Monday, December 26, 2005

In PD - Christmas Eve

Since Sita and Najla were with us for the long weekend and Fahrul had to go back to Kerteh alone as he has to work during the Christmas holidays, Ram and I decided to alter our plans a little. We have a series of weddings to attend in and around KL as well as in JB and had planned to attend the one in KL on the 25th after which drive to JB and attend the wedding of my cousin on the 26th afternoon and of another relative on the 27th evening. We changed the plan and went to Port Dickson on Saturday 24th. and spent Christmas eve in our condo apartment in PD. Today, Sunday, we returned to KL and attended the wedding and we plan to leave for JB in the early morning tomorrow, 26th.

It had been a long time since Sita had gone to PD and also a while that Ram and I had been there. We were sure that the condo apartment needs more than a little bit of cleaning. We left a little after 5pm on Saturday, and soon discovered that our timing was a little awry. The three lane highway south was jam packed with cars. And true to the Malaysian driving style and practice, the three lanes became four with many cars squeezing left and right, with some not even bothering to signal that they want to change lanes. Why they change lanes, I wonder as they would not go any faster whichever lane they take. We finally arrived in PD at close to 8pm, a very slow journey really compared to the normal one hour or so.

As its dinner time Ram suggested that we go for dinner first and then go to the apartment, a good idea really as Najla was already restless and quite ‘crappy’. She was sleeping the first two hours in the car but then woke up crappy. We had dinner at our regular eating spot, an open food court by the beach called ‘Coconut Grove’ not too far away from our condo. They always have a very wide selection of food, quite tasty, with good service too. The place was quite crowded when we arrived but there were still a few empty tables available. As it was Christmas Eve, they had all sorts of ‘specials’ on offer including a buffet spread which does not attract us at all. Ram and I settled for Japanese food while Sita had Western grilled dish. Dinner took quite a while too perhaps because of the unusually big crowd. No hassle though as we were in no hurry and Najla seems to enjoy the place. She had freedom of movement going around the place, in between tables and at the beach, attracting attention of the diners.

The main street of PD was also jammed with cars on our way to the condo apartment. Perhaps, it being the eve of Christmas, the crowd were going somewhere, although I could not imagine where as there are not much choice of places to go for entertainment in PD especially at night, other than the beach. Our condo complex was colourfully lighted up and very bright. Najla was excited seeing the lights.

We only stayed in PD overnight. Sita took Najla to the swimming pool in the morning and that gave Ram and I the opportunity to do a thorough cleaning of the apartment. We left at just after the afternoon prayers and headed straight for the wedding in KL. We were home in PJ by 5.00pm.

After dusk prayers we were out again and this time to the Mega Mall as Sita wanted to do some shopping. It’s Christmas and the mall was crowded with people. I spent most of the time looking after Najla, pushing her stroller either with her seated on it or with her pushing it. Most of the time she was on her feet going around and touching anything and everything that are close by!! I kept carrying her away and she kept wriggling to get down and go back to where she was playing when I carried her. There was this mannequin that she played with and she had twisted its arm. I took her away from the mannequin and I think she was annoyed with me for that because she pushed the stroller from the front while I was holding its handle at the back. I had to walk backwards out of the shop at the same time guiding the stroller as she was pushing it really hard. She kept pushing until we were really out of the shop. She stopped, turned around but turned back and pushed some more further away from the shop. Then she smiled, turned around and ran to the shop and played with the mannequin again. Phew! A 15 month old child trying to trick her grandfather. Later we had dinner at one of the restaurants in the mall and of course throughout the dinner we were either chasing Najla around or controlling her from throwing and pushing away stuff on the dinner table. Najla was asleep as soon as we got into the car and moving, even before we got out of the car park. As I am writing this blog she is fast asleep. Sita cleaned and changed her and she is fast asleep. She is usually a light sleeper, waking up when she is moved or when there are noises but tonight, she was as though sedated!! How nice if she is always like that when asleep. Ah well……. every child has different behaviours and characteristics.

