Saturday, May 26, 2007

Oh burung Pungguk....


Yesterday morning (Sunday) while I was jogging near my apartment in Kerteh, I came across this creature. At first glance, I thought it was a small ugly monkey. Upon closer inspection, it looks like a burung punggok, tho I am not very sure as I always thot that normally Punggok has wide round eyes.

It didn't fly away when I went close to it to inspect. (Luckily my former PDA phone - now with only PDA functionality - has a camera. It is only a 1.3 MP camera, so it is not that clear.)
This bird ain't afraid of no human. It stares back at me when I close in on him. "Hey you, why stare stare? I may be ugly but you think you are so handsome yourself?" the bird seems to be saying to me. But it sure has very nice batik-like feathers.

Never mind, punggok or no punggok, I remember this old song - a remake by Sharifah Aini. I love this song. It is different from the normal love song - in both the melody and lyrics. Well, it still is a love song (albeit one on unrequited love), but it is more subtle and full of idioms (this time starring the owl). The backing orchestra also did a fine job with the song, for it is a difficult song to accompany - it has at least 4 different tempo (unlike normal song which normally would have two, in my amateur opinion). I can't find the lyric on the net, so I am writing it down as I remember it. I do have this song in my collection, but away in KL.
(Click here to listen to this beautiful song)

Burung Pungguk

Oh burung pungguk
Malang nasibmu
Rupamu buruk
tak siapa yang mahu

Bila malam telah tiba
Dilangit bulan bercahaya
kau berbunyi berhiba-hiba
merindukan bulan purnama
Sungguh suara mu menawan hati
kedengaran dipohon kayu
bagaikan bintang dikasihi

Tetapi wahai pungguk
Kau tak diacuhkan
Walaupun kau merajuk
Maratapi diri
Bulan hanya bagai mengatakan
Oh kasihan

Malangnya nasibmu wahai si burung pungguk
Tidak seperti burung Nuri didalam sangkar
dikasihi lelaki dan perempuan
untuk menghibur hati yang rawan


This entry was originally posted at Time in a Bottle
Monday May 28, 2007 - 09:43am (MYT)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Perak Man and I could have shared the same Alma Mater
You all know the Perak man, right? No, not me lah. I am a Perakian, but not the Perak Man. He was prehistoric, lived 10,000 years ago in Gua Gunung Runtuh near Bukit Kepala Gajah which is right at the edge of Lenggong town. He was found buried in 1991 by Prof Dr Zuraina of USM. My point is if the Perak man is still alive, I am sure he would have gone to the same school I attended to in the 70s – SRJK (I) Lenggong. If he was born in the 60s we could have been classmates – after all he died in his 40s. Our house in Lenggong was only a few hundred meters from Bukit Kepala Gajah. We used to wonder about the hill when we were kids while walking to our mengaji place in the nearby kampung. Although we didn’t know its name then, we nicknamed it Bukit Gajah since it resembles gajah. (Little did we know it is really known as Bukit Kepala Gajah!) We reckoned then that it was the work of Sang Kelembai who ‘sumpah’ the gajah to become batu. For what reason, we do not know.

For that I would claim that that school must be the oldest school in Malaysia!
Cikgu Faridah (Std 3)

I recently went to a wedding in Taman Tun. That was the second invites I got from the host. The first time I was seated next to a UKM lecturer and while we were having our small chat, he asked me about my relationship with the host. I said, “Well, I was bride’s mother’s Std 3 student!” He was surprised, “And you all still keep in touch?”

