Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tok Nah

This is my 100th post.

Tok Nah kembali ke rahmatullah selepas Asar hari Khamis, 26 Julai 2007 kerana sakit tua.
According to her IC, she was 79.

I last saw her during the recent famous flood of Kota Tinggi. She was fine then.

Then i heard she had a minor stroke, and was in and out of hospitals. I didnt visit her anytime during this period. A cousin called the weekend before her demise and told me that Tok couldnt recognise anyone anymore. She had visitors only visible to her eyes, and they were all relatives or her friends that have passed away. I was also told that Tok Nah had grown so painfully thin, she was just bones wrapped in tired skin.

I wanted to go kampung right away, i could feel that her time was near. But our car broke down and had to be sent to the workshop. The gearbox had to be changed and it would require the worksop many days to do it. And so i made Yamtuan promise that the next weekend, we would go back kampung and visit her.

On Thursday, the car was ready.

On Thursday, she was called.

Tak ada rezeki nak berjumpa.

Kami bertolak pukul 3 pagi hari Jumaat, 27 Julai. Sempat sampai, alhamdulillah.

Bathing her and then helping her into her last dress, was a sobering experience indeed. I could not help but remember how the roles were reversed. During the first few months of my life it was her who took care of me, bathe and dress me.

I am sorry for a lot of things. I love you, Tok Nah.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Telur Ayam Rebus Masak Hitam

Put eggs in pot.
Pour water and put on the stove.
Go watch tv.
Wait for the whole house to get smoky. Makes watching the tv lagi real. And romantic.
Wait until you hear the eggs explode. Ooooh, thrill!
Scoop the eggs out and throw away the pot.

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Fresh from the pot.

Kupas kulitnya, kupas kulitnya.

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See, still can eat what? The best part is, you dont miss your favourite tv show.

You do this often enough, hubby will even stop berleter. Trust me. I should know. I dont remember him getting angry. But a lot of things i dont remember. Like boiling eggs. You think maybe by remote chance, i am actually forgetful? Or have lapses of amnesia?

Like they say, the way to win your man's heart is through the stomach. Now, if only i can remember the route from heart to stomach.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Taxi and Legs

One Day. Seapark.

We were on the way to dinner. We were in the car, about 20-30 metres away from that junction of Pelita and MacDonald, when an accident happened there. A taxi hit a motorbike and he fell right infront of a car coming from the opposite side of the road and it ran over him (here our stories differ, Yamtuan said the motorbike rider was a she and the car was a Wira. I said it was a Chinese man (kulit putih gebu je, ingat orang perempuan! Sheeeshh.. ) and the car was a Mercedes). The first thing the rider did? Writhed on the road for a few minutes and then he went very still. The first thing the drivers of the two cars did? Argue. Yep, they did. They argued like blind men trying to pin down the tail (blame) on the ass. Yamtuan rolled down the window and yelled at them to stop the squabbling and call an ambulance/police instead. They glared at us, one of them picked up his phone and started arguing with the phone instead. He probably called the wife. We only had the PJ-our area's police number with us, so we called them.

At that point, I was certain that the rider would be okay as I saw the Wira/Mercedes ran over his legs. Only! His vital organs were spared, I hoped. And of course, he would be fine.

The Next Day. Kuala Pilah.

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We were underneath the rambutan tree feasting on rambutan daging.. err, gading (that I personally handpicked *jobo*) at Yamtuan’s kampong. A taxi sped by and hit a chicken. ‘Ayam den! Ayam den!’ my MIL cried. But it was a minor accident, I could swear. The taxi (again!) only hit its legs (yes again). Ayam Den Lapeh limped a bit but legs are a distance away from the stomach yes? Boleh makan nasi lagi, no? My BIL was there, now take this, he’s a policeman. By default, he has better eyes/ears for details than me right? He said when the car hit the chicken, there was a little pop sound. No way, I said. There was a ‘CLUCK cluck cluck’ sound, yes, and it was loud not little. But a pop? Come on! Who are you trying to kid? Cuma ujikaji lidi berbara dengan gas hidrogen dalam tabung uji sahaja boleh menghasilkan bunyi pop.