Now it is time for us adults to sleep as we have to get up early tomorrow morning and travel again……. hmmmm ……. the thought of the long drive to JB…… We can’t take the bus this time as we have a lot of stuff to bring along to JB and not convenient to go by bus ……..

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Shall I sit or stand

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Giving a Speech?

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Playing with Dinner!!

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Tsunami Remembered

It is now almost a year since the massive tsunami wreaked havoc in Sri Lanka, Aceh, North West coast of Malaysia and Southern Thailand. Sunday December 26th. 2004 and the following days, weeks and months, will be a period remembered by people in these areas for yet a long time to come. The pain, sadness, trauma and loss felt cannot be described in mere words. There is nothing in the vocabulary to describe the phenomenon. Even the word tsunami then draws blank bewilderment amongst people. They understand earthquakes but they do not understand tsunami. The days following December 26th. 2004 left many of us confused and bewildered. The magnitude of the catastrophe just could not ‘sink in’ in our minds. It was unbelievable.
Ram and I were in the Tun Hussein Onn Hospital when the tsunami happened. She was admitted on Friday 24th after having a bad infection of her newly grafted right cornea. She had to be given intensive and intrusive care with three different types of eyedrops to the eye every 15 minutes on Friday and Saturday. The frequency was reduced to hourly on Sunday and two hourly on Monday. So we were in hospital when the tsunami happened. We watched it all on TV.

It is now almost a year, two more days to the day. A few days ago Tessa brought home a book titled “A Time To Heal” a reflection of Mercy Malaysia’s response to the tsunami in the Indian Ocean. It was recently launched by Mercy Malaysia. Vivid accounts of what happened, what the volunteers experienced, and page after page of pictures of the devastations brought back memories of what we repeatedly saw on tv during the 2004 year end week. Reading through the articles, interviews and records given in the book brought endless lumps in my throat. The volunteers do not have enough medical supplies to help the victims. There were just too many of them and there were just too few supplies available. One oxygen tank and one face mask had to be shared between a number of patients. “I did not try to remember their names. Perhaps it was my defence mechanism so that they did not become people I would remember forever”, said Dr Jelillah, President of Mercy Malaysia, who was in the thick of things, providing help and assistance to the victims in Aceh. “But it was difficult”, she continued. “How can I not remember Fitra Munandar, the plump 11 year old who was found after being buried in water and mud for four days.” “I watched him dying that night, his lungs filled with mud, all the time crying out for his mother and none of us could tell him that she had died before him, like the rest of the family except for an elder sister sobbing quietly by his side. His body burned with fever and there was nothing any of us could do. I was helpless and felt hopeless.” The same sentiments we echoed by others in the book and I remember reading similar helpless and hopelessness in the papers and articles written soon after the incident in other places like Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Many NGOs and voluntary organization, including the press organized collection of donations and aid poured in from all corners of the world. Various funds were set up to help the victims. Governments, voluntary organizations, the United Nations, and many others took the lead to campaign and call for assistance. The general public the world over responded instantaneously. Millions upon millions were collected. I would have thought that the funds collected would really help the victims to pick up the pieces and begin a new life with some ease. But it was not to be so. There is wonder in the minds of people in the streets of what happened to their donations, their contributions to the fund. There was no owning up to what had been done to the funds. There was no audit. I hear first accounts of people who have visited the devastated areas saying that nothing much had been done to help rebuild given the magnitude of funds and aids pouring in during the collection period. What they see does not add up to what was collected. My thoughts brought back memories of how funds were collected for victims, prepared for distribution by one private organization, only to be thwarted by bureaucracy, by demands of certain powers that be that aid must go through the proper authorities. In the end the victims continue to suffer, living in makeshift centers with the less than minimal facilities, denied of the aids due to them. Its humiliating and degrading to see them in that condition whiles those power that be continue in their luxuries. What gives them the authority to decide when and where to give aid, aid of which in fact were not from them but provided for by others and the general public?