(Hey, I am not that old you know! ;-) )

Yeah, we do. Cikgu Faridah and her husband Cikgu Hizam are family friends of my parents, and the first three of us kids were, at one time or another, taught by one of them. In my case, cikgu Faridah was my class teacher for Std 3 in SRJK (I) Lenggong in 1972. A nice teacher eventhough I didn’t do too well then because of the eye-sight problem that I have that year, so I had to move from the back of the classroom (I was the biggest boy obviously) to the front of the class, next to a girl (Sarah was her name), so my study suffered! Hahaha, joking only mah! She kept on reminding me how my study had deteriorated, but there was little I could do without glasses.
The second time we got invited to another of their daughter’s wedding, the Hariri’s family was allocated a table of our own. And just two tables away was a group of their teacher’s friends from Lenggong. And obviously their teacher friends had to be our teachers too!
Cikgu Laily (Std 2)

So that’s how I met again my Std 2 (1971) teacher Cikgu Laily. I would have to say she was perhaps one of my favourite teachers, if not the favourite teacher. I couldn’t recognize her to be honest, and I must say that I didn’t realize that how far we had gone through time. Whatever memory I had of her, that’s not how I remember her. I remember a very fair, good looking - make that pretty - teacher. I believe the feeling was mutual, in the sense in front of her at that time is not the innocent 8-year old rural town boy, but a 40-something father of two, all burnt out from life’s pressures. She is still soft spoken I must admit.

I guess it is different with Cikgu Faridah and Cikgu Hizam. We probably met every few years, so the changes are more gradual. As for Cikgu Laily, well that was the first time I saw her again after leaving Lenggong for Taiping at the end of 1972; that’s more than 35 years ago. But I have fond memories of her. I excelled under her tutelage and was untouchable then – it helped, of course, that the smartest girl in school was no longer around. (More of her later.) I really enjoyed her class and her presence as a teacher. I remember that year well, for she had given me the task of ‘memorising’ the Rukun Negara (for a competition I think) when it was first introduced (you know that…Maka kami, rakyat Malaysia berikrar….keluhuran perlembagaan…) and I guess she was confident I would win it (or at least that’s how I remember it). But I was sick when the day arrived and hence didn’t compete.

Cikgu Laily, I especially remember the subject “Berita” where we had to write a short story or news and present it to the class. At one time I wrote a story along this line; “Yesterday I saw a beggar who was all wet by the rain. He went into an old barn and light up a fire to heat up his body’” and of course complete with a drawing of someone lighting up a fire next to a cow, or something resembling someone and a cow. OK OK I am no Picasso or Latif Mohidin!

I guess it must have been so real that she had to ask me if that was a true story! I didn’t answer her; I just smiled. (Of course I made that up. I was quite imaginative then.) Oh, BTW I learned that song Senjakala in her class.
Cikgu Ainon (Std 1)

Another teacher during those years was cikgu Ainon; my Std 1 teacher of 1970. She was the only teacher who would dare caning an anak Hariri. Well it was my fault really and if bapak were to read this I am sure he would applaud Cikgu Ainon for that. Since I was a big-sized boy for my age, I would normally have to sit at the back . Back then I had a good friend, Fazidah who is the daughter of bapak’s boss at the Pejabat Tanah (the ADO), so at every opportunity I would chit-chat with her. Well, when we were in the same class, I had to play second fiddle to her – she definitely was smarter.

So during one of those rare lull periods, Cikgu Ainon would ask us to do our own reading, while she was marking the books or something along the line. I had other ideas then. So like all hyper-active Std 1 boys, I would sneak to Fazidah’s desk – hiding behind rows of tables, for another chit-chat session. I guess we were engrossed in our chats – God knows what seven year olds would talk about - that we didn’t realize that Cikgu Ainon was right behind me and all of the sudden I heard a swooshing sound and felt an excruciating pain on my back. She had hit me with a rotan! Take that for defying her order.

But I guess that didn’t devalue me in her eyes. Many a times, she would ask Fazidah and me to do the honour and ‘ring’ the bell for the break. The first time she asked us, we had difficulty finding it. By the time we found it after asking around, Cikgu Ainon had beaten us to the bell! I guess we must have taken so long a time, or may be she thought we had abandoned the search and gone to the canteen ourselves!
I had my revenge of sort (well, not really actually) in Std 3, when one day I stopped her and told her that an uncle of mine kirim salam to her. I am sure that he was just pulling my leg, thinking that I would not dare telling Cikgu Ainon, but I did! As I have said, in SRJK(I) Lenggong, I was a much different person and untouchable! Hahaha...I can't quite remember her reaction, but most likely she took it in her stride. Luckily for me, she didn't marry him. If she did, then he would not have been my uncle! (For he was an uncle by marriage. He is also the most talented artist that I had ever met - he used to paint the murals on the Taiping Zoo entrance arch. But like many talented people, he died young - at 36 in 1982; one of the three saddest years of my life in the 80s, all on a trot.)

