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It was at night and apparently I was walking down the road for some reason which I barely knew. I couldn’t remember the characteristics of the surroundings well. I couldn’t remember whether if it’s cold or not, or whether if there’re people around. All I could remember was that it was dark and the road was straight, leading towards total blackness. Then from far ahead, bright headlights from a vehicle gradually glared my eyes, approaching towards me. An expensive SUV pulled over on my left hand side, its window screen slowly lowered, revealing a familiar face, a face that should have surprised me. However, it was like I expected it to be her. Yes, her. A person that I hadn’t thought about for a long time.

She invited me in. I asked no questions, placed myself comfortably in the front passenger seat, fastened my seatbelt and she started driving.

Our journey was accompanied by a very pleasant conversation. It was not like a catching up chat, but more like a normal day-to-day, pleasurable conversation, the kind that people do, enjoying quality time together. I made jokes and she laughed, she teased me and I threw a fake sulk, in which she returned with comforting affectionate words. We were happy, like we once felt, or at least like I once felt.

It was like nothing perilous ever happened to us.

*****

I woke up aggressively from my sleep. It was still dark. I didn’t know what time it was. My heart was beating fast. There were drops of sweat on both sides of my temples. I was angry, very, very angry. I threw away the pillows to the floor. I hurled my thick blanket to the dressing table. Bottles of cologne, deodorant and hair cream clattered. I hit the alarm clock on my bedside table with my right arm and it hurled directly towards the wall. Before it was broken to pieces, it told me that it was 5:45AM.

“Why did you come? Damn it, I’ve moved on! I knew I let go long ago. I’ve stopped thinking about you for a year now. And yet you came back! Why?! Damn it, you’re already married now! Why are you in my dream? Why?! Why are you tormenting me? Why now?!”

*****

After Subuh, I went to get the broom. I’ve to clean up the mess I’ve made in my room before I go to work.

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I won’t shiver in the cold
I won’t let the shadows take their toll
I won’t cover my head in the dark
And I won’t forget you when we part

Collapse the light into earth

I won’t heal given time
I won’t try to change your mind
I won’t feel better in the cold light of day
But I wouldn’t stop you if you wanted to stay

Balch, Colin Edwin; Barbieri, Richard; Wilson, Steven

I was feeling a bit of regret the whole way from Ulu Klang to Kuala Kubu Baru that day. What was I doing? It was 6:45 am, early Saturday morning. I was still tired. I haven’t had enough sleep. My eyes were still red and moist. How I wish I could just lay on my bed, pulling up the army issue blanket and go back to sleep till noon.

Yet, a group of overweighed, male friends who called themselves, “Bangers” were already at the front gate of my house. I yawned again, this time with a drop of tear running down my right cheek.

*****

At the end of the briefing on the river bank, the chief guide asked for 2 volunteers from my group to join another group. The other group consisted of two pale looking, skinny guys and a hot, beautiful girl. From my observation I suspected that the hot, beautiful girl was from a mix parentage. I was in the middle of my judgmental analysis when I saw Anu, acting like the last bravado guy on earth, walked proudly with his chest opened, towards the group. “Oh no, you’re not the only one!” I said to myself. I threw myself to that other group before any other overweighed Bangers could do so. I could notice sneers from some of the Bangers.

*****

On the rubber dinghy, while we were paddling slowly down the river, I asked Farhanah more about herself. She said that she’s from Taman Tun and the first pale looking, skinny guy on her left was her childhood friend. Then she explained that the second pale looking, skinny guy behind her was her boyfriend. I looked over to my right and gave an insincere half smile to the second pale looking, skinny guy. The guy smiled back proudly, with one of his eyebrow arched higher than the other. Anu, who was sitting at the front most of the dinghy and was eavesdropping all this while, gave a loud and extremely short chuckle, exactly like what Matt Dillon’s character did when he heard Cameron Diaz’s character said, “To hell with Bret. I’ve got a vibrator” in There’s Something About Mary.

Suddenly, the orang asal guide at the back of the dinghy shouted, “Over right!”, signaling that we were already entering a rapid and all of us needed to be on the right side of the dinghy to avoid capsizing. There was chaos on board. Anu was wobbling his knees, jumping. The first pale looking, skinny guy’s Nike sandals were thrown out while he was maneuvering his body. I was bouncing my ass, leaping to my right after finding a comfortable landing target. I didn’t care what the second pale looking, skinny guy was doing. There were huge splashes of water as the dinghy went through the vicious rapid.

After a short few seconds, everything was back to normal. The orang asal guide shouted, “Normal position!”. Nevertheless, I was still in my comfortable position on the right side of the dinghy. Then there was a tap on my left shoulder. The second pale looking, skinny guy behind me was no longer pale. His face was turning light red. But, like a true gentleman, he told me subtly to get off his girlfriend. I realized that I was spooning Farhanah and my left hand was perfectly situated on her exposed upper left thigh. It was my turn to blush.

The rest of the rapid rides were awkward but I could still salvage some fun from it.

