A Traditional English Christmas Card from the 1930s
And here's my own home made 2001 Christmas and New Year Card for my mates at the Leicester Royal Infirmary.
But all is not well in this 21st century. Nothing is held sacred: everything is subject to use and abuse - anything goes as long as it serves some material, and usually self-serving, purpose. We had a dose of it and maybe more during Hari Raya. Now it's the turn of Christmas - although the greedy shenanigans have gone on for far longer in the heart of Christmas Land .
A. The Trouble with Christmas (or: How Christmas is Politicized for Very Dubious Agendas).
It was in 2010 when we read this inane piece regarding the Red Cross and Christmas..
But this 2010 attitude on the part of the Red Cross was nothing new. In 2002 we heard on the radio about this same Red Cross policy. In response, my irate spouse wrote this letter:
A copy of the spouse's letter.
B. Christmas and Politics 2014
This year Stoke-on-Trent City Council decided to rebrand Christmas and describe it instead as 'Winterfest'. Amongst other changes:
1. Christmas lights will feature Jack Frost with a firebird chasing him. There won't be any little baby Jesus or Santa and his reindeers.
2. Christmas cards will not carry words like 'Happy Christmas', only 'Season's Greetings' and 'Happy Holidays'.
3. The traditional Nativity Plays will not have the infant Jesus, Mary and Joseph. There's talk of using spacemen, footballers and Elvis Presley. One resident angrily remarked, " I assume it is so that Muslims are not offended."
Can you see the common feature here with the 2002 and 2010 Red Cross 'policy'? Many, many white, Christian and secular Brits are being fed the idea that the "Disney-fying" of their traditional Christmas celebration is because of those bloody Muslims! I have heard those last two words many times in many different encounters not only from white Brits but also from the Blacks and the non-Muslim Asians (Indians). It is truly a multi-cultural reaction!
This was the response of the Muslim Council of Great Britain:
C. CHRISTMAS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Did the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) really send out an internal memo about 'reducing use of fairy lights and cutting down emissions from Santa's sleigh"?
Were Decc employees really told to use only 'Season's Greetings' and not 'Merry Christmas' and "in the interest of inclusion, avoid images with skin"?
That time of year is coming upon us again - the season of goodwill and peace to all men (and women, oops!). It's also the season for shopping, for putting up ornate lights and decoration in the city centres, for giving and receiving presents, for boozing ( in the West mainly ) and for eating - and I must also add - for over-consumption and over indulgence.
It's similar to any other religious festival (discounting the boozing for Hari Raya of course) and "secular" festivals like Chinese New Year and the Gregorian New Year in most parts of the world.
In Malaysia, of course, all religious festivals are celebrated with gusto and they are all gazetted as public holidays.
But consider this. In the UK (according to 2011 figures) 4.4 % of the total population are Muslims and the vast majority of these are located in England where they make up just over 5 % of the resident population. In this primarily Christian country, Muslims do not enjoy a public holiday during Eid.
In China, which has an estimated 1-5 % Christian population, Christmas Day is not a public holiday.
Christmas Day is a gazetted public holiday in Malaysia - which has a Christian population of 9 %. Yes, Sabah's Christians make up just over 30% of Sabah's population and in Sarawak, 43 % of her population are Christians. But what of Peninsular Malaysia?
Malaya, a primarily Muslim country, had been invaded and ruled by Christian nations like Portugal, Holland and Britain since the 15th century. She became a part of Malaysia in 1963. Here, Christmas Day was gazetted as a Public Holiday by the colonial authorities long before Merdeka in 1957 - even though Christians make up just over 3% of the Semenanjung's population (2010 statistics). I reckon the percentage must have been even lower in pre-1963 and colonial days. But is this surprising? Malaya, after all, has been a part of the Christian British Empire since the late 18th century.
So remember the Muslims in England: 5 % of the population, and they have no leg to stand on if they want Eid to be declared a public holiday in this "primarily Christian country"!