Unfortunately like the abode of the Perak man, the school is in ruin. Like many rural schools, it was built using timber, so it didn’t last that long. It’s a pity. The building is no longer in use and the school has been relocated to another site. I was told recently by an ex-classmate, who took the trouble to look for me through Ansara KB, that many of us are doing quite well. We have a couple of engineers (ehem ehem), a doctor, a couple of professors, many teachers, many businessmen/women etc in our midst. Quite an achievement for a school in a town quite remote, where in the 60s you would have to pass by a couple of army posts to get to town. Communist insurgency was not the only problem then, it was so remote that when one night we had a car breakdown in the middle of nowhere on our return to Lenggong (from Taiping), bapak told us to wind up all the windows while he went out to check on the engine. It was pitch black outside. Mr Rimau was the problem in the 70s!

The view of the main entrance of the school. One could see the padang where we had our scout jamboree in 1972 and all the sport activities. The blue building in the background is the Balai Raya where it used to host my kindergarten class. The hibiscus flower in the middle the building is still there. It was at this Padang that we watched our first public screening of a cowboy-red indian movie. We didnt buy any drink or food there as we were warned about possible 'santau'. Despite that, we had our fun in the moonlight!
Then again, I am not surprised by my exclassmates’ achievement. The Lenggong Valley is the prehistoric capital of Malaysia and we were right in the middle of it. There must be a reason why our prehistoric ancestors chose Lenggong Valley for their abode. I am sure it rubbed off to us kids during those days.
Of course we had a strong foundation set by our teachers then. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sungai Mekong

Circa 1979-1980:
I do enjoy a bit of poetry, though I guess most likely it was after the disaster with the self-learning guitar lessons. By then, I had memorized this poem by Latif Mohidin (for no apparent reason actually). I love the elegiac wordings of this poem (kan kuhanyutkan hatiku ke kalimu, namaku ke muara, suaraku ke gunung etc etc). To me, Latiff Mohidin is a charismatic, multi-talented person, as beyond being a well-known poet, he’s also an accomplished artist, writer and thinker. Unfortunately he is not in the mainstream entertainment business, or else he would be a popular as M.Nasir. Well, that's our loss actually!
I remember too that one day our BM teacher, Cikgu Nik Man, asked us to write our own poetry. Huh, me writing poems? He must be joking, right? What do we know about writing poems? So I contemplated plagiarizing - against my better judgment, this poem by Latif Mohideen. But luckily I consulted our in-house poet Zai, who advised me against it (‘It’s too well known”, he said). That was his way of saying I should not do it.
I don’t remember what I came up with. I am sure it was no masterpiece, but at least it was original. But this Sungai Mekong poem will always be in my heart. I have traversed the Saigon River from Saigon to Vung Tau many times (even when there were few foreigners around in the mid-90s), but Sungai Mekong has eluded me so far in my travel.

Sungai Mekong
Sungai Mekong
kupilih namamu
kerana aku begitu sepi
kan kubenamkan dadaku
ke dasarmu
kaki kananku ke bulan
kaki kiriku ke matari
kan kuhanyutkan hatiku
ke kalimu
namaku ke muara
suaraku ke gunung
Sungai Mekong
nafasmu begitu tenang
lenggangmu begitu lapang
di tebingmu
ada ibu bersuara sayu
mencari suara puteranya yang hilang
waktu ia merebahkan wajahnya
ke wajahmu
kau masih bisa senyum senang
Sungai Mekong
akhirilah tarisiang riakmu
kulihat di dasarmu
kuntum-kuntum berdarah
batu-batu luka
malam ini
ribut dari utara akan tiba
tebingmu akan pecah
airmu akan merah
dan arusmu akan lebih keras
dari Niagara
(Latif Mohidin - Vientianne 1 Feb 1966)