I agree that there were humanitarian aids provided for the victims. There were various teams, like Mercy Malaysia, the Red Cross, aid organization of various individual countries of the North, West, South and East, all there complementing each other at the scene of the devastations, working and helping to provide some relieve to the victims, morally and physically. But what happened to all the money collected? It is a question many are asking but are also wondering whether there will be any answers. I wonder and I continue to ponder…….

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

A Diva Testing The Limelight?

Last week there was a piece of news given prominence by the local newspapers, almost all of them on the front page, of a spat between a singing ‘diva’ and a newspaper reporter and feature writer. The reporter had questioned why the singer spat in front of her and the singer responded that she spat on the ground and not at her so what’s her problem, she asked. All these happened at the courthouse canteen where a case involving the ‘diva’ defending a case of forwarding ‘hate’ eMails of another popular singer, had just been postponed. The reporter is a prosecution witness and the case was postponed for some technical reason or clarification and hence pending. I found it quite intriguing.

The diva, who comes from my hometown, has been in and out of the limelight throughout her singing career not just on her singing popularity but also of various news and reviews, court proceedings involving magazine publishers, individuals and others including one of her very close relative. People have also accused her of being ungrateful. I guess being a popular artist, she just cannot get away from the scrutiny of the press and the public. Nevertheless the way the scrutiny on her was presented and the incidents that happened leading to the scrutiny showed what she was made of. She has had limelights in her heydays, both positive and negative, and that was many years ago, and now she appears to yearn for repeats of the limelight.

In our culture, spitting in a public place is frowned upon. I consider it bad practice. Most parents would reprimand their children if they are seen to do so. When a ‘public’ figure do so, in public, close to an eating place, tells upon the character. More so if spitting was seen to be directed to a certain person or party, indicating contempt.

This singer has received various awards, including from the state. I believe she still has a good following, albeit small now as there are more and more singing sensations that are popular amongst the younger generation. But to me this singer is a ‘has been’, and what she does in recent years only hurts her reputation. I used to praise her, listen to her singing, watched her programmes on TV and followed news about her, proud that she comes from my hometown, but ……. she had recently proved her personal integrity to be questioned, her reputation to be degraded and her public display of recognition a shame. She has failed to maintain dignity of the awards given to her. Even if she wins the case in court, her public display of contempt and her recent behaviour may not salvage nor redeem her downward slide in popularity. Apart from singing popular songs, she is also good in Quran reading, in religious hymns, and verses praising the Almighty and his Prophets. My humble opinion is that she should concentrate in these, spend her remaining days in the ways of the religion (I will not doubt it if she already does so), repent, and perhaps then she can regain her integrity and redeem her reputation…… I ponder and I continue to wonder……….

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Friday, December 23, 2005

A New World Order - or - New World Odour?

Yesterday was a full day for Ram and I. There was a wedding of a daughter of a close relative, the solemnization ceremony and the reception was held at night and in the morning the bride performed the ‘Khatam Al-Quran’, or completion of Quran reading, in a ceremony followed by ‘Maulud’ and ‘Ratib’ or reading praises to the Almighty and his prophet. In the afternoon there was a talk on ‘The New World Order’ at the Islamic University, Malaysia. Sita, Fahrul with Najla came from Kerteh to attend the wedding.

I sent Ram in the morning for the Khatam ceremony and as it was mainly a ladies’ affair I left and did some errands, coming back to the wedding house just as the morning ceremony was about to end, conveniently and timely for lunch!!