I recall Allahyarham Usman Awang's poem:
Baiknya hati Melayu itu
Selagi yang ada sanggup diberikan Sehingga tercipta sebuah kiasan: "Dagang lalu nasi ditanakkan Suami pulang lapar tak makan Kera di hutan disusu-susukan Anak di pangkuan mati kebuluran"
However, the "anak di pangkuan" mentioned in this poem has mutated into ... fat cats, copycats, cool cats, hep cats, cat's pyjamas (whiskers) - mostly, but not entirely with the aid of the NEP, under the aegis of the (old) UMNO. Nearly 60 years after Independence in 1957, the Malays are fighting like cats and dogs. They have lost the ability to smell the rats. They have allowed themselves to be manipulated, to be used as cats' paws - resulting in bitter disputes and in-fighting.
Oh dear, I must stop these references to 'cats' - they don't deserve to be reflected in the asinine aspects of my bangsa Melayu.
Sadly the Malays who have been hoisted on the NEP have instead turned into the Other "kera" - "seperti kera diberi bunga".
Even more challenging, the Malays of the 21st century have to re-boot themselves into "Melayu Sederhana" , now that they have been painted into a corner by the uninvited home decorators. It looks like sikera must liberate, liberalise (?) themselves and begin to lay out a carpet of flowers from their little corner right up to the front door - while all other things remain unequal.
1. "The Senate Report on the brutal interrogation methods employed by the CIA after 9/11 not only makes shocking reading: another dark day for an agency, and an ugly stain on the global reputation of the US." Rupert Cornwell, The Independent 9 December 2014.
American Language Real Language
1. waterboarding simulated drownings
2. exploiting individual phobias setting Alsatian dogs to sniff
genitals of suspects.
3. adjusting temperature subjected to sub-zero freezing.
4. dietary manipulation and behaviour control rectal feeding and rectal rehydration
5. stress positions hanging suspect in shackles for 180 hours
6. degrading treatment torture
7. enhanced technique another word for 'torture'
8. serious mistakes there was no torture - just serious
mistakes BUT countless lives have
been saved and our Homeland is
4. Why torture is bad according to many western pundits: it did not produce the crucial intelligence. According to the Report "none of what the CIA perpetrated actually procured information that stopped any plots against the US or its allies."
Dear,dear, what a shame. All that torture and it did not stop the "Muslim Terrorists".
There's no moral indignation about the means and methods applied in this War of Terror, only the disgust that the ends were not achieved.
Cockburn's article makes two points: Firstly, he saw the CIA as an agency fighting the War of Terror and it had failed because it did not prevent the expansion of ISIS.
Secondly, two countries who were 'complicit' in 9/11 (Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) were not
targeted. Well, if they had been, Saudi Arabia would not be 'complicit' with Obama today in pushing down the price of petroleum so as to target Putin (Russia) over the issue of Ukraine and Iran over its nuclear programme.
As for those blighted people of Pakistan, didn't their leaders allow the US to walk all over its sovereignty so that American hit-men could assassinate Osama Bin Laden in his bedroom in
in front of his wife?
Furthermore, despite their nation being an ally of the USA, Pakistani civilians were not spared from being murdered by drones.
Hence in Patrick Cockburn's reckoning, "Guilty the CIA may have been of torturing but this was one episode in a far greater failure. (my underline) for which it had never been held to account."
6. Obama oh Obama !!!
I recall that when this heartthrob President visited Malaysia, we were ticked off for failing to apply American-style democracy, values and morality.
But do people remember when, in January 2009, the newly-elected President Obama pledged to close Guantanamo Bay within 12 months? Do people remember that he reneged on that promise?
In the US inquiry into 9/11, Bush censored 28 pages of the Report which included the role of Saudi Arabia. Obama promised to allow the pages to be published, but he has never done so.
7. Those who are enamoured with America and all things American ( and there is no shortage of them here in Malaysia) will probably extol the fact that the American Government under Obama is willing to reveal all - in this US Senate Intelligence Committee Report. This, they will say, would never happen in their homeland!! Well, read on......
The torture of Muslim prisoners and 'terror suspects by the CIA had been well documented by those who have studied the goings-on in American politics and policy. " Torture and the Violence of Organized Forgetting" (Henry Giroux's words) are not an aberration or a new phenomenon in US domestic and foreign policy.
"The maiming and breaking of bodies and the forms of unimaginable pain inflicted by the Bush administration on so-called 'enemy combatants' was no longer seen in violation of either international human rights or a constitutional commitment to democratic ideals."
" ......... Frank Rich once argued and the Senate Intelligence Report confirms, ' torture was a pre-meditated policy approved at our government's highest levels ...... psychologists and physicians were enlisted as collaborators in inflicting pain."
