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It was about 15 years ago since I last flew a kite. In between, I had never even thought about flying one again. Well, there was a small urge when I was reading The Kite Runner, but it was nothing serious. I remember as a small boy, running my heart out across the school field just to lift the kite into the sky. It was a strenuous task since Kuala Lumpur was not known for its breeze.

I was at Malacca attending a wedding with a few friends recently. It was a hot and sunny Sunday afternoon. At around 3pm we decided depart from the wedding and go someplace else and I suggested Klebang beach. In my mind I was thinking of having the infamous pisang goreng cicah (banana fritters with a selection of three dips; sambal kicap, sambal merah and gula perang) and a bowl of cendol while experiencing the sea view.

When we arrived at the beach, there was a kite stall, selling all sorts of kites. From your typical trapezium shaped kite, to polystyrene airplane kite and even a Doraemon shaped kite. But initially we just stood there, looking at each other. Slowly, we took steps towards the stall and eventually, we bought three.

The wind was wild and perfect. We started flying and trading kite stories from when we were small. All of a sudden we were those kampung boys all over again, laughing and having innocent fun. The mood was just so emotional that one thing missing was background music. And I would surely recommend Ennio Morricone’s score from Cinema Paradiso. Then surely tears would drop. (Yes, this entry is about reminiscing childhood memories, just like most people nowadays.)

We were knocked back to our senses at the sound of azan, a signal that it’s time for Maghrib.

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[3.06 am]

He waited on the couch, unshaved, waiting for something to come. Be it a phone call, a text message or even a knock on the door. Cluttered his apartment was after months of in-house desertion. He refused to work, eat or even move. But he talked. Maybe to himself. Maybe to something else but I can assure you that the only person there, was just him. Clearly can be seen were a pair of dark bags under his soggy eyes.

Then came a ghost, a beautiful ghost that the man seemed to know. Maybe the ghost was the man’s talking companion in the days before. He started mumbling. Then there were screams. The man closed his ears and cried. Wind started blowing wildly with occasional thunders on the outside. The ghost seemed upset by the man’s behaviour. There was a scene of intimacy between the two, and a long pause. Long enough to dry the tears from the man’s eyes.

“From the ruin, pick up the bricks and stones and build a shrine. Not the same shrine that we used to build together, but a new one. For my empathy is upon you my love”, the ghost broke the silence.

Then it vanished, never to return again.

A loose depiction of Leon Foo’s play.

katakan padaku
sejak puisi mengalir
sejak langit meratap
mengapa air mataku
terasa baru bagai embun terasa baru?

burung rembang membuka sayap
daun-daun menjadi lebih redup
aku lewat lagi berdayung di depanmu
kau siap lagi berdiri di tebing

semua pepohon menjadi sepohon di sampingmu
semua detik menjadi sedetik di matamu
sungai ini pun terasa betapa gemuruh
menyambut semarak api di bahumu

katakan padaku
sejak malam menjelma
sejak maut menyentuh
mengapa sepi jiwamu
terasa baru bagai pedihku terasa baru?

-Latiff Mohidin

Snapped yesterday.

Grandmother always took me to the Toh Puan’s house when I was little. Every time she asked me to follow her, I would jump on my two feet with joy. Sometimes I went there with just my grandmother and sometimes my mother tagged along. The house was an old fashioned bungalow; situated at the end of Jalan Tun Ismail (grandmother still calls it Maxwell Road). It has a small garden in front and a weird looking swimming pool in the backyard. A pleasant old lady whom people called Toh Puan lived inside. But the best thing on my mind back then was being in a large room inside the bungalow, filled with the latest brands of toys from all around the world. It was just too exhilarating, thanks to the hospitality of the Toh Puan’s grandchildren.

It took me a while before I finally asked my grandmother, “Who is Toh Puan?” I know she’s her friend but who was she, really? The answer I got from grandmother was plain simple, “The Toh Puan and I used to play badminton together when we were young.” But the oil portraits, pictures and the decorations on the walls and mantelpieces of the bungalow dissatisfied me with the answer I got. I grumbled for more. Alas, grandmother surrendered to my tantrum thus replied, “Toh Puan Neno was the wife of Tun Dr Ismail, the second Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia. He died in his position (acting Prime Minister actually) long before you were born. A good man”.

It was around 88 or 89 at that time. I tried to picture the face of the then deputy prime minister. Was it the man with the mole on his upper right cheek or the chubby guy? Ah, Musa Hitam resigned and he was replaced by Ghafar Baba. The people were still in transition. I was still in transition.

How come people never talked about Tun Dr Ismail?” I asked my grandmother. “Maybe someone currently in power digressed to the point of vengeance with the Tun when he was alive. What not to do but to wipe off the Tun from the pages of history after he died?” said grandmother calmly.
Can they do that?
In these times, nothing is impossible

I can’t help but to picture old man Mahathir’s face. Back then he was THE prime minister, the leader, a hero and all that is good. Nobody dared to question his actions, except the opposition. It was then, maybe still, maybe forever for every Tom, Dick and Harry in power.

I was reading The Reluctant Politician recently. I stumbled across an excerpt from a 1973 edition of the Malay Mail. It said that (more or less), “… after Tun Dr Ismail’s death, his deeds and sacrifices for this country will be remembered by generations to come. His contributions to this country’s achievement will be placed in history and text books for the readings of our children”. Ooi was right, too bad it didn’t happen.

A few months ago, I asked grandmother about whatever happened to the Toh Puan. She replied, “She’s fine. Old people tend to socialize, but we are beyond old.

Remember when we use to have a drink?
The candle light upon the table sings
Then we took a drive along the winding streets
And your brown eyes told me everything I need

But I won’t understand

A guy walked into a Malay pirated dvd store to purchase a copy of The Departed. This guy went to the cinema to watch The Departed a few months ago but left after 10 minutes of screening, thanks to the local censorship board.

Anyway, the storekeeper was a kid who was having his lunch of nasi and sambal sotong behind the counter. So the guy went to the dvd catalogs in front of the kid and began browsing. He asked the kid if The Departed was available, the kid replied yes.

He continued browsing until suddenly, the kid snapped his left hand on a page of the catalog. The guy was stunned. Right hand covered with sambal, the kid showed the thumb sign.

The Cutter, Chuck Norris with Bond pose, equipped with a Walther PPK, surrounded by sexy women on the cover. The kid, still with sambal covering his right hand said, “Cerita ni best bang

The guy walked out of the store with The Departed, and only The Departed.

Entry title by Mr Norris himself, one of his twelve personal codes.

Broadly embraced as one of the finest poets and painters in South East Asia, he recently said, “I felt everyone has the freedom to create their own poetry… what is important is the poem, not the theory.

Do visit the Voyage – Kembara exhibition for what time it has left. The colours are a lot more than just mind blowing. “It is best to read me – whether poetry or art – than attempt to understand me”, said Latiff Mohidin. Now I know what Pak Usop (a close friend of Latiff) meant by every artist have their own unique colours.

But then, it’s just my own way of perceiving the whole thing.