Apparently, the whole Bangers crew saw the incident. Added by Anu’s exaggerated commentary on the event, I endured sarcastic sneering the whole way back from Kuala Kubu Baru to Ulu Klang.

There were times when I wished seventeen years ago, I submitted the form that my father had gave me. Yes, I did fill up that particular form but at the same time, I also filled up another form given to me by the Ministry of Education. I submitted the latter. When being asked by my father, I replied that “a person should only devour what they deserve”. Albeit the confidence of a young boy that can be seen quite clearly, deep down inside I was trembling, wondering if I had made the right decision. The devil was pouring doubt on me. Well, actually the devil has nothing to do with it. It was because of the repeated fascinating stories told by my father of his experience as a young boy in Kuala Kangsar to me since as early as when I was starting to develop my cognitive skills.

Obviously I stood by my decision, based on principles. I didn’t start the family tradition. Therefore I went south to Seremban. Two years later, my brother started the family tradition that I had abandoned, and then my other brother followed suit, then my youngest brother. I was evidently, a voluntary outcast.

*****

Should I have had submitted the form given to me by my father, seventeen years ago, I’m pretty sure that I’m a wealthier person with all the strings that I could pull, the buttons that I could push. I’m sure I’d be working for an alumni related company with a pompous position, custom made for me. Or even maybe owning a company together with some alumni members. I’m pretty sure I could be owning a house in the most pleasant area of the city. Of course I could be owning a fancy car, or maybe two. I could also be wearing that stupid bow-tie during some stupid dinner functions. Ultimately, I could’ve long ago be married to a TKC alumni, trophy wife who sits pretty all day.

Yet, I stood by my decision, based on principles.

Jim called his five year old nephew, Sin Chan. Yes, just like that silly, perverted Japanese cartoon character. The reason was simply (and unfortunately) because of their hilarious physical likeness. Sin Chan was the only child of Jim’s eldest sister. He’s also the only grandchild of Jim’s parents. Sin Chan spent most of his time, since his early years with his retired grandparents; by far, a healthier substitute of a children day care centre.

Now, since Jim was still a thirty year old virgin living in his parents’ basement, he and his sole nephew was quite close, really close actually. Jim would regularly buy toys (read: cheap, modern uninteresting toys) for Sin Chan for no reasons, played PlayStation 2 together in the weekends in Jim’s basement room or even taking Sin Chan out for ice creams. They spent a huge amount of time together. He really loved that kid. At the same time, Jim was extremely strict with Sin Chan when it comes to discipline. It eventually developed a kind of fearful respect within Sin Chan towards his uncle.

Meanwhile, in a far, almost hidden corner of Jim’s basement room, stood a fake, wooden antique cabinet filled with Jim’s toys from his childhood years. In a way, it’s more like a display of 80’s toy memorabilia collection. From Star Wars’ X-Wing & the Millennium Falcon, to MASK’s Raven, Condor, Jackhammer & Piranha, to Transformers’ diecast Optimus Prime, Ultra Magnus & Soundwave to Starcom’s Starmax Bomber & Shadow Bat Battle Cruiser and so much more (I felt like a fucking geek loser by saying/typing all those ridiculous names). So, like a usual nerd with no girlfriends, Jim was over-protective over his toy collections. The fake, wooden antique cabinet area was a restricted area even for Jim’s parents, what more his five year old nephew that looked like a silly, perverted Japanese cartoon character.

Naturally, every time Sin Chan was in his uncle’s room, he had his eyes on the contents of the fake, wooden antique cabinet in Jim’s basement room. Obviously, he was too scared to even look directly at the cabinet in the presence of Jim. To ask politely for permission to play with the classic toys? No chance in hell! Sin Chan kept the lusty desire to himself.

One fine weekend, Jim was playing Playstation 2 with Sin Chan in his basement room. After a couple of hours in front of the TV, five year old Sin Chan looked up directly at his uncle and innocently said, “Uncle Jim, if you die, can I have your room?”

One night, I slowly parked my car inside the porch after a long day at work. I had trouble closing the automatic gate with the remote control. Automatic gates sucks, but somehow I managed to stay calm and close it up. I got out from the car and switched on the porch lights. I didn’t use the front door to get inside simply because I don’t have the front keys. I never had the front keys. So I walked around to get to the rear entrance. That particular night was particularly darker than usual.

*****

It has been several nights that I’ve been hearing footsteps on the roof on top of my bedroom. And for several nights now, I hadn’t been able to sleep soundly at night. The footstep noises sounded like a small creature tap dancing above my bedroom. I’m pretty sure it was not a cat since the only cat around was Crooked-Tail who was too old and lazy to be climbing, and dancing on the roof. It couldn’t be the squirrels since they are light footed.

*****

As I was walking apathetically beside the outer walls of my bedroom, I saw a tail hanging down from the TNB pole just fifteen feet away from my bedroom. The cables from the concrete pole connected directly to the vertex area of my bedroom’s outer wall. Yes, there’s a functional TNB pole inside the compound of my house and yet I’ve never seen any compensation cheques from that power service provider company. Anyway, the tail was swinging slowly, oscillating like a broken pendulum of an old clock. The tail was slightly fluffier than a monkey’s tail.

