THE MESSAGE SEPTEMBER, 2005 NO.46
THE DR.ABU SAMAH BIN HJ.LABAK SERIES.
THE CHAN SHU FAN EDITION.
THEY COME ONE AFTER ANOTHER
ONE recent Sunday a stream of visitors called on our mentor. From early in the day, a lady
bound for Kuala Lipis passed by and visited him. I heard she was from Singapore some
relative of the late David Marshall. Remember a former Chief Minister of Singapore by that
name? His spouse was the early visitor.
A little later somebody called from Raub. This Kuala Lumpur lawyer did not know the estate
driveway up to Mr. Miles's bungalow. So our mentor walked down to the roadside and waited
for the guy. You know how long it takes for the Raub-Bentong drive? Just a mere 20 minutes,
Leong Wai Hong brought in his companion, Camala from the Federal capital. They were regular
readers of the Past Notes articles in the Sunday Times by our master before. It was the
first time they called. They were very attracted by our mentor's display of various kinds of
museum quality artifacts. The duo were fascinated by the strong timbers used in building the
bungalow a circa 1930 structure. They took in eyeful after eyeful of antiquated wooden beams,
rafters, floor planks, and ancient doors, queer hinged windows, and carved balustrades, etc.
They browsed through his books and admired his many weird collectables.
AMARDEEP GIVES A LUNCH TREAT
Mr.Miles again slipped down to the roadside to lead in another two people. Avinderjit Singh
came in with Amardeep Kaur. Avinder is on vacation from London but he is actually a former
Seremban resident. He has just escaped the horrors of the London bombings by the nick of
time. Amardeep Kaur is Harbans Singh's eldest daughter. She is a chip of the old block -
with an exact true facial impression of her father. She is tall (just one inch below her
father), very pretty, fair and friendly like her daddy.
It was past lunchtime but our tummies were still empty. Amardeep Kuar treated us to lunch
in a out of town restaurant. We were chauffeured to the 1st Mile eatery by our mentor.
We had rice vermicelli fried Cantonese style. Another platter of big noodles done Hokkien
fried. We also ordered sweet and sour meat. Then we had a platter of the famous Bentong
BENTONG FAMOUS FOR ITS KANGKONG
The last dish was Bentong's most famous veggie. This kangkong has crunchy and crispy stalks that
crumble and crackle in your mouth as you chew. As far as I know, there is only one farmer
who grows such top grade vegetable. Some Chinese periodical has done a good write-up on his
specialty. His kangkong is available in many of the town's eateries. When you come round
next remember to order local kangkong fried with belachan or plain fried with garlic.
THE SHIPWRECKED INTO MALAYA
While we were tucking in, Avinder asked why Mr.Miles came and stays on in Malaysia happily
ever after. This was the umpteenth time that he was posted the question. Our mentor
concocted an answer in jest, I guessed.
"I got on the wrong boat bound for Africa. But a gale broke the sail and I was shipwrecked
into Malaya." That was his latest answer. However, we noticed Mr.Miles flashed us the most
unconvincing and guilty spiked smile.
We all greeted his reply with a burst of head turning laughter. Ha, ha, ha........
Now over to you dear readers. Use your creative faculty. Just imagine a white man,
clothes in tatters, stumbling up a stretch of sandy shore in Malaya.
Not long ago, we call such new arrivals "boat people". Come on, that deserves another
round of hearty chuckles! Ha, ha, ha........
EXPLORATION AND SOME MONKEY BUSINESS
After lunch we returned to our patriarch's bungalow. Next, it was the jungle behind
Mr.Miles's abode that Avinderjit and Amardeep Kaur explored. They ascended the stairway
behind the bungalow. They trekked into the jungle. Who benefited most from their frolics
and follies? The very hungry jungle mosquitoes.
Later Anardeep clambered up a mangosteen tree. While steadily perched on the branches
she plucked the fruit as deftly as a monkey. Aided by Avinder she managed to fill a bag full
For me I was more attracted by the fruit dangling from a much parasite-plagued cempedak tree.