We caught the chicken and put it in an overturned basket under the house. He would be okay, I said. Nothing that a dab of minyak gamat wouldn’t help. A bit of spa treatment too perhaps, but no big deal. It would be crooning its signature cock-a-doodle-do in no time.

The next day, the chicken limped a bit less, and that was it. Omak insisted that we slaughter it for lunch. A-Okaye. Ayam kampong for lunch, how could I say no? And so we did. I held it and BIL did the slicing.

During post-mortem, we discovered many bruises on the bird. No surprise there. This however, came as a surprise to me – one of its kidneys actually was almost in smithereens. It must have exploded. Thus, the pop sound was explained. The other kidney was SO swollen it was bigger than its heart. If we didn’t have him for lunch, he would have died a slow, undignified, painful death.
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That really got me thinking. What u see is not necessarily what u get.

The human body is just another case of contradictions. It is strong yet weak. Each of the organs are made of the highest lab-grade of material, yet sturdy enough for industrial activities. The organs, the body, the bones are all of the best strongest premium quality there are and heavy-duty as heavy duties can only be. The internals are maintenance-free and more often than not, requires no downtime. The externals may require some hours in the gym and spa, but otherwise, the body is to last you your lifetime.

Yet, despite the wonder of the built, if He wills it to fail, it will. It doesnt even need reasons to. Reasons are just there to make things easier for us mortals to accept.

Geez, I hope the Seaparkrider would be fine.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Let’s Get Physical

I sat through a presentation on a new proposal for ‘bahan bantuan mengajar’ for Form 4 Physics yesterday.

The kit was invented to help reduce the many D(s) of the subject – Dull, Dry, Difficult, Drag, Dogol, Dung, Drats, Dreary, Die-die, Doomed, etc. Studies have shown that the kit helps improve student’s understanding of the subject by 40%. Fourty-blooming-percent! Never mind the statistics, but there I was in the room, feeling that the kit was my prayers answered. It must have been invented for me, except it is twenty-no-joke years too late.

I didn’t just hate Physics with intensity of infinite measure. I was convinced that the subject hated me. With vengeance.

In school, Cikgu Norliya for example, for reasons unknown to me, I could swear, absolutely hated my guts. She was always giving me the sweeping head-to-toe look, you know .. THAT look. I hated the ‘pita detik, belauan, troboskop, halaju, pegun, newton halo,’ all – especially the pita detik. I could not relate it to daily life, I could not see the importance. Even if I could, I couldn’t care less! I could relate to chemistry and biology. I cared immensely how my heart pump blood and circulate it all around. I cared how detergets and the bleach help whiten my shirt. But physics? I was not governed by the rules of physics, no sir. Contrary to established facts. Not in my life it didnt, not physics.

This mutual hatred thing happened throughout my university days too. Whoever taught physics would hate me. Everytime. Every semester. Each one of them hated me with every pita-detik of their life – or so I thought.

After uni, being much older and able to think slightly better, I developed theories to explain the strange phenomena. What was once unfathomable could maybe be explained:-
  1. I must have given the teachers/lecturers (cikgu Norliya included) obvious tell-tale signs on how much I dreaded the subject. They must have thought that I hated them thus why they reacted towards me that way; and/or
  2. It was all in my head. I lulled myself into thinking that the reason why I never did well in physics was because THEY hated me.

For my master degree, sort of to proof a point, I did a project in physics. Yep, talk about being brazen and foolhardy! Wanna talk about facing fear bellybutton to bellybutton? I did exactly that! Crazy, I know. I was possessed by the demons of physics, must be!

Oh the endless torture.

For what felt like forever, I trudged wearily day in and day out to the Physics Faculty of UM. For hours on end, I would be working with wires, metal clips, metal plates and blinking machines and then plotted charts after charts after charts of bintik-bintik that I never cared about. This all happened at night and weekends as I was a miskin student – therefore I had to work to earn my keeps plus pay the school fees. I bled through the nose and ears and from all orifice you could think of. I spent many nights slogging through books and journals on ACDC, corrosion, electrical etc. I then wrote one whole thick thesis about impedance and what it meant. Yep, my project was so physics I bled throughout. Many times I questioned my motives, many times I wondered whether the wires and clips would provide me easy escape if I were to plug them to myself. Sizzle my brain in the process? It was half sizzled already.