Two psychologists - Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen - who developed the CIA's torture programme formed a company called Mitchell, Jessen and Associates. They were paid more than USD80 million for their services.
It was reported: after an X-ray of one prisoner's foot, another doctor 'recommended' that the prisoner 'could be made to stand for 52 hours'. As for waterboarding, doctors allowed up to three sessions per day.
Abu Zubaydah, a Pakistani 'terror suspect' was transferred to Thailand and left in isolation for 47 days, he was "squeezed into tiny boxes for 300 hours and waterboarded no fewer than 80 times ...... The water-boarding left Abu Zubaydah 'completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open full mouth.' He was left in a state of 'involuntary spasms.' "
Abu Zubaydah was a broken man after his extensive interrogations. Remember Pavlov's experiment (by using dogs) on conditioning human behaviour? Well, it worked on Abu Zubaydah. "In CIA documents he is described as having become so compliant that 'when the interrogator raised his eyebrows', he would walk to the 'water table' and sit down. The interrogator only had to snap his fingers twice for Abu Zubaydah to lie down, ready for water-boarding, the report says."
So what is waterboarding? An individual is "bound securely to an inclined bench, which is approximately four feet by seven feet. The feet .. are generally elevated. A cloth is placed over the forehead and eyes. Water is then applied to the cloth in a controlled manner ..... and produces the perception of 'suffocation and incipient panic' "
Well, for those of us who have abandoned their rose-coloured glasses about the West, they will realise that Obama's Democrat administration published this Report mainly to expose the Republican administration of George Bush. CIA's use of torture had been known even before Obama came to power. But it's useful to publicise it now because next month the Senate will be run by the Republicans.
Furthermore, only 500 pages of the 6,000 page Report were published: 5,500 pages remain unpublished - that is, over 90 percent of the report - supposedly to protect the allies of US, including the United Kingdom, and to hide the 'black site' prisons where suspects were sent for 'rendition' that is, to be tortured.
"Global" At its height, the CIA program included secret prisons in countries including Poland, Afghanistan, Thailand, Romania and Lithuania - locations that are referred to only by color-themed codes in the report" (from the Daily Mail)
While HRH Prince Charles of the United Kingdom is still wringing his hands and bemoaning the victimisation of Christians in the Middle East by extremist Muslims, we await his verdict on the atrocity committed by his fellow white Christian ally the US on these 'terror suspects.' I wonder if he could see the connection between what Judaeo-Christian countries inflict on the Middle East and the flight and plight of Middle Eastern Christians.
It is a relief to know that in the case of the years of torture of Muslims by the CIA, President Barack Obama has responded by saying (this time it's not 'promising') he "will continue to make sure we never resort to those methods again" . After all, the CIA's behaviour was merely "contrary to our values"!!
The Free World now depend on drones to rid the world of the menace of Islamists, terrorists, Jihadists, al-Qaeda, ISIS, Gazans and Palestinians, etc, etc. In this way, the US and her allies can decimate and maim their enemies without bringing home their boys in body-bags. Also their hands, unlike Lady Macbeth's, will not carry the stench of foreign blood.
The following cartoon says it all.
" How dare they?! That's against International Law"
Early this morning, Macik Alimah, mother of our dear friend Jailani, left those who loved her to meet her Maker. Jai prayed and watched over her as she faded away peacefully from the darkness of the night into the cool early morning.
A brave and plucky lady, she avoided the usual treatment for the breast cancer because she had seen how it could ravage the remains of her day. As she said, at her age she left it all in the hands of Allah. She did receive various types of non-invasive treatments and towards her last few days they topped up her dosage of morphine. But as we and Jai noticed, up to just a few months ago, she was still mentally alert and active, and she had a good appetite. She would, each day instruct the helper - that Jai got for her - on what to cook and what to buy at the market.
I have such great respect for this remarkable lady, this lady who came from a line of the (unacknowledged) First People of Singapura. I have done several postings on Macik ..
First, a small preamble.....
USA, Great Britain, Singapore and Malaysia all claim to be countries run on the principles of democracy. To quote that very over-simplistic saying of Abraham Lincoln, democracy is "Government of the people, by the people, for the people".
A democracy is not ruled by a king or queen , a hereditary aristocracy, a few selected persons, religious elites or any other unelected power group.