With a bamboo pole I managed to pluck several cempedak. The fruits are full of seeds. Flesh?
There is very little indeed. Though the taste is very sweet.
THE NO.1 STUDENT OF THE SCHOOL
Before we left another lady came to visit Mr. Miles. She was Hilda Ponnu from Sungai Marong.
This lady's connection with our already defunct school was very long. She was a student of
the then ACS Bentong. Later it became the M.E.S. According to the register, No.1 was her
enrolment number. o she was the school's very first student. Hilda graduated from the
school and later became a teacher too. Hey there, Hilda Ponnu!
I thought when Hilda left our mentor would sit back and relax. He would have said, "Phew!
What a day!" No, there came another gang of four. Happily our mentor cooked dinner for all.
While Santa, Anthea, Anita and Dara battled in scrabble Mr.Miles busied himself in the
kitchen to beat up a meal for five persons. Yum, yum! Then only to bed our patriarch
And, "phew! What a long tale".
I can imagine this time it's from you.
ONLY WILD BOARS WHY NO WILD SOWS?
ONE morning our mentor went for his usual jungle trek. You know what he met?
One of his neighbours. Hey, you may say his is a residence all isolated by jungles,
how come he met his neighbours?
You are right, but he met his neighbour of the four-legged kind. I beg your pardon for he
came face to face with a babi hutan. Nowadays, we are quite discreet in our language.
So let me call it a jungle peccary - a wild boar only. That's it.
Strange! All those long-mouthed and short-legged jungle peccaries are called wild boars.
Aren't there any females at all? Aren't there some wild sows among the herd? Then how come
the little squealing creatures are around? Boars bore them all? Impossible!
Discreet and sophisticated we are now in using language. If you visit the new markets and
look at the signage for the non-halal meat stall, what do you see? "Gerai Khinzir" of course.
So that four-leggged animal outlawed and outcasted by many of our brethrens is now called
"khinzir." "Khinzir" is more polite than the baneful four-letter word in Malay that is
considered profane and impolite and even offensive too.
Now back to our master's encounter. He and the slothful creature avoided meeting each other.
The animal, though a sizeable critter, gave way and ran off. Mr.Miles's canines barked and
gave chase. Their bark was more powerful than their bites.
The khinzir just dashed off into the bushes to hide.
NUISANCE FROM THE TREES
Talking of jungles, our mentor's backyard is just at the edge of the thick forest
overhanging with lush foliage. Sometimes wild creatures edge up to almost the kitchen door.
Outside there is a patch of cemented floor. This patch is never empty but always filled or
at least littered. With what? You may like to ask.
With fallen leaves. Blast it !
One afternoon as I sat and looked out of the door, this was what I saw. A little breeze
rustled the trees. The trees sprinkled leaves into the air. The falling leaves whirled and
swirled and swayed. They landed everywhere!
Good grief, the backyard was covered full with leaves!
"I just swept the place clean this morning," said our mentor.
"Now, it's filled with those darn leaves again", he commented.
In my mind I thought, "that's nature taking its own course."
POTTED PLANTS BATTLING INVADING WEEDS
Later I have a good look around his house compound. You know what I found? Pots and pots of
plants are struggling for survival.
Some flower plants in the pots are fighting with marauding weeds. In many a pot the
aggressors have overtaken the planted flowers.
Symptoms of their predicament: small yellow and sickly leaves stunted and knotted stems.
They bear no flowers and grow no seeds. The soil in the pots is parched and hard.
Malnutrition shows in many of their parts.
Only a few tough and hardy plants managed to eke out a precarious existence in the pots.
For example, there is a robust plant with chive-like leaves. The leaves are dark green and
little red purplish blooms shoot forth to show they have won the struggle for survival game.
Hurray, they are the fittest.
Another little plant with flowers and pods seem to bloom a lot. The seeds from the pods
scattered forth and they have grown into clusters around the ground.
