Sehr Gut Ja !

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.

So, ‘Siapa Mahathir M. Nasir? ‘ 🙂

Catch Phrase

Was just reading The Star on the interview with Tun Salleh Abbas. The 79 year old former Lord President, now farming in his hometown in Besut, Terengganu gleefully told The Star reporter that he was the one who coined the phrase ‘ Crime of Passion‘ and ‘Toothless Bulldog‘ back in 1957 during a court hearing of a murder case.

I’ve read the term ‘crime of passion’ quite a few times before this in articles. Only now then I know who coined it. But really, between the two, I like the second one better. In my life’s journey, recently or otherwise, I have come across some ‘toothless bulldogs‘, men-undeniably ( if women, can I coin the term clawless bitches? please ? heh 😛 ) mostly at work. Now that I know this term, somehow, if faced with such characters again, I won’t be able to keep a straight face. I have a very hyperactive imagination, you know?

What’s that word again?

It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon and I am in no mood to do anything but lie down since I am feeling under the weather. Attempted to watch Sex and The City serial. My first time watching an episode of it and I find it..errm.. boring?

Yeah that’s the word I’m looking for.

M is for Mother

The theatre was half filled, much to my surprise. I was alone. The husband was somewhere in the cafe outside trying to finish his readings so he could do his term paper. Armed with caramel popcorn and ice-milo, I was ready for another Iranian film. My 3rd for this year’s festival.

Of all Iranian films I’ve watched, M is for Mother is the first that the setting is not in some remote village or some ghetto. Set in swanky modern day homes, it tells the story of a rich diplomat couple, where the wife was once exposed to chemical weapons in the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran war. Now in present time where she got pregnant, the gynae diagnosed that her unborn child would not be born physically normal due to the chemical present inside her body pre-conceiving. Her husband, who by then is a diplomat with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, unable to accept that a high flying diplomat like him would be a father to a ‘frankenstein baby‘ forced his wife to abort the baby, although she is already 4 months pregnant. It couldn’t happen as instead of being 4 months pregnant, she was already 6 months into her pregnancy.

And the story went on about the trials and tribulations of the mother, raising her ‘special’ child alone after being divorced by her husband who was unable to deal with the fact that a diplomat like him could have a child not up to his standard.

The movie was a bit slow and a bit melodramatic. But the men around me teared. Awhhh. There was an old Chinese man sitting in front of me and he removed his glasses periodically to wipe his eyes. A middle aged man on my left whom I caught wiping his face with his sleeve several times and the elderly couple on my right whose wife was sniffling all the way. I shed many tears myself. Maybe the film touched each person in a different way.

Picture taken from here.

I once had a discussion with a friend here about both of our childless status. She shared with me that she and her husband tried for 6 years– going for every conceiving technology available in the medical market now, to no avail. They then began to realise that they can try and try but ultimately, it’s the ONE up there who decides if it is time for them to have one. She became resigned to the fact that maybe if she does get a child, it may not be a child that they can handle or having to sacrifice something huge in return, so she and her husband decided that it’s just best to let HIM decide as and when, since they tried everything already.

The film reminds me of my friend and of course, ourselves. Just like the couple in the film, we have been waiting for the stork to come for a visit but so far, no sight of their flapping wings bringing the bundle of joy. But now after the film I think it’s ok. I’ll wait. We’ll wait. He knows when we are ready… Like my friend said, what if the thing we want so much is not something we can handle?

The Language

This morning I made a my first trip to Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.

Somehow, eerily I must add, the lyrics of the song from the Perkhemahan Bahasa and Budaya, which I attended way back when I was in Primary 6 crept into my mind. With it, came the memories of that camp. That was yonks ago, at Camp Christine back in my hometown. I remembered that was the year they officially launch the Bulan Bahasa dan Budaya to be carried out as an annual event. It was memorable because only 2 students from each primary school throughout the island were selected to go for this camp and it was then that I had my first taste of social networking with students from other primary schools.

