The time was when the wakaf land nearby the dam started to become a settlement. A settlement for Malay families from different parts of the peninsular. There were these two families that ended up being neighbours. Mak Keda’s humble family was a big one, an occasional actress, wife to Salleh Ghani the film director. Yes, Salleh’s name was not as prominent as most of Malayan film directors during the early 60’s but nonetheless, Sri Mersing did made an immediate impact. Who would forget Nordin Ahmad’s line, “Kajang Pak Malau kajang berlipat, kajang hamba mengkuang layu, dagang Pak Malau dagang bertempat, dagang hamba terbuang lalu”? That was then.

In the other hand, Mak Tom’s family was better-off, a seamstress, wife to Ali, a government clerk. The mysticism continues up until today that being a staff in the government ensures better reality in this life when compared to making a career in the insecure art industry. At least that was what the Malays thought. Still think maybe?

A little girl named Ruby was friends with Intan, the daughter of Mak Tom and Mala the daughter of Mak Keda. They were the best of friends. Little girls, enjoying their childhood friendship in the years of innocence. They would walk to the bus stop together to go to school everyday, they would spend time playing at each other’s houses in the evenings and they would occasionally play by the rubber estate nearby, sometimes gathering rubber seeds.

modest versus egotism

One evening they were at Mak Tom’s house. Giggles and laughter were heard as they were playing tailor with Mak Tom’s leftover cloths. “KELUAR KAU DARI SINI!”, Mak Tom suddenly shrieked at Mala. Vague impressions were on the girls’ faces. Mala was grabbed by the arm by Mak Tom and was dragged back to Mak Keda’s house. Mala cried. The commotion became an attraction to the people nearby. Mak Keda was at her door. Calm.

“NAH AMBIK ANAK KAU. PANTANG DATUK NENEK AKU DARAH AKU BERGELUMANG DENGAN ORANG SENI!!!”

Ruby witnessed it all in a frightful awe. Mak Tom had snapped. That day was the erruption of Mak Tom’s long buried rage.

another 20 years or more

Salleh and Ali soon died. One had his family by his side, and one was missing certain people by his deathbed. Azwan, fresh from his SPM examinations started to join the show business. He became too popular by the means, that after a couple of celebrity heartbreaks he became too queer to his existence. “Don’t sleep just yet”. He was Mak Tom’s youngest son.

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