from part 1…
As a few weeks went by, the students around the school would refer to me as ‘that budak kl’. People’s expectation were quite high. “Awak dulu main bola mesti wakil Wilayah kan?” the school’s football coach said to me when I spoke to him about my background. “Taklah..”before I could finish my sentence, he declared to the school’s team,”Ok kita nasib baik dapat seorang player wakil Wilayah tahun ni, tapi training mesti kena kuat lagi, sebab nanti main di tanah rendah nanti, cuaca lagi panas, takut kamu tak tahan”. With that, the team was dismissed. Some of the local boys began whispering around about me, “Besok, kita tengok budak ni tahan tak kena takik”. My ego was challenged, bring it on. “I’ll show you what this budak kl can do”, my ego answered.
Day 2, training session. I played my favourite position, the leftback. The coach was impressed, he wanted me to be in the first 11, some of the boys who planned to ‘takik’ me were taken aback by my resistance. “These calves are made of steel”, I thought to myself, stroking mr.Ego like Dr.Evil from Austin Powers stroking his cat. I was looking forward to joining the school’s team in the coming tournament, when my mother wanted to move to Gopeng. “Takde sape nak jaga rumah Opah, Wa”, she said to me. I stayed silent. Just when I was about to mix in the new environment, she wanted to move again. On the last day, I went for a walk at the garden near the school with my sister and one of my best friends there. I was not sure what my mother was looking for. I didn’t know the meaning of serenity, I didn’t know what kind of problems that adults had to deal with. I didn’t understand. I was feeling rebellious. I forgot what we were talking about whilst walking around the garden, but I knew suddenly a bunch of orang asli kids came out of nowhere and teased my sister, she cried and something inside me exploded. I ran towards one and wrestled him to the ground. I was punching around his face, his body when suddenly a big pair of arms pulled me away. “Hey jangan gaduh!” a man with an Indian accent shouted and shooed all the orang asli kids away. “Kamu tak baik pukul orang”, he advised me. “Diorang kacau adik saya”, I retorted. Then I cried. I didn’t hear what else he was saying as I was trying to gain control in between sobs. Trying to maintain the big brother that my sister always saw me as.
The day to move to Gopeng came. I loved that place. There were cashew trees, rambutan trees, bamboo trees, coconut trees, guava trees. You just name the fruit, my late grandfather probably planted them somewhere around the vicinity of the old house. It’s a typical double storey kampung house with a lot of trees around the house, a chicken coop, cats, endless tall tales from uncles, who were always making promises to take us kids to the river to fish, or to take us to the mountains to enjoy the freshest of water available in Gopeng but rarely did they stay true to their words. But it did ignite a little hope in my heart no matter how many times we were lied to.
A place where my mother spent most of her childhood, and her youth. A place she first learned of life and of love.
to be continued…
When I was about 9 years old, my mother copied the lyrics for this song and gave it to me. One of the first adult English songs that I learned. The other earlier one was Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven.