Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Hacking Away

Since we got back about 4 weeks ago, a persistent infection that we picked up on the plane has resulted in a hacking cough that could not be shifted, even after two bouts of antibiotics.  We have become as a result, quite antisocial and unproductive in Kuala Lumpur.

Under such circumstances I could only resort to my usual tactic of tidying and sorting out the junk in my work-room.  This never fails to bring some light - some discovery - to a hacker's life.

This I found, tucked in an old brown envelope - a set of sketches on paper now brittle with age - sketches drawn by the spouse in the mid-1970s - way,way before fate threw us together.

Cautious the Cat

This was part of a young dad's foray into story telling at bedtime for his young son.  Each night Keith would listen intently to the adventures of Cautious the Cat. It was not read from a book, his dad Iain would just create the stories as they come into his head.  Little Keith somehow managed to drift away into dreamland by the end of each adventure.  The next night, he would ask and get another exciting story of Cautious the Cat scouting the streets and dustbins, the riverbanks and food centres for food to feed his family.  Lucky Keith!

We were lucky too in our Abah.  In the late 1940s and 1950s, each evening after dinner we would gather in the sitting room (bilik depan)  under the light of a single pressure lamp (lampu pam), reading our books and comics that Abah had got together for us.  It was also the usual time for getting our homework done at the family dining table.  Abah would be reading the newspaper or a book,  Mak would be busy with her sewing and mending .  And in the background could be heard the dulcet voice of a singer on the radio.

Bedtime was at nine or half-past nine.  We would shuffle off into our beds and only the youngest Akim, would give a goodnight kiss to Abah.  There were times when Abah was entertaining visitors and Akim would be nodding his head, half awake and half in slumber waiting for Abah to appear for the  goodnight peck.  None of us dared to approach Abah to inform him that Akim was waiting.  Children were to be seen and not heard!!  It may sound strict, but it never hurt us - especially now when I observe the precocious and rude children that surround present day family life.

But for Keith and Cautious the Cat, dad's story was not just one of fun and games.  Life is more complicated than that and stories should always carry a meaning, a lesson or a moral for young and old alike.  But preaching and finger-pointing morality does not make for a good story either.

Cautious lived in a world where the cards are stacked against him - where the need to feed his family sometimes makes for a dangerous and frantic existence. But, he's cautious, hardworking and honest - traits that every child should be brought up with.

Cautious was a hungry cat, who lived at the bottom end of town.
.......... where even the dustbins were empty.
...... for at the bottom end of town, everyone was hungry
..... and dogs, too  -  just as hungry - and bigger ... and fiercer.

But Cautious and all his mates, who were facing the same fate as him, were aware of other dustbins, bins that were located in the upper end of town.
...... the dustbins must certainly be fuller at the top end of town.

I suppose this fictional representation of a cat's life sketched in a child's story in the 1970s is replicated today in the life of humans ...  some humans .... some humans from some countries.

And like in the nursery rhyme The Crooked Man - there are many out there, men and women who are crooked, who do not walk and live the straight and narrow ..... though they are not confined just to the mature and elderly.

The crooked (Malay) man and more especially after Merdeka in 1957.

But the poor and the destitute - and deplorables (according to Hilary Clinton) will always be with us.

In the same vein, the rich and liberals, the self-serving elites and others who are somehow not-so-deplorable will retain their secured places in society.  What hope is there as envisaged by Mrs Obama during her husband's presidency ....

..... when hope is but a rotting carrot dangled in the face of the deplorables as in Madrid ..

.... or in Obama's home patch in Chicago ..

..... while he cavorts with the super rich.

In our home patch, it has been reported that DBKL employees and Malaysian policemen are deeply in debt trying to emulate the lifestyle of those who can afford such indulgences ...

Would Cautious the Cat, if he lived in these times be able to maintain his probity and dignity?

When times were really hard at the bottom end of town, even the people looked through each other's dustbins .....

....... and Cautious got nothing, at all ...... nor did his friends, and nor did the dogs ......

You see, Cautious who dwells on the surface is quite ignorant about the wiles and connivings of those who live above the ground - those in the higher echelons.  Cats have nothing to do with the monkey business at the top end of the town.

NB  Why are the sketches peppered with copyright labels? Read http://anaksihamid.blogspot.my/2016/05/a-malay-malady-episode-2.html

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