There is a chili plant old enough to bear its natural fiery fruit. Alas! Only a few little
flowers were beginning to bloom. The leaves have a yellowish sickly anemic look.
The stem and branches are twisted, knotted and wrinkled. How pitiful.
Look at the batik cassava trees! Their stems are as thin as your little fingers.Only the
leaves are colourful and attractive! Certainly thin and slim for them is beautiful.
PLANTS DO NOT LIVE ON WATER ALONE
Actually, our mentor waters his plants regularly. Many a time when I called him he was
outside pouring water to quench their thirst. I guess he thought that's enough.
Me think he forgets that plants not only must be wet, they must also be fed. Those plants
seemed to have tasted no manure. Nor the soils loosen for the roots to breathe.
Hello great mentor! Where are your green fingers?
Else he could have turned his ample compound into a very nourishing plants nursery ground.
He could bring forth a garden. He could plant yams and potatoes, chilies, long beans, maize,
cucumbers, bitter gourds and many more.
Yet, it seems that his interest is not so much in gardening. Certainly, the compound is
ground to indicate that he is no farmer to dig to toil and to gambol with the soil.
HAIL STORM NEAR BENTONG
There was a day some time ago; an extraordinary hot and stuffy day in Bentong it was, so.
From my house in Bukit Chamang I could see white clouds gathering over the mountains.
All the way in the direction of Ketari and farther away dark clouds enveloped the firmament.
A DRIZZLE FALLS
By about three, the sun disappeared from the sky. A breeze swept through the town that you
know is situated in a flat valley. A drizzle fell though not significant at all. It couldn't
even wet the open ground. That was what I found in our mentor's house compound.
For just after the drizzle, I make a call.
A TWISTER IN SUNGAI DUA
The next day, I visited an elderly lady 10 miles away. Where? Sungai Dua that little village
on the Karak Highway (known as Karak Road those days). I was confounded by what I found.
Her house roof had flown away! What were left were the naked rafter beams shyly exposed to
the open sky!!
IT RAINS ICE AT THE 10th MILE
What had happened? According to her, there was a torrential downpour. She heard the most
unusual noise in all her life. It was like somebody pelting stones on her rooftop. It went
like "bang, bang, banG...." The village house-roofs are of corrugated iron sheets, of course.
Later when my nonagenarian relative looked outside, she had the shock of her life.
On the ground were pieces of ice. So with the rain descended also ice! Hailstones we call
them eh? The phenomenon is caused by a sudden drop of temperature in the vapour-saturated
atmosphere. This condition caused the rainwater on the way down to freeze to ice.
THEN CAME THE HURRICANE
A little later, a gust of strong wind swept across the village. It was a sort of twister.
The air swirled and twirled round and round. Oh my, the twister ripped off several housetops
and carried the roofs away flying in the air!
When I reached there the next day, villagers and officials were assessing the losses.
SECRET OF LONGEVITY
Talking of the elderly lady, though she is in her nineties she is still very active, fit and
most healthy. Her voice and her agile movement surprised me. How does she achieve and
continue her longevity? She thrives on her own homegrown veggies and congee daily!
Frugal life style? No. It's a recipe for longevity.
SCHOOL FEES HIKE IN THE PIPELINE
It was announced in the M.E.S.SAGE that there would be a hike in school fees in 1956 for all
schools in the Federation of Malaya under the Methodists.
The reason for the hike? To pay for routine increments for teachers' salaries. We know that
the salaries of teachers in these private schools - the unaided ones - come from the school
fees. And there was what we called introduced the E.P.F. for all workers.
What would be the new fees like? Very low indeed. Standards One, Two and Three $8.
Standards Four, Five and Six $9. Forms One and Two $10. Forms Three and Four $12.
Forms Five and Six $15.
The school was planning a concert before the end of the term. It would be an occasion to
entertain than to raise money. First there was formed a committee. One of the members was
yours truly. But I do not remember any contributions that I have made towards the concert,
either in kind or in money.
There was an announcement that there would be a procession to mark the offer of Amnesty.