I soon realized that that creature was the one making the rackets at night. It was a fucking musang! I could feel that the musang was staring at me, enjoying the moment of triumph. It was enjoying itself to the fact that it had annoyed me for quite a while now.

I paused. Slowly got down and picked up a rock the size of a bar of soap. I waited patiently. I concentrated at my target and then threw the rock towards the flamboyant musang. The rock hit directly at the tip of the concrete TNB pole with a loud “Pang!”. The musang jumped and screeched angrily. It fell from the pole but managed to catch a branch of a rambutan tree nearby. It then ran away into the darkness of the night. For me, I felt really awesome.

That night, no more tap dancing above me.

*****

The next morning, after a good night sleep, I was prepared to go to work. The feeling of awesomeness from last night was still there. Unfortunately that feeling was cut short. The joke was on me that morning. I was shocked to the bones when I arrived at my car. There were animal scats all over the hood of my car. Taik musang!

And the joke didn’t stop there. Although there’re no more noises in the night, for the next seven days, I started my day by clearing scats from the hood of my car. Taik musang doh! The musang shat on my car, without fail for seven days!

Eventually I had enough. On the night of the seventh day of scat, I went to the TNB pole. Although there was no sign of the musang, I said, “I’m sorry for throwing the rock at you. I truly am. Please don’t shit on my car anymore. I beg you please”.






From then on, the shitting stopped.

Kuala Lumpur. In Kampung Baru, since its early establishment in 1899, if there are several houses in a piece of land, chances are, the residents are all related. It’s the same for any other kampungs in the Malay peninsular. Well for Kampung Baru, at least until the mid 1990s during the economic boom just before the disastrous slump. That was when Indonesian immigrants took over Kampung Baru since the local young no longer interested in living in a “kampung”. If you don’t believe me, try visiting Kampung Baru on the first day of Eid and tell me what you see.

Back in 1973, Ruby was in form 1 at Convent Bukit Nanas. With her younger sister Ana, they lived together with their grandmother, Nenek Yot in Jalan Hamzah along with one of their cousin, Minah Becok. Ruby and Ana’s parents were away, working in Sabah. Their other cousins also lived along Jalan Hamzah; Yam with her mother Cik Am and Maznah with her mother Cik Pah.

That particular year, it was kind of peculiar that these cousins rushed home from school every afternoon. They went to different schools but would rendezvous at their uncle’s house just before 2 o’clock in the afternoon. It so happened that their uncle, Ismail Gedabot had opened a small food stall at his house at the intersection of Jalan Hamzah and Jalan Datuk Abdul Malik. At approximately 2 o’clock in the afternoon every day, students from the nearby Yayasan Anda would come to Ismail Gedabot’s stall to have lunch. Cik Am and Cik Pah contributed foods to the stall. Not to forget Nenek Yot with her infamous pulut panggang. The cousins were busy acting busy at their uncle’s stall.

Now, Yayasan Anda was a private institution initiated by a group of university students back in 1971. It was targeted to help out local school drop-outs or students that failed their MCEs to have second chances. Most of the students in Yayasan Anda eventually got into local universities and some even overseas. Thanks to their own hard work and the efforts from the Yayasan’s academic staffs.

The moment that the girls were waiting for was when Anwar Ibrahim stopped by the stall to have lunch. They would giggle among themselves, admiring Anwar’s charismatic and handsome appearance. They would even fight each other to serve food for Anwar. Eventually, they had an agreement to take turns every time Anwar stopped by. Well, for your information Anwar Ibrahim was the mastermind behind the establishment of Yayasan Anda.

These moments were cut short for the cousins. In 1974, Anwar was held under the Internal Security Act after involving in a student protest, supporting the Baling peasant hunger strike movement. Funny how the authority categorized the efforts to voice out against rural poverty and hunger as a threat to national security.

Anyway, 2 years later, Anwar was freed from detention but the cousins had moved on with their lives.

John Lithgow. Once, the alien leader, Lord Whorfin took over his insane mind and brought evil to this world. Buckaroo Banzai had to battle him in order to save the earth. That was back in 1984. Even Sly had to go through a perilous rescue mission initiated by Lithgow in Cliffhanger. And who would ever forget the obnoxious High Commander Dick Solomon in 3rd Rock From The Sun? It was all John. John, John, John!

Well, that was the actor. Now, there was a colleague of mine with the same chin as John Lithgow. You know what I mean. A kind of a flat face with an obvious protruding chin. I know you know what I mean.

Anyway, unlike the characters played by Lithgow the actor, this guy was a nice person. I don’t know whether he being nice had anything to do with him being new in the office. Everyone seemed to like hanging out with this guy. There were times when he even helped out others in their tasks, although it has nothing to do with him. Come lunch break, people waited for him to have lunch together. And don’t mention about ciggie breaks, he’s always there in the back staircase with different people at different times. The best part was, he talked shit about our boss just as good as us!

In my head, brain-washed by Hollywood’s mind control conspiracy theories, John Lithgow is evil. The same goes to everybody with the same chin!

I fucking hate that guy.