USA is a democracy where the President can only get elected to power when he has powerful financial backers to see him through to the White House. But he who pays the piper plays the tune.
Great Britain on the other hand is regarded as the Mother of Parliaments - whose system of parliamentary democracy is inherited by all or most members of her previous empire - of which Malaysia and Singapore are just two. But the ruling class - the politicians and the ministers - are saturated by privately educated, well-heeled Oxbridge graduates. Not only that :
From Mail Online 28 August 2014
Democracy does not stop the domination of government, business, policing and the legal system, and education in the hands of a particular elite.
Quite interesting is this, the Labour Party (now in the Opposition) started as a party representing the working class and supported by the Trade Unions. But ever since Tony Blair took over in 1997 and created New Labour - "red" Labour became more and more like "blue" Conservative - a party of big business and the wealthy.
And just recently it came to light that Labour, which is haemorrhaging from lack of funds has suffered another financial blow. Because of Labour's anti-Israel stance over Gaza and Palestine her Jewish supporters and financial donors are leaving in droves. Here's a piper who will be losing his tune-maker.
In the case of Singapore there are all the trappings of a democracy but it's a form of democracy made-in-Singapore-for-Singapore only. To replace the old guard - the leaders who were at the birth of the Republic of Singapore wef 1963 - Singapore designed a very Singaporean version of anointing new, younger leaders. This second echelon leadership was appointed and co-opted from the elites in the professions, the Civil Service and the business sectors. They joined the PAP only when they were nominated for a Parliamentary seat.
... Now The Nub of the Matter
All that preamble was for the purpose of expanding on this article I read in Utusan Malaysia a few days ago. There was this young man ......
...... Dr Mohammad Nawar Ariffin, an UMNO delegate from Kedah who urged that Umno needs an injection of quality to revitalise the party's status and strength. These words emanate from the son of unschooled and poor padi farmers - who was given the chance by the government (led by UMNO) to progress from poverty to becoming a paediatrician. He expressed his gratitude for the endeavours of UMNO to help its poor members (like his parents' family) to better themselves.
It must be nice for the old guard in UMNO to listen to this voice of appreciation. But they must take more seriously Dr Mohammad Nawar's advice (warning?) that "antara kriteria kualiti yang UMNO perlukan adalah integriti, bekerja dengan teliti, bekerja untuk capai tahap prestasi tinggi, hubungan dua hala antara pemimpin dan ahli serta kerja ikhlas dari hati".
There are three key words, integriti, teliti and ikhlas - very crucial requirements for future UMNO leaders and followers who are truly budiman.
UMNO must listen to such young voices (and many others like him) and give them space and opportunity to contribute to the well-being of the nation and the Malays.
UMNO must choose its future leaders from the likes of Dr Mohammad Nawar Ariffin - young Malays with dedication and ability - and not merely rely on hereditary appointments and old-boy UMNO network.
In the past few months, news coming from Malaysia has got me sick up to the eyeballs. Evangelist Brazilian football, the pathetic circus over "I Want to Touch a Dog", and revelations about stains on carpets and of body fluids during the Sodomy Trial are enough to make you weep. And as for the recent brouhaha over the bangang and the stupid - well, they will always be with the Malays, where ever and who ever they are.
Thank goodness, I have discovered a piece of hopeful news in Dr Mohammad Nawar Ariffin - not simply because he's an UMNO man. It's because this old lady can see in him a glimmer of my father's 'fire in the belly' when he organised an UMNO meeting in Kampung Abu Kassim in Singapore in 1952
Abah is seated 8th from left.
I hope Dr Mohammad Nawar will carry on the torch of the early founders and leaders of UMNO and that the dinosaurs and fat cats and opportunists and cronies in today's UMNO will realise that the survival of the party and the Malays depends on young blood like the delegate from Kedah.
When we got back to Leicester in August this year, we were so happy to discover that ......