You know Bentong was notorious for Communists. Though many have surrendered, but there were
still some hardcore communists roaming the jungle. They held on to their ideology and
refused to return to the normal society. So the procession would be held to encourage locals
to help the government to flush out the remaining terrorists. A very dangerous mission indeed.
DAVID POKES TO START A COLUMN OF JOKES
Hey, folks! I have to poke you for jokes. The idea comes from David Chinniah. He suggests
that I start a column on jokes particularly those ticklish incidents and anecdotes during
our school days. Very ambitious I would say! I name this column as
LAUGHTERS FROM READERS
HERE GOES ONE OF DAVID'S FUNNY ANECDOTE:
One day I was busy typing during a practice typewriting class. My eyes were glued to the
typewriting exercise from the book on my right. As usual, our mentor was walking up and down
the aisle of the typing room just behind his office.
When he came to my desk, he stood still. Through the corner of my eyes I noticed him
standing beside me. He said emphatically, "That's 100% concentration on the text, David".
I looked up. I saw him staring at my typewriter. When I directed my eyes following his
typical sharp hawk-eye gaze, I was red faced. I was typing on the naked carriage cylinder.
I had forgotten to feed the typewriter with paper! What a blunder!! - David Chinniah.
Yes, anyone of you could contact me if you remember any hilarious anecdotes.
The hostel boys would have a lot to brag about jokes. Ghosts stories for example, and how
they outwitted our master in many matters.
Could you call me and have a chitchat about this and that? Narrate a story over a cup of tea.
Or just be impersonal and
I will turn your jokes into darn funny stories. Believe me!
WE FIND A GREAT FAN IN CHAN SHU FAN
ONE day, Chan Shu Fan met our mentor. After a brief talk of all and sundry, Shu Fan was glad
to hear of our newsletter - the MESSAGE. "Please, send me a copy", said he.
Shu Fan was not a student of M.E.S. He was among the first few people who met and helped
Mr.Miles when our mentor arrived. He gave Mr.Miles a helping hand of getting things going in
the almost dying ACS then - the infant M.E.S.
After I have got Shu Fan's request for a newsletter from our mentor, immediately I sent him
a copy. Thenceforth, I always let him have the MESSAGE.
One day when we met Shu Fan complimented me saying, "Suy Sang you can write". To me what is
more important is not to receive compliments. It's you like what I write is of paramount
importance. Thank you for your compliment, Shu Fan.
Shu Fan is now a great fan of the MESSAGE. One evening he rang me.
"I'll be a sponsor," he agreed. Within three days his cheque arrived.
That's why his name graces the header of this edition. Shu Fan, great fan, many thanks.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE FOLLOWING IN SEPTEMBER
||LAI KIM CHOO
||ZAINAL B. HJ.HASSAN
||LOKE MOOI THYE
||ABDUL WAHAB AB. RAHMAN
||HONG CHEE SET (RONNIE)
||DORIS LOW AH MOY
||WONG SUI KONG
||WONG KIM FOO
||CHAN SUY sANG
||HO CHIN CHING (DR)
||YAP KIM HEE
||TAN KOW KHIEH
||WONG SWEE YONG
||HO MEI YOON
||WONG THIN CHING
||YAP NEW CHYE
VALUED FANS ! HEED OUR CALL.
BE OUR NEXT SPONSORS.
RM 100 TO GRACE AN EDITION. FOR HEADING A SERIES PLEASE SEND MORE.
& FOLKS, DON'T FORGET TO SEND IN YOUR JOKES.
THOUSANDS OF THANKS TO DR.ABU SAMAH WHO ROLLER COASTERS US THROUGH THE SERIES.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH CHAN SHU FAN FOR SPONSORING THIS 46TH EDITION
Pick a MESSAGE from the top left column to read.
You'll be entertained no matter which edition you choose !!
Remember to come back SOON for more NEW and INTERESTING MESSAGES uploaded every month !!
You had just read MESSAGE 46