Thursday, October 8, 2009
'Working' Down Memory Lane
The HR mood is not quite over yet but I was ready for work. Not back to the office but driving down to Ulu Bendul (some 110km away) to continue work on rehabilitating an old Minangkabau-style house which my late parents left behind and my sisters are not too crazy about. It's the house I grew up in (see pic). The additional photo was taken during the last cleaning by the wife, my sister and her daughter.
Driving alone at 9.05 am, I enjoyed the crawl until past the Sungai Besi Toll Plaza listening to Klasik FM. For those interested in the Malay evergreen songs by P. Ramlee, Saloma, S, Jebeng, Ahmad Jais, Jeffry Din, A, Ramlee, L. Ramlee, R, Azmi, Farzidah Joned, etc, etc ( eh, what happened to Jamlludin Alias, ah? Never heard his baritone voice anymore!), do tune in to that station. It will whizz you to the best of yesteryears like a time machine. After Sg, Besi Toll Plaza, you may try FI if you dare and care not for your life (and probably others' too) or a police summon.
Even after the juction to Kajang, I began to think of old days. I used to go to Kajang.... for sate Kajang? Noooo, where got money!It's to listen to lectures on Sastera Melayu and Poetry with some teacher friends including the late Cikgu Sabtu and CIkgu Sudin ( May Allah bless their souls). Kajang used to be a meeting point for sasterawan ( other than KL) but no longer so.
The same friends used to support the formation of a kampung musical combo ( a four-piece band with a drum set) of which I was the leader although I knew nuts about musical scores and play the accordion and clarinet ad lib. Hey, we played at weddings even on the day before my HSC ( STPM) exam. If music be food for the soul, play on. My brother, Zainal Ariffin Abdul Ghani, got the bug and became a Music Instructor/Lecturer for school teachers.
The experience in conducting a 4-piece band consisting of kampung boys (including self) with no musical education or experience whatever, was fascinating. We play completely by ear with Zailan on the violin or guitar, Ibrahim Fiji or Zainal whacking at the drum set, Aziz blowing a few lines on the trumpet and me with the accordion or clarinet. Coordinating and harmonizing the cacophonous sound they make and cuing in a bathroom singer to start or stop crooning, is a crazy job. But hard work always pays off. At one wedding reception the musicians from the bridegroom's side consisting of trained music teachers met us at the bride's house and we played together. No one suspected that my musicians including self were totally note-blind. And the leader of the band, Cikgu Sulaiman from Kuala Pilah, thought that we were quite good. He didn't know that we trained until 4am sometimes. The gang considered me mad for insisting on all the repeats, not knowing that I've been branded as a perfectionist by the psychologists. ( Haaaa, lucky not a psycho!).The point here is that you can do almost anything if you set your mind to it....
Once at the old house I started to work on repairing the broken-down cement drains. As I mixed the cement and sand manually in a wheelburrow, my thoughts ran through the list of old friends who used to play cards with me in the house while it was being built. Ali Baba ( his real name), Zainal Naim, Nordin Jaalam, Aziz Gemuk. Ujang Bucit, Ujang Sayau and Pak Itam were some of the regulars, playing hard ( just as I practised playing on the accordion and clarinet) until 4 am. No electricity yet and we used an oil lamp (pelita). Hard to believe that three of them had passed away and only one of them do I meet sometimes at the Ulu Bendul mosque for Friday Prayers. The music friends, the school friends, the badminton gang members etc have all disappeared since I left the village to go to the University. I wonder where they are now. Even the few friends who made it to the University ( Tahir, Md Shah, Dr Ramly, Aziz Abdullah, Md Zain etc) seemed to be always eschewing a meet. Jalaludin, the best student in class (Form V), I heard was struck by the complete loss of memory (alzheimer's) disease. He can't even recognize his own house when taken a few yards away. May Allah have mercy on him.
As I took a respite from work to reminisce on the thrill of past adventures which include fishing in a deep-jungle pond and being scared away by a tiger, trapping birds but catching a hawk in a small cage, stealing durians at night just for the fun of it since we all had durian trees of our own with more than enough fruits to eat, scaring old ladies walking home from the village 'surau'at night and being chased away with a parang....I noticed some roadside clearance work being done right in front of the house. JKR people were clearing a clump of wild bamboos growing on a hillside and threatening to collapse onto the road if a landslide were to occur. They hacked away happily but dumped the bamboo poles with all their branches and leaves by the roadside opposite the house. I've cleared that area some months ago (see pic). Before I could give them a piece of my mind, they had vanished in a truck parked close by.
Ever tried mixing cement and sand and reconstructing or mending broken drains? It's a back-breaking job drenching you in a bucketful of sweat. Take a rest in the breeze with a cold drink in hand. God, it's heavenly ( Sorry no pic since I was all alone and only using the phonecam). With the sweet old memories replaying in my head and making me smile all alone, I didn't ralize when the memories became wilder and wilder as recollections took a ride on the wings of daydreaming. It was indeed a spiritual rendevous with old friends.