Then it was over. Viva. And you know what, it was well worth it. I got grades good enough to earn a place for the thesis in one of the shelves in the library. I got an A. Can you absolutely believe it? I couldn’t believe it myself too. Not bad for a Physics-hater, don’t you think? An A. In my entire life, it was always a C6. And then an A.

My point, if I do have one, is this - it is all in the mind. It is all about what one decided. It was my decision that physics would be a horror-subject, just as much as it was my decision to not do well in it. I decided to hate it and then decided that the teachers would hate me too. My decision. My own doing.

And then i set myself to do it and doi it well, and i did.

You think you can, therefore you can.

You think sure-die, you will surely die --faster than you could say the word ‘die’.

I tried it for chemistry too. Never did well in the subject in my school days. But my degree is in chemical engineering. Did awfully bad in additional maths too, but scored in the subject in uni. If you will yourself into it enough, you will be able to conquer the fear/subject. Applicable for any venture at all.

Except driving.

Yes, shamefully, I still haven’t gotten myself a driver’s licence. This one betul susah punya. Cikgu memandu all hate me.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Things you Must Never Say to a Woman

(Berdasarkan Kisah Benar. Identiti sebenar dirahsiakan atas permintaan popular)

At a company’s annual dinner.
Fay the Secretary was standing at a corner with her husband (married for about a year) exchanging small talks with some guests. The Director went to her and said, ‘Congratulations you two! When is the baby due? Looks like it is going to be soon!’ She wasn’t pregnant. She just looked it. Later in the week, she actually tendered in her resignation letter.
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At a friend’s house.
Her date arrived to pick her up. They were planning to go do the usual dating ritual, watch movie and then dinner. The first thing he said when he saw her was, ‘why you look like Batman?’ She was wearing all black. Surprise surprise, the budding relationship never got through the ‘bud’ stage. They broke off.
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Again, at a dinner function.
She went to the dinner in her best dress and hair done up Nellie-Oleson-from-Little-House-on-the-Prairies style. One of the guests saw her and exclaimed, ‘OMG, who did your hair?’ in front of everyone. Totally killed her self-confidence!
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Wedding night.
The groom took one look at the wife and asked, ‘is that IT?’ I cant describe his intonation or his face as she told it to me, but let’s just say the exchange of words that followed wasn’t at all the kind of thing one would expect coming from a blushing-bride and eager-groom. Bumpy start for a marriage.
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A friend was sort of dating with this one guy. They were both not young and sort of looking for second chances. Mature relationship, one would say. She couldn’t meet him as planned and so texted him something about ‘sorry I had to cancel. I miss you’ to which he replied, ‘no worries, I am with another girl. But of course, being with you would be better.’ Ok, maybe mature relationship with a not-so-mature man, one would say now? If she wasn’t crying as she was telling it to me, I probably would laugh at how comical the situation was. Poor girl.
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Woman absolutely hate it when:-
1) you remind her that she’s fat.
Even if she looks very pregnant and probably are having contractions also and begs you to send her to a Rumah Bersalin, you just assume that she just had had too much to eat. Give her ENO, enough. Not unless she declares it, she is NOT PREGNANT.

2) you don’t appreciate the effort she puts in for looking her best for you .
So what if her hair looks silly and standing beside her makes you look like Charles Ingall Wilder? Even without her by your side, you already look like charles the farmer on a bad-hay day what..

3) you remind her that you’re superficial and marry her only for bodylicious reasons.
i know it always is the number one reason. But halloo... do due-diligence can or not so you dont get any surprises when the purchase is finally unwrapped?

4) you compare her to other girls
big no no NO NEHI NEVER. No one woman is comparable to the next. Each woman is an apple, or orange (me, definitely a pear) or mangosteen or what-have-you. Where can compare one laidet? Each in a class of its own. Each one the prettiest and the best in her own little class and no one else shares the class with her. Cannot compare one. Unless your tongue is insured. If you value it, bite it hard. Dont say.

5) you have a list of girls to try-and-error on and she's in the list too.
If you do have a list or one whole directory of girls to woo, aiyoh, be discreet can or not? Some people!!