After afternoon prayers we rushed to the Islamic University which is located somewhere in the Northeast of Kuala Lumpur, quite a ways form Petaling Jaya. We were a little late for the function and when we arrived the parking lot was already full and had to park along the roadside. Not sure if it was allowed but parked there nevertheless since there were many cars parked along this roadside. The function was just starting when we entered the hall and it was full with all seats taken up. Someone was kind enough to bring two chairs for us to sit. There were many standing at the back, mostly students, and I gestured at them but this kind man said no, these chairs are for the two of you. Very kind of him. Perhaps my full head of white hair gave us the advantage heh heh. There was, however one phenomenon that irks me throughout the session, that of ringing cellular phones!! These people are educated, I assume they are, since they sit in an institution of higher learning and amongst the learned. Maybe they are so learned that ringing phones do not distract them. Like ‘the nutty professor’. That means I am not nutty because I do get distracted by ringing phones, ahem!!

The talk, ‘The New World Order’ to be given by the Hon. George Galloway, a UK member of parliament, was jointly organized by the International Institute of Muslim Unity (IIMU), the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), the International Movement for a Just World (JUST) and Peace Malaysia. George Galloway, I understand, is a lone MP from a new opposition party in UK. He is an eloquent speaker and attracts the attention of his audience. The packed hall I believe were mostly students of the university and some outsiders like me. I notice that there were more foreigners than locals in the hall. I do not think the press and reporters were there as I do not see anyone looking like reporters around (if there were any they were good at hiding their identity) and no one was taking any pictures or photos. In fact, the speaker himself said that he has been in Malaysia, giving talks, for a few days already and not one reporter has approached him for an interview. I guess reporting on George Galloway would not increase sales of newspapers!!

The speaker started his speech by saying that the new world order will be nothing new and quoted an Irish singer who said that the new world order is like a ‘new world odour’, which smells the same as the old world odour!! He went on to describe how history has shaped the world and how the happenings of old would repeat itself. It is the might ruling over the weak. He says, “The great appear to be great for as long as others are on their knees”. That has allowed the strong empires to self appoint themselves to rule the world and they rule by dividing those on their knees into factions. He quoted Shakespeare who said that there is nothing new in this world. The might steals from the weak while dressed in different appearances. Imperialism flows from the system that we now call globalization, a world without borders, the system of exploitation in the guise of development, the exploitation by the rich of the poor. The rich imperialist use collaborators in the poor countries to do their bidding all for the exchange of a few favours. Imperialists or exploiters, different words but same objectives.

The rise of political Islam in the Muslim world is beginning to generate the possibility of changes in power. The change of power in Iran for example, with the masses standing up to overthrow the tyrant, the Iraq war, the Vietnam war where the Imperialist failed to dominate despite their slogan that losing the war has never been their option, and other examples of those on their knees standing up for their rights around the world, have made the Imperialist rethink their strategy to dominate. It is about time too that the Middle East countries and others similar get up from their knees and strike back, he says. Stand up and we can change the world, but there was no echo, he said. Donald Rumsfeld once said that it is not our fault that God put oil under the surface of other countries. But does that give him and the Imperialist the right to take them away. God gave wealth to the Muslims, why then give to America. Why must trade be in US dollars he asked. Why must reserves be kept in US banks, in US stock exchange and other US investment portfolios?

Today we see many do not want nations to become empires. We see organized resistance in many countries against power in US, Britain and so on. This resistance is growing, for example in Iraq, Iran and slowly around the world and these resistance cuts across cultural, religious, ethnic boundaries. It is about bringing justice around the world. It’s the duty of those on their knees to stand up and end the imperialist system, the double standards that they practice.

The talk ended with a question and answer session but as time was not on our side we had to leave and get home early as we had to get ready for the wedding solemnization ceremony scheduled for 8.00pm. We rushed home and arrived just as Sita and family arrived from Kerteh.

The wedding solemnization ceremony and the reception was an elaborate affair. Only close relatives were inside the house to witness the ceremony while the whole proceedings was transmitted by video onto two big screens put up under a huge tent outside the house for the invited guests, most of whom were already seated at their tables. Ram and I were inside the house. There were three video camera operators recording the proceedings each taking different scenes, one of them mostly concentrating on the bride and bridegroom. Later, I found out from Sita and Fahrul who were seated under the huge tent, that they did not miss any of the proceedings. It was very well coordinated and properly recorded. All these must have taken a lot of planning and preparations. I understand that there were committees and sub-committees set up to plan and manage the whole event, and that it was all within and amongst the immediate family members. I thought that it was a very properly planned and managed event, and with their experience here they can add ‘wedding plans and event management’ as an additional business venture.

