THE MESSAGE NO. 119 OCTOBER 2011
THE ANONYMOUS LADY'S SERIES
HOW WE CELEBRATED EID
Today was the Eid or Aidil fitri, the first day of the month of Syawal according to the Muslim calendar. It is the great festival in our country. I was back in Bentong to enjoy the festive holidays. From morning, I had the thought of visiting some Muslim friends to see how they fare. But the mood was not with me. Normally, I would visit with our mentor. But when I called upon him the yesterday, Dato' Ted Miles said he was expecting visitors from the city. Plus he looked frail and could easily get fatigue. My missus had gone to see her relatives. Even till late afternoon I was not sure if I would go visiting.
Then I received a call from William Joo. He had come up to Bentong bringing along his life partner too. That was great, I thought. I immediately suggested that we would visit our Muslim schoolmates on the second day of the festivities.
On the second day of Eid, William, Nancy his missus, myself and my missus breakfasted together at the restaurant above the wet market in Bentong. We had good tucking-in session where we consumed noodles and dim sum. After that William drove to my house to deliver some papaya and chilly seedlings that he had nurtured into ready to plant saplings for me. He is such an avid gardener you see. He had learned much from a professional who had tended plants for the royalty.
Soon we were on our move for visiting. First we went to Haji Munzir's well-embanked house in Sungei Marong. Why embanked? Munzir had built a three-foot concrete and well-tiled wall round his house. To enter his house, we climbed three steps and then descended three steps to be inside his house. Why the embankment? It is for flood prevention. You know Sungei Marong is a flood prone housing area. For Haji Munzir, his house had been flooded umpteen times in the past. Once the whole family had to climb up to almost the roof to escape the floodwaters. So Munzir used his ingenuity to let the flood come, but not into his house.
William Joo was so happy to meet his long lost schoolmate after a lapse of more than three decades. They had a non-stop chit-chat especially William who is a born conversationalist. He could talk and talk non-stop on any topics or on no topic at all. Words and phrases, sentences and quotations seemed to rolled out of his mouth like a dragon spitting fire. To have a visit with him, you have got to be a good listener. Not only that you have also to be an excellent decipher, otherwise his ideas would just gleamed your ears! An hour past fast for him. We tucked in lemang and rending (the former is glutinous rice cooked in bamboo and the latter beef and chicken dried curries). Of course, there was the sticky very sweet pudding we called dodol and a variety of local fares.
I called another old schoolmate, Mokhtar Mat Piah. Unfortunately, he was then not available at home. He had gone visiting to another kampong.
However, we managed to catch hold of Samsudin Salleh. He is the blue-eye boy of our mentor. Why? He was the specimen of a Malayan that the Principal brought to the United States to show to his countrymen in the late 1950s. Samsudin lived with his family in a modest house in this elite community.
We drank and ate again downing cups after cups of Milo and many variety of biscuits and pastries. Samsudin and his missus excused themselves for not supplying us with rending (dried meat curry). But we were not there to savour rendang. We had already had our fill of that dish at the former host Haji Munzir's house!
Why no rendang at Samsudin's? This was the second day of the festivities and they and their guests had gulped down all the rendang! Gulped down! Yes, according to Samsudin's missus their rendang was so special that everybody who visited them would gulp down quite a bit. It was a case of instant demand that caused the shortage in supply. And Samsudin's missus cooks rendang the Negeri Sembilan way! Why so special about it. It is the Minangkabau cooking.
Samsudin had been working in various state government departments mainly dealing in forestry. According to him the working of the government was not so centralised those days. Local officials had quite a lot of clout like giving land to applicants. But those days there were not many such greedy people who practised land grabs!
After a long chitchat that seemed to have no end, we bade farewell to the loving couple. In town we settled the ladies in their most liked haven Ė a boutique with lots of beautiful garments. William and I drove over to our mentor's bungalow. We grabbed hold of spades and hoes. We started to dig two big holes. To bury some bodies or carcasses! No, we wanted to plant and raise some paw paw trees.
WE CALL ON PETER CHEONG
16th September, 2011
Early morning I drove to pick up William Joo. He was waiting for me, too. Thenceforward, we proceeded to Seri Kembangan. I forgot the way and took a U-turm back from Subang Jaya. Then I hit the LDP until I passed all the Puchong housing areas. Soon we were in Seri Kembangan. I drove William straight to Peter Cheong's residence.
No, he was not in or at least we thought. Moreover, we were an hour early in arriving. Too early to surprise our buddy.
So we lingered and went to have a bite at a coffee shop. It was there that I tasted some very delicious fried noodles. The secret. I picked that out from the food. They used deep-fired lark to stir-fry the noodles. Those pieces of fried lark were still crispy to the palate.