Foolproof Conduct:
If you have nothing nice to say, DONT SAY.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007


Room 230, Belmont Marco Polo Hotel
– where everything must be taken with a pinch of salt (otherwise makan tak rasa, tawau kan..), Sabah.

5 July, Late

What a tiring tiring day. Took the first flight out from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu, then KK to Tawau. Landed here an hour later than scheduled. Sleepy for having stayed up the night before. And half-dead tired from plane-hopping. But, the show must go on. Tawau being the last port before I can head home.

Sleepy and tired, true, but in a way, excited too. I have never set foot in Tawau before. And I have been told that Tawau is very near to Sampoerna and near Sipadan as well. Now, after Captain Jack Sparrow, how can i not think of swashbuckling pirates as something romantic? But better not think my thoughts out loud, kan? One must be careful with what one wishes for. Ya? I dont want to inspire Yamtuan into piercing his ears, goldplating his teeth and skipping showers.

The driver was waiting for us at Tawau’s airport. Nice guy, lurus like ruler. Being the over-ramah person that I was, I asked him whether he has ever been to Malaya. He said no, the farthest he had ever been to was Kota Kinabalu. And so I jokingly told him, ‘pasai awak kerja bawak kereta! Kalau awak kerja bawak kapalterbang, tentu dah sampai semenanjung.’ He considered what I said for a few seconds then agreed with me. True what, how to drive across the ocean, kan? My brilliance blinds me sometimes.

He took us to the office in Kunak (my colleague who travelled with me thought the place is called Kuntilanak. Haha..) and from the smell alone, I was transported immediately back to my hard-hat engineering days at a palm oil mill. And I remembered the oily slippery floor, the orange-coloured fungi growth on spent fruit bunches, the persistent fruitflies, the wet heat, the heavy hard shoes, the wolf-whistles, the oil on my face and hair, and the smell of ripe and cooked fruits that stayed stuck on my clothes. Life as an engineer at a palm oil mill is so very not glamorous, no sir. Forget your make up, high heels and Chanel No.5. You have gotta ruggerdise yourself.

And so just now, I walked through the mill (in my heels, white crispy shirt, face done up and reeking of Chanel No.19), taking pictures while having all my senses awakened to its recorded memory of having-been-there-having-done-that. By the time I was through, I managed to walk like a cowboy complete with the messy i-dont-give-ahoot look just like I always did back then. Never mind the high heels.

I don’t exactly miss being an engineer but maybe Mak does. It was easier for her to answer then, when asked by her friends on ‘dia kerja apa?’. Now she isn’t sure how to answer. I told her that I am Pegawai Mesyuarat because frankly, that is about all that I do now. Attend meetings, one after the other. Pre-meeting, meeting, post meeting, meeting on meeting etc. That’s all I do, a professional in attending meetings.

Come to think of it, throughout the years I have worn quite a number of hats. I have worked as:-
1) Waitress
2) Salesgirl
3) Cleaner
4) Tuition teacher
5) Technician
6) Engineer
7) Writer
8) Trainer
9) Tukang masak kantin sekolah
10) Data entry clerk

Soon I will be Pengarah Rumahtangga merangkap Pengurus Yamtuan & Anak-Anak . Ok also.

6 July, Morning

Had breakfast and went scouring the town right after. My boss asked me to buy for her 1kg each of udang kering, bilis halus and bilis besar. That’s already 3 kg of extra luggage. Have I also mentioned that there were ‘1kg of each’ of things from Sarawak too? *Groannnn*.

Walked over to Tawau’s Central Market then its Pasar Tanjung where, between Hez and me, we must have bought many kilos of half the ocean’s content. I actually had a wild time shopping, seriously. Do you know that here, goldsmiths also sell ‘dedak ayam’ and jackfruits - all in one shop? And restaurants offer typewriting services too, like a cybercafé in a way? Then shops that sell clothes also sell ‘periuk ayan’ and ‘mesin parut kelapa’. Absolutely delighting! Oh and, one goldsmith also sell, ‘Handset boleh menukar wang’. Hez wouldn’t let me go and ask but I wonder if it is a handphone that you can use to tap other objects to turn them into money. What great technology! I want! I want!
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One shop had an advertisement on its wall, ‘pekerja lelaki, ada ic, tidak merokok, rajin.’ Yep, in that particular order. Being hardworking will not exactly give you an advantage, halloo, nut unless you have a Malaysian IC!

After 2 hours, we could already map the town. I love this place, the people have a wacky sense of humor, and they understand my wazata jokes!!!

I am back at Room 230 now. Hez wants to go to the saloon downstairs to do damage control to her hair. I need to figure out how to align the dried fish and prawns between my palm-oil-mill-smelling clothes. Do I need to just sit on my bag or jump up and down on it? Certainly, dilemma of the highest order.

Oh, should you visit Tawau, stay at this hotel. The internet is charged by the minute, less than 20 cents per minute, via dial-up. Service is great. Just don’t ask them if they have a gym or swimming pool, they don’t. But this is the most posh hotel in Tawau.

Now, packing time. God willing, tonight I will be sleeping in my own bed with Sun and Dot! Woohoo.. and Yamtuan too, of course.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Serawak Sarawak Seghawak

I am writing this from Room 921 of Hilton Kuching, a room with a view of the sungai rejang. Nice. I like.

I have always liked Kuching. I first came here in 1977. Went to Sekolah Rendah Mejar Jeneral Dato Ibrahim at Batu 7 from 1977 until 1980. Had the greatest time there: hunting for skulls behind the school, snacking on young shoots of i-dont-know-what-plant (called it daun kambing), singing on the teacher's table (always the same song, 'bila ku dengar bunyi marakas, diiring pula petikan gitar, suara biola mendayu-dayu, mengiringi suaramuuuuu), was always losing in the lari-dalam-guni competition, and watching movies during the weekends with Cikgu Salma Batu.

And i especially love going for ice creams at Sunny Hill and shopping for books at the Electra House. And oh my, i absolutely love the museum! With its stuffed wolves, birds and snakes and that giant skeleton of a whale and then the park that surrounds the museum, the lotus pond (Mak kata, 'hang pegang bunga dia hang jadi batu') and the many many tombstones. Again, i was always scouting around for skulls there. Why the fascination with skulls, you ask? I wonder why too.

There was this one church in town that got my attention. Beautiful, sombre and big. Huge cross on top. Mak kata, ada one little half chicken thrown there on the cross by the wind. You see, my Mak has always been creative. She would create many wonderful stories for us. The half chicken was about this little baby chicken who wanted to meet the king. Cant remember exactly how the story went, but it had something to do with the wind helping the poor lass (as it had only one leg one wing, how to go fast fast to meet the king far far ? Common sense lah) and by blowing too hard, the half chicken went flying up so high and too high, it got stuck between the cross and that's where it still is. Traumatising story for a kid to hear, dont you think? Haha.. My mom, dont i just love her to bits?! Everytime we passed by the church, i would squint my eyes, trying to see better, trying to find the little chickling. Never could see it. SBut there were days, i thought i could see the fluttering of a wing. Chirp Chirp!

i wanted to go visit the museum again today and wanted to look at the church too. Failed miserably : (1) Finished my meeting at 4.30 and the museum pulled its shutters at 4.30 (2) Couldnt remember which church which cross!

Yamtuan sent some MMSes of the kids, Sun blowing me kisses and Dot asking me to hurry home. Miss them sorely. One day, i will drag them all down my memory lane in Sarawak and tell tall tales to them kids too. Like stones are all made from naughty stubborn children and if mothers hit their kids with senduk lauk, they will turn into monkeys. And if they dont eat enough, they might get blown away by the wind like the half chickling too!

I miss them. But i am not worried. I know the kids are in good hands, Yamtuan mothers them better than their mother. It is him that i worry about. I hope he will not heat sambal belacan in the microwave again because the last time he did that, the whole house smelled like belacan. Tilam bantal langsir sejadah all. I tell you, no joke matter. No amount of febreeze could make the smell go away. You try before you say anything. Try see.

And i hope he wont try to cook too. I asked him to go buy kunyit once and because he couldnt find kunyit, he bought me halia instead. Same what, he said. Yeah, baby. Same. Like identical twins. Very very swap-able. Just like pandan and serai. Can use either or. Sure.

And i hope he wouldnt try to do anything (except combing) to Dot's hair. The last time they played with my curlers, her hair got very very entangled. And i mean, big time.

I better hurry home, dont you think?