Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Crime Story - Their Darkest Hours

Her facial expression revealed the excruciating pain she's bearing.
I asked her why?
She said she was locking the door to her flat when came a young man from nowhere, knocking her head with a motorcycle helmet and grabbed her handbag.
He walked away along the dark corridor...

The lights were all there.
So, was the then-flat in the middle of JB town took part in the 60-minutes 'Earth Hour'?
'Earth Hour' or not, the lights that's supposed to light-up corridors were simply not working since ages, as far as she could remember.

Fatmah, the single woman in her 50s I supposed, said, luck was still on her side as she was just about to put her house keys in her bag when one of  'the darkest episode' in her life took place.
Feeling dizzy with blood oozing out from the back of her head, she scrambled, unlocking her house, and rested in her house with more fear she felt than the excruciating pain she endured - her head injury needed 6 stitches.

She made a police report.
To her surprise, the police officer was not convinced with her story - Even with the stitches on the rear of her head as prove.
No witness to verify her story...

We were on our way to Gazebo, our usual dinner place when, from far, a girl was seen having a 'misunderstanding' with his boyfriend - the boy was on motorbike.

The scene was outside one of the gated terrace-houses in Taman Suria, about 500 metres from Giant Supermarket.
The dark, quiet lanes that enveloped the neighbourhood made me think that the girl was outside her house, meeting her boyfriend, without her parents' knowledge - but as we travelled nearer to them, there's not one, but two boys on the bike.

The pillon-rider was pulling away the girl's sling-bag from her and she struggled hard to save it.
Alas, the sling snapped and the boys sped away with their prey, the girl's sling-bag.
I tried to memorise the number on their licence-plate, but the bike was without lights. They knew we gave chase as we gave signal to another bike-rider about the snatch-theft, but as we approached Larkin Perdana, there's red light ahead.
Our chase stopped there as the thieves raced across the red-light.

Plunged into darkness or broad daylight, brave individuals put their 'wave of hope and action' into full practice.

It was about 5pm when outside the then temporary police station at Christine Place, traffic was understandably slow as thousands of workers were heading home from their day job across the Causeway.

In the midst of the chaotic road, I thought a drama or film-shooting was taking place.
A Chinese man was asked to alight from his motorcycle, stranding the motorcycle at the roadside. He was bundled into a car by 2 men - vehicles were redirected to the first and second lane.
The car was on the third lane. It was heading towards the flyover - and we trailed behind the car as we were on our way west of town.
Once the car was on the flyover, it turned left, and zoomed away...

My Husband and I realised, we were the only two other souls, beside the men in the car that were on the deserted flyover.
A real-life kidnap drama had taken place in broad day-light, amidst the busy road, just outside...

As cities, towns and countries worldwide plunged into darkness to bring awareness and meaningful action of changes, what is darkness to these people and many others?
Although the cause may differ, these people, and many others, hope rays of light may shine, sincerity and responsiblity will be held high.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Recapping The Unpleasant Moments

It was in June 1996 when we went to several of Wali Songo's graves but one I could remember well was atop Gunung Muria.

There's an army personnel guarding the donation box.
Not thinking of any adverse, we were about to push in the rupiah notes into the slot when swifly the army man swung out his loaded arm, placed it before the slot, for the money to be placed just on top of the box.

There's heapful of rupiah notes on the box - I was astonished seeing him sweeping the money with his loaded arm to his direction and into his trousers' pocket.
Local visitors did not bat their eyelids seeing such horrific incident but the army personnel's violation of trust trusted onto his sholuder really question my innerself of our sincere wish in seeing our neighbours a no pauper on their own land.
We were visiting a kiyai (or was it an ustaz, not very sure) of one of the local pondoks (or was it pesantren, not very sure too) in Central Java. His wife changed into several kebayas for photo sessions with us.

Whenever her outfits changed, so did her genuine gemstone accessories, to complement her outlook.

Did she 'transform' herself into a model out of respect for her visitors? To convince us that Indonesians too are loaded people themselves?
Anyway, from that day onwards, no more donation was ever forwarded from us.

Even as were heading to another 'kabupaten', we were being sent off by another pesantren's girl students with their fingers manicured and painted. When asked why they did as such, their reply was, "Enggak apa-apa, Bu."       

Cruel as it may be seen, even our frequent donation to one of the orphange in Batam was stopped too.

When money start to trinkle in, so does the number of family members.
Where once it was meant for the orphans and poor, it now covers not only the home's operator and his immediate family, but his step children and their families wanted their voices to be heard, too.

***From feedback, ordinary citizens in Tanjung Pinang and Batam felt the sincerity in the current government. They are feeling and seeing the positivity.
My sincere hope is, such personnel at Gunung Muria had returned monies not rightfully his and the likings of the religious leader's wife had been ticked off by the husband.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Sleep That Wasn't

There's a man, today, who had been hit by an east bound train at Tanah Merah Terminal.
He had apparently jumped onto the rail track in, perhaps, a suicide bid. 

Once, I was on way to my mother's house who was then staying in Bedok.
From afar, I could see a man was sleeping on a grass plot below my mother's block.
At that instant, I thought of waking him up as he's sleeping at the 'danger zone' - If anybody then, was to throw any killer-rubbish, he would be at least suffer injury.
He's properly-attired, in jeans, leather belt and I remembered well his camel shoes. I stopped short of waking him up when I went near him as my hands were full with stuff for my mother.