I called Peter again. He took the phone and so we headed for his house. Peter Cheong's two best friends created a row with their growls. His long-time maid came out and led us in. The canines were disappointed of being robbed off their chances to sink their fangs into our shanks.
"Hello buddies", Peter Cheong hugged and greeted William and me.
Those who know Peter might ask, "How is he?"
Well, he is well. But of course, Peter has changed. Ladies you would envy, if I tell thee. He has shed quite a bit of weight lately. His face is still bright, but his arms are no longer muscular nor flabby. He could stand firm and walked steadily.
We sat down and chitchatted away. William was quite happy to meet his once very good buddy. They had actually once parked themselves under the roof of a garage, nocturnally to snore away fatigue from their bodies. No man could work round the clock see! That was their den when they first ventured to KL to look for fortune, then.
So the conversation delved into their past and lives years ago. Well, those days the ghetto of bachelors cooked their own food. Each member of the single community was to cook up a menu. When it came to his turn to fix a meal, Peter feigned cooking. What a deal. He bought canned food, heated them up and served his cohorts of starving bachelors. Yet, they lapped up all that was spread. People say beggars have no choice. And, here they experienced hungry people had no voice!
From their conversation, I learnt that Peter is a person who was prone to take risks. He could not stand his bosses nor tolerate office politics. So he was not prepared to work his way up as an employee. He hopped jobs until he broke off on his own. He did sales and then ventured into business. Till his last vocation he had established himself trading in humans. What? It is a perfectly decent business of providing domestic helps and labour for factories and industries. He is in the foreign worker recruitment business, see. Of course, he does no business now. His foreign workers agency has been usurped by his daughter and his spouse.
Peter is now under dialysis. Three times a week he has to go to cleanse his body. Exactly, he has to detoxify his blood mechanically to enable him to be able to kick and mooch around. OMG!The expenditure comes to quite a hefty amount.
On the other hand, William Joo Shek Phin branded himself as an anti-risk taking individual. He started working in a shipping company and stuck to the organisation for 35 long years. He slaved and slogged himself upwards from the lowest rung of the long and tedious corporate staircase till he ended up as an executive.
He kept his position as he worked more than he was supposed to. He put in extra hours, made more efforts and even did the work of his superiors. That type of employee pleased his boss and so every time the boss wanted to kick out employees, William Joo escaped the boot. Instead many a time he was flung upstairs. That was the rewards of a hardworking and loyal employee in a European company. Slow and steady like the legendary tortoise, William worked his way up the corporate staircase. Hooray! He won the race. But then age made him fell from the company's grace!!
After bragging for an hour and more, I sensed that Peter was famished as he fidgeted rather uneasily. So I suggested taking him out for a bite. He had actually had that in mind. Then Peter confessed that he craves chicken rice. William poked in asking me, "when ordering chicken rice, what you should ask for?" I said, "I donít know."
"Ask for kai yee toh," William answered. Peter dittoed.
"What's that? I've been eating chicken rice for years, but I don't know what you two are yakking about." I said.
"Kai yee toh, the second lower portion of a chicken. It is that part under and between the thighs. That's the best part of the bird, soft and tender, right." (I beg your pardon. It's 'below' the thighs. Chickens are unlike humans. For chickens, below the thighs is best. Between the thighs is the breast, very meaty and voluptuous with flesh.) One buddy explained and the other yapped in. I saved the info in my brain.
So I drove William and Peter out to tuck into a lunch of chicken rice. Peter walked out on threes and had to be helped into my jalopy. For petty sake! Were we taxing him too much by dragging him out? No, we did not think so. He should be treated as normal. We felt that a little sunlight would improve his already pale complexion. We opined that some movement might also strengthen his frail body. These actions are buddies' duties! Presumably.
We tucked into a good meal with chicken, bean sprouts, trotters cooked in black vinegar and char siew or meat barbecued. I noticed Peter Cheong enjoyed a hearty meal. That should be the attitude! He ate more than William and me. After sending Peter back to his house, we bade him adieu!
"ADIEU, ADIEU, ADIEU
That could be what the last words Peter Cheong had said to me and to you. For on the first of October, I received from his wife, Susan, this sad news:
Dear all, Peter Cheong was called home to be with the Lord on 1st October, 2011. Wake services will be held at: XIAO EN BEREAVEMENT CARE SDN. BHD. NO. 1 JALAN KUARI, CHERAS, KULA LUMPUR. FROM 1ST TO 2ND OCTOBER, 2011. AT PARLOUR 5.
I forwarded the bad news to as many MES alumni as possible.
I went to the wake service on the second night and there were Wong Yeng Kee, Lee Kim Thye.