We get to meet many of our relatives, some of them having traveled from distant parts of the country. There were also those from Indonesia, Japan and Australia. It was nice to meet up with them all. Najla was with us and she was awake, playing and moving around throughout the evening, and attracted attention as well since many of the relatives have not seen her yet. The long day ended past midnight and Najla fell asleep in the car long before we arrived home, and all of us soon after we got home. It was a memorable day indeed…..

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya

Friday, December 09, 2005

Class of '62 - A Gathering Of Classmates

Three weeks ago, I received an sms inviting me and my wife to a dinner gathering of class of 62 classmates in a restaurant operated by one of the classmates. I placed a reminder on my pda for the date of the gathering. This is one gathering that I always look forward to as it gives me the opportunity to fraternize with my former classmates while enjoying some good food. The day came and the reminder duly triggered by the pda by a series of beeps.

I was a little late in arriving at the location as it was dark and I took a wrong turn off. I had to make a long detour to get back on track. When I arrived at the restaurant there was already quite a crowd and I was quite surprised that there were strangers amongst the crowd and the ones I recognized were only a handful of my former classmates. The host welcomed us and I found out that for this night he was gathering all his classmates that he could call upon, from lower school to college. That was why there were strangers in our midst. We made some new friends that night. The host was my classmate in Technical College where we studied engineering.

Over dinner we were joking and sharing stories of old. There were a lot of laughter and light banters amongst the crowd. We mixed around and introduced ourselves to those that we do not know. One lady sat next to Ram at dinner and introduced herself by her full name and Ram also introduced herself by her full name. This lady used to live overseas, in Rome specifically, as her husband was working in the Malaysian Embassy there. Ram told her that we too used to live overseas, in Japan and Paris. So between the two of them they had volumessssss of information to share, heh heh. However, the interesting part of their conversation was not where they were or have been or what they have done. Its where they both come from!!

Amidst talking about where they have been to, where they used to work and so on, this lady asked Ram whether I came from Perlis, like her husband who was from Perlis. Ram said no. “But, how come he is a classmate to the host as the host came from Perlis” she asked. “Oh, they were classmates in college in KL, My husband and I come from Johore” Ram replied. “Oh really, I come from Johore Bahru and I was in SIGS (the secondary school) until 1962”, she said. I was listening to their conversation and was quite amused really. I thought I could see where this conversation would lead to. SIGS? Ram asked. “I was there too” she exclaimed “and I thought you look kind of familiar to me”. Ram asked for her nickname and she said “Nilam”. “Nilam? Oh my…. I am Melah” Ram replied. “Melah? And your mother is Mak Bi, and… Shidah…, Siti” They just hugged and patted each other while I continue to be amused, so also those that were around us at the time. Recognition came only after talking for a good half-an-hour!! They definitely do not recognize each other, do not recognize each others full name, and have not met for a very long time, since their school days. They remembered only each others nickname. For the rest of the night that we were there they remained together, talking of old times.

Meanwhile, I was with another classmate who introduced his new and young wife (his previous wife passed away quite some years ago) who also came from Johore Bahru. I found out that her elder brother lives next door to my mum and that her family lives close to Ram’s and Nilam’s former house. Her elder sister was classmate to Ram and Nilam. So the three of them had common things to talk about whilst the husbands watched and be amused over the whole discovery!!

There was plenty of good food that night and interesting company from all walks of life, and mostly retired like us or semi retired, if there is such a thing as semi retirement. We just mingled and mixed around, except the three ladies of course, who could not get enough of information sharing!! They exchanged contact numbers and promised to call up each other later. How long later? ……… hmmmmm …. I would like to check that out, how long later …….

