Yes. 2004 is a leap year. It leaps into an extra day. February has 29 days. February 29 is the leap day. Why a leap year with an extra day? Because a year is made up of 365.2425 days.

In every 4 years there would then be an extra day from the fractional part of 365.2425 days. The leap day is added to February to make it 29 days in a leap year.

For century years like 200, 300, 400, 500, 1000, 1200, 2000, only those divisible by 400 exactly were leap years, not just divisible by 4.

The Lunar Year of the Monkey too is a leap year. Like its arboreal Zodiac creature that leaps from tree to tree, the lunar year leaps into a 13th month for the year. Coincidentally, the leap month is an extra month for February an extra 29 days. Oh! this will be a long lunar year.

2004 divide by 4 = 501 exactly.
There's no remainder nor fraction.


The scene : a house in Kuantan
WE joined in the hustle and bustle in the house. I saw some real busybodies hanging two pairs of long pants above the doorway of the room where the bride with her friends were getting dressed and groomed. I inquired from an elder of the fuss of hanging the two pairs of trousers there. The pants were from the bride's elder brothers. It was the customs of the Chinese to do this because the bride was their junior. Being younger, she has to leave the house by going under the pants of her elder brothers. What a custom! But custom is custom and it is better to follow it than to do without.
Beware elders are around!! Gossips may abound.


Not long later, we heard the honking of horns from without. The entourage of the bridegroom had arrived. The bridal car drove up to the porch. The groom did not alight. This is another custom here. A younger male member of the bride's siblings must open the door of the car for the bridegroom to get down. Nobody else should open the door, what more the bridegroom himself.

The younger brother of the bride opened the car door and out stepped the bridegroom. He was dressed in a lounge suite holding a bouquet of flowers to be presented to his future wife. A best man accompanied him and there was also a madam - in- attendance. It was she who would give instructions as what to do for certain ceremonies. The other members of the entourage were seated at a table laid out with some refreshment for their use while they waited. 

The groom headed to the room where the bride was getting groomed. Her friends in the room immediately locked the door. The groom was made to beg for the door to be opened. He called and pleaded with the people inside to open the door and release his held-as- hostage bride. They answered back with some bickering and demands. For example, they asked for red packets or other tokens from the groom.

Finally, the groom had to negotiate through a window. When the negotiations were settled and terms agreed upon, the door of the room was opened. The groom rushed into the room. But no, the bride's friends demanded more.

They wanted him to kiss the bride and did other endearing tricks just to let the time tick by and to make all tickle and laugh splitting everybody's side. The groom was a great guy and he played for time and obliged to what they liked.

Groom and Bride

After about 10 minutes of dilly-dally and trickeries, finally the groom led the bride through the door under the two pants straddling above them. They were led to the hall. They stood in front of two chairs. The tea offering ceremony began.



First, the most elderly of the bride's family was seated down on one of the chairs. She was the bride's granny. The madam-in-attendance brought a tray with cups and poured some tea. She brought the tray near the couple.

Here there was a display of one's generosity. Granny took out a red packet from her pocket and pulled out the contents. A gold bracelet glittered into view. She fixed it to where it was due. Then the groom and the bride each offered a small cup of green tea to the grand old lady. She sipped a little of the tea from each and then gave a red packet to each. The red packet contained money.

After the grandmother, came the bride's father and mother. Yong Kwai Chan the bride's mother pulled out from her purse a gold necklace plus a locket and hung it round her daughter's neck. She was crying, probably because the daughter would be leaving her to enter her husband's household. The father of the bride Lim Ah Kuan brought out a wad of money and counted about 20 into the hands of the bridegroom and the bride. That was his present to them in cash. The groom and the bride offered Ah Kuan and Kwai Chan tea. After sipping the tea they ended the ceremony.

Other members of the bride's relatives took their turns to drink tea. All these ceremonies are actually shows to present things and money to the wife and husband- to- be.

When the whole ceremony was over, the groom led the bride out and into the car. On their way out, the bride's father held a red umbrella sheltering the bride from the elements. The umbrella bearer must be the father or an elderly male relative.


