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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, right!

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 kangkong belachan.


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

Big Ship

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 of mangosteens.

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 slumped.

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

Green Tree Green Tree Green Tree

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

Plant In Basket Plant In Basket Plant In Basket

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

Red Flower Open Left Red Flower Open Left Red Flower Open Left Red Flower Open Left

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
Rolling On The Floor Laughing

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.
Black Phone Ringing

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 e-mail me. 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

Birthday Cake - Green


No.
NAME
BIRTHDAY
1
LAI KIM CHOO
SEPT 1
2
ZAINAL B. HJ.HASSAN
SEPT 1
3
LOKE MOOI THYE
SEPT 3
4
ABDUL WAHAB AB. RAHMAN
SEPT 4
5
HONG CHEE SET (RONNIE)
SEPT 5
6
DORIS LOW AH MOY
SEPT 8
7
WONG SUI KONG
SEPT 9
8
WONG KIM FOO
SEPT 10
9
CHAN SUY sANG
SEPT 11
10
HO CHIN CHING (DR)
SEPT 14
11
YAP KIM HEE
SEPT 14
12
TAN KOW KHIEH
SEPT 20
13
WONG SWEE YONG
SEPT 22
14
BALBIR SINGH
SEPT 26
15
HO MEI YOON
SEPT 26
16
WONG THIN CHING
SEPT 26
17
YAP NEW CHYE
SEPT 29



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


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