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Passing of A Very Close Relative

At 4.35am, Thursday December 1st. morning, our fixed line phone rang. Bleary eyed, groggy, having slept only for about two and a half hours, and feeling very anxious, I picked up the phone. Ram’s niece, the youngest one amongst her siblings, was on the other end of the line.

“Uncle!” she said, “Bah passed away already uncle, just a few minutes ago”. She was very calm when she said this and she was speaking word by word slowly and quite softly. I could also sense she was crying.

Bah is Ram’s brother in-law, the 82 year old husband of her elder sister, who herself had passed away on the 20th of Ramadan 2004. We had expected to receive this kind of call any time as the deceased had not been well for quite a while and had been in and out of hospital several times. I had written about his condition and what he had gone through in this ‘blog’ the past couple of weeks.

“Inna-lillah-Hiwainna-illahirraaji’unn” I replied.

“I was tending to him and went to sleep at about 4. 00 am.” she said. “I dreamt he passed away, and I woke up at 4.20 am. I checked on him and found him not breathing. Although his chest and upper body was still warm uncle, I felt his legs were cold. The fan was running and directed to the foot of his bed and I thought it could be the fan that made his legs cold but when I checked again he was still not breathing and his eyes closed. I called Pak Mat, the neighbour, and he confirmed it too. Please make some phone calls ok uncle”.

“Have you informed anybody yet?” I asked my niece.

“Yes” she replied. “All my brothers and sisters, and I am now calling all my uncles and aunties”.

“Ok”, I said, “I will inform the others”.

Ram was sitting up in bed looking at me. I told her the news and between us we made the necessary calls to inform other kinfolks, while at the same time getting ready to go over to the brother-in-law’s house, which is in the next town about 40 kilometers away from us. Expecting to spend a long while in his house, Ram packed some change of clothes and other essentials in a small bag and we headed to the house.

Neighbours and those from the neighbourhood mosque came to offer prayers for the deceased, after the dawn prayers. They were still there when we arrived. All his children and their families had arrived earlier except for his second son and family, living in Singapore but they were already on their way by road, and a doctor daughter who was away in East Malaysia, on a work assignment, still trying to make flight arrangements to return. The eldest son, a General in the army, was taking charge of all arrangements for the day. He seeks advice, made decisions and gave instructions in true army discipline, style and mannerism. We were there to lend him support. Tessa was also there. Shaffik came a little later. He happened to be in town for a meeting having arrived from Bintulu at about 10.30pm. the previous night. Ram and I had gone to meet him in his hotel and were there until way after midnight before going home. That was why we had only about two and a half hours sleep on receiving the inevitable early morning call from Ram’s niece.

People, family and friends, were already streaming in to pay their respect to the deceased. It was decided to hold the funeral services at about 11.00am and arrangements were made for that target time. Able nephews and grandnephews did most of the running around getting police and burial permits, purchasing essentials for the funeral services, arranging and preparing burial paraphernalia, preparing burial plot at the graveyard, etc. All completed by about 11.30 am ready for the obligatory prayer for the deceased. The son from Singapore and his family arrived at about the same time. He was finally placed to ‘rest’ not too far away from his wife’s grave at about just after noon and the army religious officer read the final rights and led prayers at the grave. All that was necessary for the funeral service were over just before the midday prayers.

When we came back to the house after the funeral service people were still streaming in to meet the family and offer their condolences. The doctor daughter also arrived after that. Although she missed the funeral, she had earlier told the elder brother not to wait for her return but to proceed with the funeral services as quickly as possible, indeed a correct decision in the eyes of our religion. We have been taught not to delay funerals of deceased.