John and David Chinniah were there during the day.
The funeral service was held in the morning of 3rd of October, 2011.
OUR DEEPEST HEART-FELT CONDOLENCES AND SYMPATHIES TO THE LATE PETER CHEONG'S WIFE, HIS SON AND THREE DAUGHTTERS AND OTHER MEMBERS OF HIS FAMILY IN THEIR BEREAVEMENT. MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PEACE.
Remember the late Peter Cheong? You should have savoured turkey at Dato' Ted Miles annual Christmas parties. For years the late Peter Cheong had brought in the X'mas signature bird cooked and well stuff all ready for the table. That was he! Remember Peter Cheong; remember turkey at our yearly X'mas reunion party.
WHAT HAPPENED THIS MONTH 50 YEARS AGO
There were games, conference, visitors and a host of other activities reported. People
mentioned in Ted Miles diary were: Tengku Baharin, John Chinniah, Dzulkifli, Shukri, Seng Fook, Tengku Ibrahim, Tengku Jamaluddin, Kenneth, Samium, Muthu, Lingam, Vesian, Kanagaraj Daniel, Shafie, Mathew, Samah, Teck Wai, Hassan, Rahman Umat, Ampusadchy, Razlan, Rahman Osman, Sunny, Lee Kam, Zainal, Zamri, Samuel Issac, Lingam, Yee Lee, Vicknasan, and Abdul Rahman b. Yeop Sendiri
GOOD-BYES, THEY TOO HAVE EXPIRED
Two other Mesians made their exit from this our good earth. First Wong Mun Seong made an untimely exit on the 26th of September at the University Hospital. He succumbed to a brain surgery due to internal haemorrhage.
WE WISH TO EXPRESS OUR HEART-FELT SYMPATHIES AND CONDOLENECS TO the late WONG MUN SEONGíS FAMILY IN THEIR BEREAVEMENT. WE ARE SO SAD TO LOSE A VERY FRIENDLY, GENEROUS AND PHILANTROPIC MESIAN. MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PEACE.
It was Zainal Lisut who informed me of the tragedy early in the morning of 26th September. Mun Seong's daughter Ivy informed him of her fatherís demise. Mun Seong and Zainal were good buddies, for it was Mr. Lisut senior, Zainal's father who saved Mun Seong's father from the sword of the Japanese.
During the Japanese rule in Malaya in World War II, the Japanese wanted to capture Mun Seong's father to be beheaded. Zainals father informed Mun Seong's father to go into hiding. So he escaped. To this day Mun Seong's family is grateful for the good deeds of the Lisut family. Wonderful story of national unity among ethnic diversities, isn't it?
Some of us should remember the late Wong Mun Seong who used to entertain us with Christmas Eve lunches at the Rest House Bentong and at Chinese restaurants. Farewell, Wong Mun Seong.
My family and I went for the wake at the Nirvana Bereavement Centre in Jalan Sungai Besi. We met and consoled a very distraught Mun Seong's wife and their two daughters caused by the suddenness of his demise.
Then there was also our ex-school clerk who had long served the school in the 1950s and l960s. Remembered him with the curly hair and a replica of the principal in matters dress from head to toes? He too had kissed the dust and exited so fast.
OUR CONDOLENCES AND SYMPATHIES TO THE LATE BALA'S NEXT OF KINS. MAY HIS SOUL REST IN ETERNAL PEACE.
Look how our fraternity is dwindling in numbers. Feel happy that we are still around and enjoying life safe and sound.
For those who have lost their dear ones, cheer up and pick up again for life has to go on. Let nature and fate take their own course. Make the best use of the opportunities that come our way. That is what some wise men say. Okay! Let's change tone now, for happy and festive days are coming and lighting up our way.
HAPPY DEEPAVALI VALTHUGAL.
WHERE TO GO?
VISIT SOME SRI LANKIANS, MALAYLEES, BENGALIS, PUNJABIS AND TAMILS. CHITCHAT WITH THEM WHILE FILLING YOUR TUMMIES WITH ALL THOSE SPICY AND CRUNCHY GOODIES.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE FOLLOWING IN OCTOBER
||ABDUL HALIM HJ. OTHTMAN
||BARBARA REID JEPSON
||BUKHARI HJ. MAAROF
||OW WAI KING
||LIM PAK HENG
||CHEW TEE KAN
||LIM SWEE CHOO
||TAN SOON SENG
||CHAN SEE YUEN
||WONG YENG KEE
||CHAN KAM SWEE
||RICHARD LOW QOOI TEE
||ABU SAMAK LABAK
||HILDA PONNU (MRS CHOONG)
||SONNY LAM PHAT CHEE
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