Oh we had fun! We played traditional games like batu selembat, congkak and capteh. We had the hilarious tarik upih competition. We had pesta pantun and syair competitions. The camp officials, who were actually cikgu-cikgu Bahasa Melayu from all over the island engaged us in activities which we would not have experienced in our day to day life as city dwellers.

It was also at that camp that we had a pair of brothers Nur and Adee who were camp volunteers teaching us Malay songs. They went on to become well known duet singers Nuradee in later years. The most hilarious piece of memory I had of that camp back then was the dikir barat performance we had to perform for the Guest of Honour on the last day of the camp. We were 12 years old. We played no traditional musical instruments. Brothers Nur and Adee brilliantly taught us to do dikir barat using pots and pans and basins. Lo and behold, it was a hit and we were in Berita Harian for it! 😛

Today as I walked through the lanes of books at Dewan Bahasa bookstore, the lyrics of the song just played in my mind. It has not left me. It is still playing although it has been hours since I left the bookshop with my loot of Malay story books meant for students who came up with Kera bin Monyet sentences.

Lagu Bulan Bahasa


Mari bangsa ku mari saudara

Kita gunakan bahasa bunda

Sebagai lidah penggugah rasa

Cinta bahasa cinta budaya


Demi cinta kepada budaya

Kita penatar bahasa bunda

Bahasa maju budaya jaya

Maruah bangsa terpelihara


Cintailah bahasa ibunda

Cintailah budaya pusaka

Bahasa yang menjunjung budaya

Budaya nilai maruah bangsa

Word has it, many years down the road now, the song is still the same and the camp is still going on annually…

The story of a kera

The term to use is vomit blood. Really.

Teaching BM tuition has tested my patience far worse than trying to anyam ketupat which I am undeniably hopeless in. After this, I thought things would improve. But, I was wrong.

For Karangan, my two Primary 4 tuition students had to write a story based on the title Seekor Kera Di Dalam Hutan. A creative writing piece. The only problem is,  that they don’t even know what a kera is. Yeap…KLite kids, English speaking homes. Malays. Don’t know a kera from an orang utan. Everything is monyet to them.

They asked, ‘ Cikgu.. Monkey kan Monyet. Kenapa panggil Kera??’. So there I was trying to explain that kera is a species of a monyet. A type of monyet I told them. They looked like they got it. And so I thought. Then earnestly, one of them, as if trying to display his understanding, said the darnest thing that made me exhale deeply, really. He said,

” Oh.. I know I know.. so you mean it’s like Kera bin Monyet lah is it? ”

God, please help me.

Mama’s Guests

Last night I watched another Iranian Film, Mama’s Guests. A comedy, quite simply made but with a message so deep I almost teared. Almost, as I was also tearing from laughing so hard.

Pictures taken from here.

I remember this quote from the film.

” Be careful with the rice. Take care of the rice. When you take of the rice all the other dishes will fall in place..’ It may not mean anything to anyone who doesn’t watch the film but the context where it was said in the film cuts deeply. And teach far and beyond as well.

Jangan Bedek

Where I come from, the term ‘jangan bedek‘ is literally translated to ‘don’t bull‘. When you tell someone ‘jangan bedek‘, it roughly means ‘don’t bulls**t’. It’s very different from the word bodek‘. Here in Malaysia the word bodek refers to the action of ‘curry favour’- the action of gaining favour by fawning or flattery. Bodek, in my hometown is a very very crude word referring to a certain part of the reproductive anatomy. In fact, I get goosebumps writing this word down here as I won’t even say it out in normal circumstances. It’s too crude. So imagine how startled I was when I heard the word bodek used on national tv here? But since I am writing from the land where the word bodek means a different thing, I seek pardon from anyone reading this from my hometown. 😛

But it is not bedek or bodek I want to write about here. It’s ‘jangan bedek‘.

I have been following the news of a certain limping prisoner, who managed to escape the detention centre during his toilet break. This happened on a sunny island set in the sea. Where the people are shown to be super efficient, where the government is shown to be squeaky clean, where the crime rate is amongst the lowest in the world and the oh so tight security where everywhere is bugged. And is it not the place where they have direct connections with the Big Brother of the land of Cola Cola Imperialism and their sophisticated intelligence network?