The rest of the day was spent in solemn prayers for the deceased and a special prayer for him was performed in the neighbourhood mosque after the dusk prayers. There was a big turnout for this prayer session. After most of the guests have gone, the siblings held a discussion among themselves, led by the General naturally, to decide what to do with the assets and properties of the deceased, now that both parents have passed away. I was later informed that they will honour the wishes of the deceased as well as those of their mother as the deceased had at some point or other gave some instructions or information to one or more of his children of what to do with certain properties and belongings him and his wife had. I was delighted to hear this. I was very happy for them. The siblings had done the right thing. They even agreed to the parents request that their house be bequeathed “wakaf’ for religious purposes.

The Singapore nephew and family followed us home in their car to stay the night over in our house. We have enough rooms available for their use and we were happy to have them over. Over breakfast (we had prepared a simple breakfast) we talked about the old times, especially of the deceased and his late wife. We also talked about our guests’ grand and great grandparents. Basically informing them of their roots. I told them of the stories that my mother-in-law related to me about her life and how she grew up, her origin and so on. It dawned on me then that these facts need to be written down, recorded and perhaps catalogued for the benefit of our children, grandchildren and their future, younger generations. I can do this but …….. will I have the time to do it…… hmmmmm….. there seems to be so many things that I can write, want to write, and record…. but hmmmmm……. I just wonder…….

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Family Affair

Ram and I had just returned from Kerteh when I received a call from mum in Johore Bahru. She asked me when I plan to come down to JB as she wanted to call a meeting of the family. (I am the Chairman of the family association, by default of course, being the eldest sibling!!). So it was, that Ram and I decided to go down to JB by bus. It is better than having to drive for 4 to 5 hours on the highway, more so after having just driven from Kerteh to Petaling Jaya, a journey that also took about 5 hours.

Meanwhile, I received an eMail from a distant cyber acquaintance, a family living halfway around the globe and whose night time is my daylight hours. This friend enquired if I know of a long lost friend of theirs who happened to come from the same hometown as mine, Johore Bahru. I know this family well, the mother especially, as she was a very active politician, an activist, an educationist, and a well known figure at that time. Everyone called her Ibu Zain. My mum sat with her in various committees, political as well as social organizations. That was how I came to know of Ibu Zain. I was a small boy then, barely into my teens and often followed my mum or dad to their political functions and dos. I used to wonder at how eloquent the activists of the time were, how fiery their speeches were, my mum and dad too, how hard they worked towards gaining independence for the country, from the ‘clutches’ of the foreign powers, from the British and their divide and rule supremacy specifically.

The coincidental eMail I received from my distant friend sets my memories racing back to the 50’s and 60’s. It has been a long time. But the memories linger on and I imagined the possibilities of my writing a part of history from my own perspective. My mum and dad were also activists, heavily involved in politics of the time, and perhaps had in some way influenced the way I look at life now. I mentioned this to mum when I was with her and she was delighted. She was happy to note that someone from the other side of the globe had shown much interest in our country. She was delighted that I have given thought to putting on paper the happenings of those difficult years, not that it has not been written already, but that it is going to be written from our family perspective. I hope and pray I can live up to her expectations. You can see her face brightening up when we talked of those bygone years, years that have left an indelible mark in her life, and certainly mine too.

The enthusiasm mum and I and some other siblings of mine, especially the older ones, have on our family association is borne out of the experiences we went through over the difficult years I mentioned above. Thus, it was not difficult to get our family members to agree on some of the things we propose to do for the association. The meeting that mum requested went as planned and most committee members showed high commitments to the activities of our association. That makes my job as chairman very much easier. Now it is to convince the general members of our association on the decisions that the committee had taken at the recent meeting and I do not envisage any problem in getting all round agreement. We propagate changes for the association and we look for ways to improve, as delegated by the general membership to the main committee, and it is the aim of the committee members to deliver. Some strategies have been worked out to achieve this and it is my fervent hope to bring our association to a higher level, in the way of the Almighty and also recognized by society. A lot of work needs to be done but I am sure they will lead to the association achieving its objectives and set targets. We seek, as always, guidance from the Almighty and the strength and perseverance to pursue these aims. For His blessing we pray………..

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya