bed to help me consume the tablets. I would lie down on the bed with my mouth opened. He would then placed the tablet in my mouth and then pour water into my mouth to help consume the table. One by one I ate them all. I still carry that phobia of not liking tablets until my teenage years; where we will all learn that it is easy and okay to eat tablet medicine.

Lying in hospital and missing school was a guilt that I could not stand. I have never missed a day of school, but this time I have to miss a week of school. It was scary going back to school; as I would have expected the teacher to scold me for not turning up in school; even thought I had malaria. I didn't know then that being absent from school as I was admitted to hospital; was okay. I got cured and when back to school. I was asked by the teacher (Mr Chen Chee Ting) to tell the class of my experience of being infected with malaria and being admitted to hospital for 6 days.

Tanam Sayur (Vegetable Planting)

After MCE, while waiting for the results, I was buying latex from the smallholders at the 'Rancangan Tanah Pinggir' in Ulu Senaling with Abah Rahman. It is normally done by the afternoon. As soon as lunch is taken, I embark on vegetable planting at the area by the side of the house. Using basic tools and bare hands, I prepared the planting beds for my vegetables. I started with the easiest of them all - tapioca!

Happily seeing it grown and after we started eating the young leaves and harvesting the tapioca, I embark on planting more vegetables. Prepared the planting beds and sowed beans, 'petola', groundnuts, sugar cane, peria and all other vegetables; seeds of which I could buy from the market in Kuala Pilah. As the days passed, there were rows and rows of planting beds planted with vegetables. For the creepy crawlies, I used small branches and twigs for the plant to grow up and climb on.

For manure, we used natural manure made of lamb shit, goat shit and chicken poo. Mixed it all up with water in a big pail, stir them thoroughly and pour them over the seedlings or the plants for their food and chemical supplies. I would visit the neighbour's lamb and sheep barns and chicken houses to collect the shit and the poo. Every morning, the vegetables have to be watered and occasionally manured. They grow and produces much for us to consume. At times when there are extras, we would send and 'sadaqah' them to our neighbours or for occasional people who comes to house.

At one time, one of our relative who was a Lecturer with UPM; came to the house. He commended me for my effort in planting and taking good care of the vegetables; which was economically good for the family. I still hold that interest until now!

Alang Udin and his Saddleking Jeans

Long before Lee, LEVIS and the rest of the designer pants came to Malaysia, I only knew this 'expensive' pants called Saddleking. Alang Udin (Shaharuddin) was in Form 5 (1967) at that time and like all other youngsters now, he craved and wishes to wear this 'Saddleking Jeans'. He took up the job of clearing people's rubber plantation from bushes and other unwanted growings in the plantation. If I can remember, he got paid like RM5.00 for a day's job. Meanwhile, he talks about buying this 'Saddleking Jeans' all the time.

We he have enough money, he ordered by mail, the small patterned LEE scarf. Saw him used it all the time and when not using he would slip it behind his pants, ensuring that it protrudes out so that others may see his LEE scarf. It costs him RM5.00 for it, then. As soon as he did more clearing jobs and as soon as he have enough money, he ordered his 'Saddleking Jeans'. As proud as he can be, when it arrived, he wore his priced possession almost everyday. This tight, hugging 'Saddleking Jeans' was something that awed everyone looking at it.

That was the only designer jeans; tight, hugging Saddleking; that I know of then. Of course, thereafter came LEVIS, AMCO, LEE, VERSACHE, DIOR and everything else.