.......... the price of our favourite frozen fast food had not gone up at all. We took out a couple of packets to boil for our dinner. The spouse also made mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. We sat down, snipped the packet and what dropped out of it were indeed cod steaks in parsley sauce ... but much reduced in size - by nearly a quarter - compared to a few months ago. Once back in Kuala Lumpur, we bought a fresh tank of gas - the price had gone up from MYR $25 to $29. But who are we to grumble? There are millions of others living under much more straitened circumstances, with children to feed, to clothe and to educate. I cannot bear to think what our children from deprived families have to do without. I can remember a time when we used to come home after school to a lunch of just rice, kicap and fried ikan bilis. Our Abah was paying off a loan to our taukeh kedai because he had been diddled by his 'manager' and customers when he was running a a sundry shop - "Malay Trading" at 5 milestone Pasir Panjang Road. See: http://anaksihamid.blogspot.com/2011/06/tuberculosis-teapot-and-tears-csh.html
And even when life got better, we had to limit our demands and desires for the fancy stuff of life. When I was in Secondary school, I insisted on getting a pair of top of the range Bata Badminton Masters canvas shoes. When the join between the rubber frontal end and the canvas fell apart, I dared not ask for a new pair. So I sewed the two parts together - several times - as they kept on splitting apart. I did not ask for a new pair until the soles got worn out as well.
When my Crescent Girls' School blouse became threadbare on the back - mainly because of heavy sweating - my mother sewed a light yellowish square patch on the inside to enable me to keep on wearing the blouse. My sister and I were allowed only 2 blouses per year. You see, that yellow cotton material could be bought from only one approved supplier - Heap Hin at Cecil Street I think. The material for both the peacock blue skirt and the yellow blouse were priced at $3.50 per yard - and that was a lot of money then!
The habit of savings was very much encouraged during our schooling days - by both our parents and our primary schools.
Report in the Co-Ed, Pasir Panjang English School 1956
Report in the Co-Ed, Pasir Panjang Primary School, 1955
At home, Abah would get us a cute little savings box, shaped like a house.
To retrieve your savings, simply twist and separate the house from the base!
The above image was not my original "National Savings Bank'. I bought this from a car-boot sale at Saddington, Leicester about 15 years ago. And it cost me all of 20p! I was in ecstasy for days and days after that acquisition. This phone-box savings tin was probably from the 1940s . It was a treat for 10p.
My ten-pence box.
I wonder if parents encourage and practise the art of savings for their children in this hi-tech 21st century. Do the young ones physically place their coins in little savings boxes? Maybe they do it online or perhaps their parents set up trusts in all kinds of funds and stocks and shares???
The fun in savings was to hear the rattle of the coins, to feel the growing weight and then to pour it all on a table, count them and take them to the Post Office Savings Counter to be transferred into your own account. But of course there had to be the mandatory deduction for an ice cream - my favourite was an ice-cream tucked in a slice of bread!
"Tabungkan Duitmu " is taken from a 78 rpm record, probably during the 1940s/1950s.
This song, like all the remembrances and values noted above, comes from a bygone age. Of course, some may regard them as out-of-date and irrelevant. In this age of excessive and almost obscene consumerism, I think people have to take a step back and re-evaluate the way they devour and squander the world's resources, and their own as well! But I'm grumbling and I have to stop.
But now, let's come down to earth and ponder our present and disquieting reality.
In today's NST
A few days ago Petronas warned about a 12% drop in net profit. Malaysia has been riding on a wave of rising prices of gas and crude oil. As a result, Petronas has been used and abused as the 'goose that laid the golden eggs' to subsidise and bail out profligacy in Malaysia.
But the ways and purpose of the world's economy are never as straightforward as they are made out to be. You have to look beyond the dollars and (non)sense.
Firstly the IMF regards this as good news. Read ;www.nst.com.my/node/58413 about the view expressed by Christine Lagarde , IMF's Managing Director at a conference of corporation chief executives sponsored by the Wall Street Journal.
Secondly I would suggest looking at another scenario.
1. 1972/1973. While going through my 'junk' in Leicester a few weeks ago, I found this poem in Sekolah Menengah Yusof Ishak's School Magazine.
As they say: from the mouth of babes (well, from a 14/15 year old) - you read an expression of such despair from over 40 years ago! "Puas di asoh dan di didek, Dengan tenaga yang tiada bersukat, Tapi tiada datang budi, Dengan pimpinan yang dulu2 itu. Begini-lah hidup, Lantaran tak punya asohan budi. "
Dr Mahathir's despondency over the Malays as 'knowing no shame' - ( Read : https://my.news.yahoo.com/dr-m-look-east-policy-faltered-malays-still-095400553.html ) has more to do with the near collapse of the old Malay values of Budi. As 14/15 year old Norziah had concluded - the Malays " tak punya asohan budi". Asohan Ugama has jumped by leaps and bounds since Norziah's teenage years. Pilgrimages for Haj and Umrah proliferate. Levels (though not necessarily standards) of education are claimed to be (nearly) world-class. Universities and number of academics and PhDs have mushroomed. But in the mad rush for more and more manna on earth and a place in heaven after earth, the Malays - unlike the Japanese - have not been true to their forefathers' and foremothers' wisdom and prescience.
