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.