I was 3 when his band Kembara was a hit with their song Gerhana. My two uncles were in their late teens and as rocker wannabes as the average Mat of that era. The era where the likes of bands Black Dog Bone/Sweet Charity/Alley Cats sang with big microphones with multi coloured sponge coverings which looked like they were huge lollipops. I remembered being fascinated with them microphones.
By default, I was always abreast with the music development of the 80s. My Yayi and Nyai have a total of 13 children. My first 5 years in the area called Kaki Bukit was living under one roof with 11 single uncles and aunties and their taste of music. The aunties would be blaring songs from Endang S. Taurina, Hetty Kose Endang, Emillia Contessa and other Indonesian singers who were a hit at that time for their early to mid 20s age group. The uncles, especially the two youngest ones were undoubtedly rockers wannabe, saving their pocket money to buy themselves ‘gitar tong‘ which they strum in the evening outside in the veranda with their fraternity of ‘Mats‘—much to the disdain of my Yayi who was the caretaker of the Surau and guru mengaji of that area. My uncles, I would think they preceded the generations of ‘Mat Guitar Bawah Block’ that were to come in the late 80s to present day.
Sometimes I think I have photographic memory. I tend to remember things and faces through events if stimulated by any object that was present during the incident that happened in the past. And it happened again just now when the hubby was channel surfing and accidentally came across the Anugerah event and we were just in time to watch the old rockers sing his song, Kerana Mu Kekasih.
Suddenly I was back in that front room in the yellow house on Jalan Perwira, Kaki Bukit. At 3 or 4 years old at that time, my 2 youngest uncles always get a kick whenever I can sing his Kembara songs when they played their ‘guitar tongs’. As I was the only grandchild at that time, I was always the source of entertainment for my single aunties and uncles. So every little thing I could do was ooohed and ahhhed at, and well, let’s just say I played it to the music. 😛
I knew the song Gerhana by hard and they used to make me ‘perform’ on the bed in that front room, with my aunties laughing their heads off. On hindsight, I should have charged them for the cheap thrill. Needless to say, I grew up with on a staple musical diet of his works.
Through the years, I used to collect the then cassette tapes of his music, via my uncles of course. In junior college where I was a struggling Sastera student, I practiced my Practical Criticism paper using his lyrics. Of all the things I had to pack when I was leaving for university in Toowoomba, Queensland Australia, they were his CDs. Homesickness was cured by putting his song Raikan Cinta on repeats. In my adult life, I never missed his concerts. After all, me and him are, but countrymen and his concerts were usually astounding homecoming events for him.
Just now at the Anugerah event, he won the Seniman Sepanjang Hayat award. I couldn’t stop grinning. Almost ‘sepanjang hayatku’ I have grown up and now growing older through his music. When the going gets tough for me in a new place or land, the lyrics from his song Mantera Semerah Padi which goes like ‘ Di mana bumi dipijak, di situ langit ku junjung. Alang-alang menyeluk perkasam, biar sampai ke pangkal lengan!’ He rightfully manifested that part of the lyric in his life for he certainly have come a very long way from that youngster who used to take Bus No 13 and eat at ‘warung Wan Chu‘. He made his hijrah from our island home to be here, menjunjung langit di tempat bumi yang dipijak and go all the way out to where he is now. Indeed he is a sifu in his own right. A product we are all proud of… really.
Mahathir M. Nasir? ‘ 🙂