My unschooled ( both religious and secular) mother brought us up on sayings from pantun pantun Melayu.
At Kampung Chantek 1948, (from left to right), Maznoor, Mak, Mustapha and Maznah. Mustakim was to arrive later in 1949
Pisang emas bawa belayar, Masak sa-biji di-atas peti; Hutang emas boleh di-bayar, Hutang budi di-bawa mati.
Pulau Pandan jauh ke-tengah, Gunong Daik berchabang tiga; Hanchor badan di-kandong tanah, Budi yang baik di-kenang juga. Bunga melati bunga di-darat, Bunga seroja di-tepi kali; Hina besi kerana karat, Hina manusia tidak berbudi.
While we live to offer budi, we have to accept that:
Puas aku bertanam padi, Beras maseh datang seberang; Puas aku berbuat budi, Emas juga di-pandang orang.
But this stricture was drummed into us from childhood to adulthood. Buat baik berpada-pada. Buat jahat jangan sekali.
Anyway, the absence of shame is not the monopoly of Malays. All other racial groups in Malaysia (or anyone one else in the world for that matter) are guilty of that - it all depends on how the nature of the 'shame' is displayed or disguised.
Furthermore these miscreants are located not only among the dregs of Malaysian society (like the Mat Rempit and petty thieves); they also thrive among the upper and middle echelons of the Civil Service, the educated professionals, the business tycoons and taukehs, the directors of multi-national companies, the politicians and political leaders and even among the religious bureaucracy.
And just look at the shenanigans going on in the land of the Mother of Parliament, in Britain.
2. 1961. In 1961, at Crescent Girls' School, a group of Malay-medium students had to 'park' at our school because there weren't any Malay Secondary School in Singapore then.
And this was one of their contributions ......
...... to the School Magazine.
My take on all these? Wither the Malays. Whither the Malays?
Here are some other aspects of Malay 'ways and purpose' as related to budi. There have been studies and dissertations written on Budi in Malay culture. For instance ....
Abstract of "Budi as the Malay Mind" by Lim Kin Hai 2003
The following aspects of 'Budi' are from my collection of dictionaries that hark back to the 1960s.
1963 - 5th Edition
What is missing among present-day Malays is " bangsa Melayu yang budiman".
Let me conclude with a personal touch.
Pisang nangka di-masak pengat, Kait2 banyak duri-nya; Macham mana saya ta'ingat, Orang baik dengan budi-nya.
When in September 1982 my youngest brother Akim, passed away, this 'manusia baik budi' from Leicester was doing his fieldwork in a remote Adivasi village near Kashele, India. He walked one mile to get the bus for an hour-long trip to the small town of Karjat. This was followed by a two-hour train journey from Karjat to Bombay and from here he flew to Singapore to comfort my mother. (Even today, he is petrified of plane travel.) After a day or so, he took another plane journey to Bandar Seri Begawan where I was working.
His was a comforting shoulder to cry on.
The Dynamic Duo - many, many, years later - December 2013.
I taped this song "Serunai Malam" by the Sumatran singer Hasnah Tahar (orkest Saiful Bahri) in 1983 from this album.
I treasured the cassette tape and in winter 2013 I sat down to load all of these songs from tape to cassette player and onto my own clumsy video. In this way, I can keep on listening to them without causing wear and tear on the tapes and the Irama vinyl album.
These lines from "Serunai Malam' sum up the relevance and significance of Budi for this Malay.
Dari mana datang rasa kasih sayang, Dari mata ke hati lalu di kenang. Kerana budi menjadi tunangan, sayang, Sumpah setia disaksikan bintang. Bercerai mati batas nya di dunia, sayang. Di akhirat kita berjumpa pula.
NOTE: All the pantun are taken from Kalong Bunga, Buku 1 - oleh Za'ba , 1964.