Again, the younger brother came and opened the car door. He got a red packet for the favour. Soon we were ready to drive off. They were heading to the bridegroom's house in Sungai Lembing. The missus and I boarded a Nissan Sentra driven by one of the groom's friend. A few other cars joined the bridal entourage. Lisa also drove her Kembara with Dana, Ten Soon and Pak Sang, a maternal uncle, as passengers.

The journey took about half an hour.  Finally we arrived in Sungai Lembing town. This was a half deserted place with empty shop houses and closed windows. It used to be a busy town when it was at its prime of mining activity. This was the place where the world's largest underground tin mine was found. Now it is a ghost town with only some elderly folks around.

We came to the bridegroom's house. It was a house built on stilts. On the way in, our chauffer named Ah Fong said Sungai Lembing was always inundated when it rains. Thus many of the houses were built on stilts or on the slope of hills. We had refreshment and snacks at the bridegroom's house. Here again, the tea drinking ceremony was also enacted for members of the bridegroom's family.

When the ceremony was done with, the groom called his buddies to bring us round the area around Sungai Lembing town. We were taken in three cars. They drove us round and round taking to the narrow one-vehicle routes. As the driver drove, we were told of certain landmarks. Our driver pointed out some big holes on the hillside. These were the holes when miners entered and then descended to the shafts inside the mine. The holes are now abandoned and overgrown with weeds overhanging the entrance.

We stopped just below a house perched on a slope with two furious Alsatians barking down at us. That was the place where a local resident has a good collection of crystal rocks. But the place was locked.  So our driver made a U-turn and we headed for somewhere else.

We came to a suspension bridge.  This bridge spans a shallow silted river. According to our driver, there were six of these bridges around, but some had been washed off by floodwaters and were no more found.

We all crossed the suspension bridge and came to a cluster of houses perched on the riverbank and hill slopes. There were a few shop houses here. Many of us enjoyed swinging across the suspension bridge including the six-year-old little Ten Soon. But there was a younger boy who cried while crossing it.

Oh yes! That reminds me what I have heard many elders said during my childhood days.

"If you don't share what you eat, you'll be afraid when you cross a bridge."

What a good piece of advice to entice a child to deter from that selfish gourmet vice.

We were taken round the whole area until we came back to the ghost town. Even when we had returned to the house, we set out again for the local museum.


The Sungai Lembing museum is situated on top of a hill. It was the former Sungai Lembing Pahang Consolidated Corporation Limited manager's bungalow house. According to the pamphlets of the place:

[" That mansion was converted to a museum by the Museum and Antiquities Department with the objectives of propagating the information and exhibiting the proofs of its history as well as Pahang. The town of Sungai Lembing lies 42 km. From Bandar Kuantan with the well-built road system. Visitors will be entertained with the spectacular knowledge on the subterranean tin mining which was once acknowledged as the largest subterranean mine in the world.

Historically, Sungai Lembing was a rich and famous town, as the main produce of tin in Pahang. It was called the El-Dorado in Tanah Melayu as situated a Village of English community here. The history of the tin mining here is believably started since the prehistorical period and was intensively managed by a British company, the Pahang Consolicated Company Limited started from 1906 till it's liquidation on 1986. "]
That's all the leaflet says.


We enjoyed free admission to the museum.  At the entrance were displayed two huge canister-like type of fire extinguishers on each side of the doorway.  They were mounted on iron wheels. According to the guard these are fire extinguishers that shoots out a brownish like liquid to extinguish fires.

We entered the museum and saw many exhibits belonging to the former mining industry. There were wooden machinery parts and ancient gadgets on display. Slabs of rocks weighing heavy and light were found in the showcases and easily accessible to our out-stretched hands. There were a series of the various generations of typewriters from the earliest clumsy contraption to the latest model, yet they are now all superseded by the computer. There were old clocks and other mining accessories


One Saturday afternoon, I got ready to drive out to visit Mr. Miles. I brought along two pomeloes and two mangoes. Down the road, I bought pastries from a Malay lady. I drove straight to the third miles to see Ted Miles.

