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“Is there still a scar on your ankle?” That was the first sentence that came out from Yazid’s mouth last night. My class teacher 9 years ago.

Before last night, I never even considered on going to the dinner. My mind was preoccupied on being on my own for the weekends. I wanted to be alone. I thought I needed to be alone. To me, the dinner’s just another socializing event where old guys talk about fart jokes, you know, an occasion that you know there’ll be another.

But eventually I was there, chatting and reminiscing with the teachers, or what’s left of them. Socializing with the seniors and juniors. Memories started to load rapidly into my mind. My heart softened.

On an interview later that night, spontaneously I told the camera, “… my fellow Sdarians young and old, respect and treasure our teachers because their knowledge and guidance may lead us on becoming better men in the future” Most kids didn’t realize that, including myself when I was a teenager. I guess that’s the norm of it. Well, better late than never.

Thank you Sirs, thank you Madams. Thank you Moronion for making me feel guilty for thinking about not going to the dinner. Golden Jubilee maa…

I ended up sleeping at 6am just to finish reading the teacher’s Coretan Rasa, Nukilan Hati.

*****

“The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth.” -Dan Rather

Dedaun yang mengering di dahan
Menunggu masa terlerai, melayang
Berpisah dari kawan rimbunan
Melayang ditiup serakah sang angin

Back then it was known as Jin Lek Road. There were a few proper houses, small bungalows. Most of them haunted. The rest were squatters’ settlement. Chinese squatters’ settlement, circling the abandoned lake mine.

*****

Gun fires were everywhere. Nina crawled on the floor, inside an armoured car to protect her sister, Ana. They were crying. Their mother froze in disbelieve. The armoured car was slowly moving along Ipoh Road, heavily guarded by the army towards Kampung Baru. From Jin Lek Road to Kampung Baru was not that far but the rioters have barricaded most entrance to Kampung Baru. Final option was to follow Ipoh Road. Gun fires continued. Houses and shops were burned to the ground. The father was nowhere to be seen.

*****

Back at Jin Lek Road, Ismail and his troop were fighting their way to Amran’s house. Amran was away in Australia at that moment, an assignment for the Royal Malaysian Police. His family was trapped in their own house, surrounded. Ismail’s mission was to save Amran’s family and secure them to a safer place. He succeeded. He and Amran later became closely acquainted. At one point before his retirement, Amran was the police chief of Kuala Lumpur.

*****

Razak announced the New Economic Policy. Immediately, the squatter’s settlement at Jin Lek Road was brought to the ground. The settlers were placed in flats in Setapak. Jin Lek Road was renamed to Persiaran Titiwangsa. The abandoned lake mine was turned into a recreational park we now know as Taman Tasik Titiwangsa.

*****

The question is; why were (still are?) most of the small bungalows in Jin Lek Road haunted? Well, it seemed that the bungalows were actually accommodations for the Japanese military officers during the Japanese occupation. After the Japanese army surrendered, many officers and their family members committed suicide in those bungalows. There’s no better place to kill yourself compared to your own backyard right?

Thus, a short figure (maybe because of the Japanese origin), long hair and white dress, standing at the foot of your bed, watching you sleep, sometimes leaving bruises and bite marks on your feet.

Uuu.

In the world of Alejandro Agresti, everything is symmetrical and perfect. I have never seen windows and bricks coexist in the same way before. In a clear blue sky I would weep. Alas, fiction as it is, real life bears contentment with all its impurities and sins.

Again comes the season where my mother would tell me stories about the past. The kind of materials that influenced Rashid Sibir in his works. Yes akak-akak and makcik-makcik, cry your hearts out. After all it’s Raya and Astro Ria is the channel to watch. Kan?

I never knew that my mother’s family loved Azwan Ali so much when he was a small boy. I can remember however the young and masculine Azwan asking me what I wanted to be when I grow up. I remember him giving me RM10 for duit raya. That was 20 years ago. Way back before his glam era, before the times of sexual confusion that somehow is eating up many of the people I know. Well, after all, it’s just another *sappy* Raya story.

At the end, forgiveness empowers the heart. At least that’s what I believe.

It always starts with a hello
And ends with a sigh
In between was a beautiful song
An utterance of blamelessness