The sunny island set in the sea is all but 647 km2 big. The national service men and all of their defence units have been deployed to search every inch of the island. After reading anything and everything I can get online pertaining to this issue, be it from the island itself or overseas online newspaper, I somehow find the whole issue very dodgy, to say the least.
Questions that played in my mind:

  1. How can one limping man escape the thorough combing of the whole island by the ever vigilant Police Force, NS Army, the Civil Defence unit, the coast guards, all on a 647 km2 island?
  2. If indeed he is not caught, how can he survive hidden? The island has no cave not unknown by the authorities. The island has no mountains but err.. a hill for joggers, amateur trekkers and picnic-goers?
  3. The search for him started immediately when he was discovered missing, so could he limp his way to the nearest beach, unnoticed by anyone, any coast guards who have been alerted minutes after the discovery that he was missing and swam away?
  4. If this is the ‘garmen’ idea of a joke, which they hardly do to begin with, is it worth it the massive jams at the checkpoints holding up traffic for hours?

Some years back I watched Farenheit 911 and Bowling for Columbine by Michael Moore. So is my skepticism unfounded? The fact that a mentor minister came out and gave a statement about it being a complacency on the defence part on its own very dodgy. Ya right. I mean, you have a quite a good education system and you expect the product of that not to think?

Jangan bedek lahhhh.

I have been tickled by so many theories that came out of it, and also the parody Toilet Break by fellow netizens. The other day, I saw the husband reading H.G Well‘s Invisible Man, and I told him, maybe this toilet break fugitive is invisible, no? But my husband being him came up with counter theory. The fugitive being a Javanese probably used ‘Rukya‘ to travel across lands ala Wali Songo. Ahaks… that’s funny. 😛

The Toilet Break Fugitive

Hai Mas…mas… Selamat lah kau!

A beautiful mind(s)

In my life as an educator, I have had, under my care 2 dyslexic boys. One in the past. The other one in this present time.

The one in the past let’s call him S.L. I got him from the time he was 10, 11, and 12 years old back in the school I was teaching years ago. If my calculations are right, he should be 17 years old this year. At 12, he couldn’t read. He couldn’t even spell simple words properly. He could not do maths work in class. Basically academically, he is a no-go.


He got an acute sense of logic. There were many instances where he pointed out simple things which didn’t even cross the minds of straight A students. Once, after a class excursion, when all the kids rushed off to the entrance of the bus and started to push and shove their way up, he yelled at them’

“Hoy ! U all think you get in bus faster like that ah? Line up properly lah then everyone go up faster liddat!!” In his ‘Ah Pek English’, a term which he himself coined ( ‘eh cher, i speak englrish like ah pek hor… sorry lah cher my fater mater dunno speak englrish one. I go school then I learn. So sound like Ah Pek lor’ — cher is of course, our lingo, the short for ‘Teacher’ ).

And some other simple things which I myself didn’t think about, like the proper way of stacking books so it won’t drop or rearranging the classroom furnitures to create more space. Or the best way to shoot baskets during PE lessons. And he can dance ! Boy can he dance. During the period where Para-Para dance was a hit with teenagers, he was my John Travolta. That year I was given the task of organising the Children’s Day concert and guess who was my choreographer ? 😛

One day, when he was 12, the year he should take his primary school leaving examination, I asked him, ‘ S.L, what do you want to be when you grow up?‘ With so much pride, he told me, with a huge grin on his face’ You know ah cher, later I grow up I want to be Dulian King ! I know where to get suppelierr for Dulian. XO Dulian ok. Later you buy Dulian from me I sure give you discount one..! Then hor, my free time I dance lor. Go CC ( community centre ) there and teach dancing-dancing. You want to learn also can. Now you teach me later I teach you lar! ‘ Obviously, this conversation remained etched in my mind. Probably forever. I have lost touch with him since I moved out of the country. My only hope is that one day I would buy durian from him, even if I myself do not eat durians.

The second one, A.H , the one I am currently homeschooling is about 1o years old. He is still struggling with Peter and Jane books and maths sums take him forever to do.


His art and paintings speak volume. My little Picasso I called him and he grinned a thousand smiles. And he is also very good at gardening too! So like any teacher would, I asked him, ‘ A.H, what do you want to be when you grow up?’ and without thinking twice, he said ‘ Oooh nanti besar kita nak jadi penggali kubur !’

I was startled of course. Never in my years of teaching I got a penggali kubur as a desired ambition. I asked him why and in a matter of fact manner, he said ‘ Kesian kan orang yang dah mati… kalau kita jadi penggali kubur, kita boleh baca-baca doa lepas tu tanam dia… kerja senang jer..’

When I told his mother, she told me he has been having that ambition since he was younger because he saw his grandmother being buried.From that day on, he resolved to be a penggali kubur. He said he felt pity for the dead and wants to be the person to read prayers for them at their graves, since he knows he is not actually a pro at reading and writing or counting for that matter. And he told me one thing I can never forget ‘ Kawan-kawan kita satu pun tak mau jadi penggali kubur. Nanti orang tua semua mati siapa nak tanam? ‘

Err… hmm.

Yesterday I got a call from another parent, whose child is a friend of the penggali-kubur wannabe. Her child is also dyslexic and certified low IQ and carry around with him the OKU ( orang kurang upaya ) green card issued by the Kementerian Kesihatan. She is a high flying career mother. She called, asking if she can learn how to home school a child from me as she has decided to fore go her career, to be a SAHM and be with her special son. Her son told her since he can’t read and write, he wants to be a chef. And she wants to help him realise his dream. After all, she said, HE gave her this son and he is smart in his own ways, although that way is not the academic way.

I told her she’s doing something beautiful.

Really… these kids have beautiful minds, which many of my straight A students in the past never quite come close to. In fact, sometimes I feel and observed that they are just functioning information/fact machines which vomit textbook contents all out during examinations. And for that, society call them ‘smart‘.


The first Iranian film I watched was Children of Heaven, back in the year 2000. It was about two siblings, who shared a pair of shoes. The brother would wear the shoes to school in the morning as he’s in the morning session, ran back home immediately after class so that his sister can wear that same pair of shoes to school for her classes in the afternoon session.

Back then, I was teaching in a school where 50% of the students came from high income families and the rest higher middle income families. I remembered how I was so affected by that film that the next day, I narrated the film to all my classes, to those children who not only do NOT have to share shoes, but who can afford to buy 4 pairs at one go.

Since that day, I have been a faithful follower of Iranian films. Back in my hometown they have the annual International Film Festival and surprisingly, Iranian films proved quite a hit with my countrymen with full houses in most screenings. The other film that I remembered very well was ‘I’m Taraneh, 15’, which precedes Juno in dealing with issues of teenage pregnancy.

The thing I like about Iranian films is that it usually centres around a very simple plot presenting the day to day life of the laymen in the Iranian society. However, from that simple plot stems the most profound branches of themes and issues of the Iranian community and the different facets of their lives.

Just now I watched ‘Hayat’. The Iranian Film Festival is going on here in conjunction with the Nauruz festival, the Iranian/Persian/Afghanistan New Year.

Hayat is a 12 year-old girl who lives with her family in a beautiful village. The night before a school exam, her father falls gravely ill and is taken to the hospital. Hayat is forced to look after her infant sister on the most important day of her life. Hayat tried to make it to school through a series of heart wrenching comedy of errors. On many occasions, I had to control myself from verbalizing my frustrations at watching her having to go through all the challenges just to get someone to watch over her baby sister for an hour so she could sit for her final exams–her ticket to the boarding school in the city if she passes it. It was heart-wrenching to see her determination to go against the social norms of her village, just for the sake of continuing her education in a society where her neighbor refused to cooperate by looking after her baby sister because Hayat should be at home ‘learning how to knit, cook and do embroidery’

Since 2001, I have been buying season tickets to watch international films back in my hometown during the International Film Festival. I must say that none have managed to give me the same impact as the Iranian films. Even local film maker Yasmin Ahmad‘s work, to me is not up to their level.