The journey involved a U-turn just before the turning into Desa Damai.  For the road was busy being a Saturday evening, right.  Many people were returning from the city to breakfast with their families.   This was the month of Ramadan -the Muslims- fasting month.

My little hero of a Malaysian car scaled the rugged estate. The driveway appeared dark under the canopy of trees.  This being the season that we described as rainy. The sky was shrouded with dark rain-bearing clouds.

A whole family of canines ranging from puppies, mommies to the fatherly looking but shy Lucky came out to greet me. Those canines were just too friendly!

Our mentor opened the door. He had to shoo and push away the puppies that were trying to make a forced entry into the house.  We headed to the kitchen, our usual hangout.

I have brought something to fill our tummies. We ate noodles soaked in curry gravy. We devoured some Malay pastries. Our patriarch ate heartily. I could safely say he was as healthy as he could be.

Dog Waging Tail

Key to Success

One day our mentor made a trip down to KL city to attend a belated Deepavali party. He left his car at ESSO petrol station and a whole bunch of keys with Wong Yeng Kee. But when he came back in the evening, there was neither sign of Yeng Kee nor our mentor bunch of car and house keys.

So Mr. Miles waited and waited for Yeng Kee to bring back the keys. Yeng Kee only appeared when the sky began to pour heavily. Anyway, I was sure the downpour cooled down our mentor from his high adrenaline flow and washed away whatever tension and stress that the situation had created.


Well, Mr. Miles told me that one day he would have to be in Temerloh to attend court for probate - whatever that may be. But it had something to do in his capacity as the late Princes's trustees.

M E R R Y   X M A S  

Just as I was walking along an aisle in the Tong Fatt supermarket in Bentong, a tinkling-ting blasted off from my mobile. The call came from my buddy Wong Yeng Kee. He said that a crowd had gathered at Mr. Miles's house. He inquired when I would come around. "Give me ten minutes", that was what I sounded.

So after making the purchase of a gift, I drove up to the third mile to visit Mr. Miles.

Sure enough, people have thronged our mentor's house.There were Peter Cheong, Chan Siew Mun, Wong Yeng Kee, Yap Kim Hee, Lu Ah Ngan and her spouse P L Lau and son, Gary and his spouse Mary. I presented our mentor with the little but useful gift for his Christmas celebration. "MERRY CHRISTMAS" I greeted our patriarch.

Food-Quiche SO GOOD FOOD
There was a spread of food on the dining table. Well, I made my choice and filled my plate. Soon I was gulping down morsel after morsel of delicacies. I especially savoured the salad, meat and turkey.


I had a good chitchat with our buddies.  P L Lau especially talked of his hard times with the Communists in the 1950's. From his stories I realised that Bentong was not the most notorious of the black areas those days. The worst area was in Perak in a town called Pusing. The town was all surrounded by electrified wire fencing.

P L Lau saw his English teacher shot by the Communists in front of his own eyes. All agreed that the communists were agents of atrocity.  They meted out much cruelty on the local communities. Yet it was a part of history that has led us to this more enlightened and happy century, including those who once praised communist policies.  We are lucky to escape all those calamities and live up to this ripe age.

 Blue People


Later in the evening more guests came in. First came Balbir Kaur with her young and grown up ones. Sarjeet Singh, her spouse accompanied Ayah Samy in the latter's lorry. Ng Kam Thye and son Andy with his family drove up and brought some very well stuffed sandwiches. How do you know? Because yours truly tasted a piece. It was so delectable and filling indeed.

Iskandar brought along his spouse Anita for a good tuck-in. Later there also came Palainasamy and the Mahalingams. David Chinniah was with them around.





Inserted by :
Wife: W. Thanalechumy
Sons: Pukalenthi,
Son-in-law: Sivakumar
Daughter: Hema Latha

The deceased filial daughter
Hema Latha has sponsored this edition as a mark of respect for her late father S. Subramaniam.

 Book and Quill
Edited and written by Chan Suy Sang

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