On 4 March 2011 I wrote this posting for Lely's birthday - titled Lely - The Fish That Swims Upstream.
Lely, the intrepid camera girl.
Lely or Mak Nyonya is a Pisces. There are two parts to the Pisces. One takes the easier option and swims downstream. The other like Lely - lives the life of the other fish that swims upstream, the one that had to negotiate the boulders, the strong currents and rapids just to keep body and soul together.
She was abandoned by her father even before she was born. Her mother worked as a washerwoman to provide for herself and Lely. Lely recalled the time when she was about 6/7 years old when she and a couple of her kampung friends rummaged through the dustbins of British Army personnel living in terrace houses near her kampung to look for all kinds of goodies like toys and books.
When her mother found her out, she received such a caning with her mother crying, " Tak cukup kah, apa mummy kasi lu? Mummy kerja sana-sini cuci baju jadi tak payah lu bongkar orang punya tong sampah!" That day, Lely learned that one does not need to be rich to keep one's pride and dignity.
Like all young girls, she fell in love. But it was not to be because he died too soon - while at work - in a diving accident. I recalled standing in Irene's kitchen holding her as her tears fell like rain - actually like a rainstorm - on my shoulder. I knew how she felt. I was the same when my brother passed away, too soon. But that is no comfort at all for each loss and each grief is a very singular pain that cannot be shared.
Despite these trials and tribulations she never lost hope and maintained an immense joy for life and all of Allah's blessings.
She found room in her heart for little, young people ..
.....and tall, older people ....
...... and even Miss Hamid, a very strict schoolmarm.
Her greatest happiness, I do believe, is to lose herself in the world of nature and "all its creatures, great and small." All she needs is her camera.
She's happy here in a forest in New Zealand with her camera. Lely is the little red blob
Then on 15 January 2012 she suffered a stroke, caused by a very rare congenital illness in the brain. It is called AVM (Arteriovenous Malformation) - a tangled web of arteries and veins in the brain where a lot of blood is pushed through a concentrated area building up a pressure causing a stroke, aneurism and haemorrhage. See : http://anaksihamid.blogspot.com/2012/02/gift-of-life.html
As a result it paralysed her left side and left a hole in her skull about 4 inches x 5 inches in size. She was and is still dependent on a wheelchair but her indomitable stubbornness and patience with acupuncture and massage has enabled her to be a little more mobile.
But the major problem was the hole in her head. We often joked about how she may lose her brain if that hole is not covered up. "What brain?", she laughed. She went for two scans to check on the state of the AVM, one in 2012, another in 2013. But no, - there was no change and it left her in more tears of disappointment. She went for another one last week. When I spoke to her on the phone two days ago, she said, "Miss Hamid, this time I shall not expect too much. Whatever happens, I shall not get upset."
Today (Thursday), she called to give us the result.
In January 2015, she will go for another scan - to measure the size of the cover for the hole in the skull!!!! That will be followed by another operation to complete the closure of the AVM. Syukur Alhamdulillah. (That hole had to remain until the Specialist was certain that the clot caused by the AVM had been cleared).
She still has a battle to get back the mobility in her left arm and leg - she still needs her wheelchair - but she has climbed over a helluva mountain.
But for most of 2012 and 2013 and 2014, she made it mainly on her own.
I believe this poem INVICTUS by William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) fits you like a glove.
Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul. In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed. Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds, and shall find me, unafraid. It matters not how straight the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.
Lely, as Uncle Iain said, "We're very proud of you."
Here's the song you wanted to hear when you were in the ICU!!
Returned to home from home late on Sunday 16 November. It took 3 hours from Leicester to Heathrow, 16 hours (with transit at Dubai) to KLIA and another two hours to get home to Setiawangsa. We made it - physically intact - not bad for two septuagenarians.
Here I am at 4 am Wednesday morning, still wide awake. Might as well look up my Picture Folder to kill time. I might get so tired and fall asleep, face flat on the laptop.
My passport indicates my homeland is Malaysia but my spirit and my soul still revolves around these images of my life in Singapore and Semenanjung Tanah Melayu.
From my PPES School Magazine 1956
From my PPES School Magazine 1956
Remembering Bagan Datoh 1993
Remembering the budlear thriving in a rubble heap - Leicester October 2014
It's now 5 am - might as well give up trying and get to work on breakfast.