I hurried up to her second storey flat, passed her the goods meant for her, told her I'll be back soon.

As I stepped on the last step of the ground floor staircase, I saw a big crowd with policemen overlooking at the very spot where I saw the 'sleeping' Malay man.
Upon closer look, the man had been covered with body sheet.

Oh ... He's said to jump off the very block where my mother had stayed then.

So, I was probably the first person to witness him as a dead person. But he's not covered in blood, no visible fracture, just an ordinary man sleeping on an unusual place.  

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Taxi Story - His Yearning Heart Had Spoken

"Kakak sihat?" The taxi driver warm up to his passenger - me.

"Alhamdulillaah." I answered as I propered myself at the rear sit.

"Kakak selamat?" He continued.

"Alhamdulillaah selamat." A rare question asked - I answered anyway.

"Abang?" What's this? I asked myself.

"Selamat juga. Kenapa?" I had to ask him of his queer question.

"Kakak selamat, Abang selamat, Kassim selamat, saya tak selamat." What's exactly in the driver's mind?

"Kenapa doa macam gitu?" I was surprised with his statement.

"Betul Kak... Kakak selamat, Abang selamat, Kassim selamat tapi saya tak selamat." The taxi driver tried to convince me.

"Apa pun yang kita cakap, itu doa kita. Malaikat aminkan apa yang keluar dari mulut kita.Tak kisah cakap main-main ke cakap betul-betul. Malaikat tak tau gurau tu apa. Yang dia tau, dia bawak apa yang kita cakap pada Tuhan. Kita tunggulah bila cakap kita jadi betul. Itu orang cakap secara kebetulan." I needed to correct his choice of words that came out of his mouth.

"Kak, Kakak selamat, Abang selamat, Kassim selamat, saya juga selamat Kak..." He recorrected his statement.

"Alhamdulillaah semua selamat. Amin." I was relieved at last.

"Kak, saya sebenarnya engineer - kerja kat Australia. Kakak pernah dengar cari gali minyak kat tengah laut?" The man sobered with his words.

"Oil-rig engineer kat Australia kenapa taxi-driver kat Johor?" I was surprised with the 360 degrees transformation.

"Saya tinggalkan anak bini kat kampung. Suruh kawan tolong tengok diorang kat rumah. Tau-tau dia nak bini saya jadi orang-rumah dia." He started to open up.

"Lepas tu?" I was curious with his story.

"Lepas tu, saya lepaskan kerja. Saya kerja jauh sebab nak cari lebih untuk family. Sekarang family tak lengkap - cuma anak-anak saja."

"Kat Australia kan banyak perempuan cantik. Kawin satu aje orang sana - sayang kerja..." l tried to lift his spirit.

"Saya jarang jalan-jalan kat darat, selalu ingat bini. Saya sayang bini saya kak, dia baik. Sebab itu kawan saya pun sayang dia." The man started to falter with his words.

"Bini dah tak ada. Focus kerjalah." I lifted his spirit higher.

"Kak, Kakak cantik, Abang sayang. Anak-anak saya cantik Kak, saya sayang. Bini saya cantik, saya tak boleh sayang. Tapi saya tau saya tetap juga sayang. Anak-anak saya cantik kak. Saya sayang. Saya tak mau suruh orang jaga. Biar saya jaga sendiri. Saya tak nak diorang hilang macam bini saya hilang." His words start to pierce my heart. I was looking at him through the mirror - he's avoiding eye contact - He looked down occasionally...

"Berapa umur anak?"

"15 dengan 19. Diorang cantik Kak. Dah 8 tahun saya jaga sendiri kat kampung..." A loving father who talk affectionately of his daughters - A man with a very big loving heart who gave away his heart to his ex-wife only to be hijacked by his best friend.

He's suffocating...

He's yearning for the feeling not returned...

Finally I reached my destination before the taxi driver could finish his sentence.
As I paid my fare, he turned to me and I saw his watery red eyes.
I had to get out of his life-story fast.

"Keep the change." I hurried away from him...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Piercing Pain In The Art Of One Eye Closed

I woke up this morning with Leena in mind. I have to call her today. Somehow, my telepathic mind sensed something is not right.
Just then, an SMS alerted me - It's her.

Over a cup of morning coffee, we talked for more than an hour over the phone - Her husband had spilled everything. What's the next step?
Unlike other times when she was stopped from taking further action, this time, the husband wanted her to make a report of his infidelity. His wayward married life has been going on since the beginning of their 12 years together being husband and wife.
Their first honeymoon month had already being marred with a former girlfriend came into picture -Their marriage was sort of, the arranged marriage

A reunion for all former schoolmates were held with Hari Raya home visits to all schoolmates' houses. Firdaus's parents were immediately pleased to see Leena, a religious girl with pleasant personality, and shows high respect towards the elders.
Firdaus, tight-lipped, followed his parents' choice and Leena's widowed mother thought it's high time for her last daughter to settle down, being 25 then.

Then, incidences started to unfold itself.
Firdaus's girlfriend demanded the return of all her cash - He's been swiping credit cards and she's been footing his bills. They'd been together for 7 years then, with marriage on the card. Now, with no marriage proposal in picture, she demanded another S$10,000 to start life afresh in Australia.
It was frustrating to see Leena settled all his finances.

Not long after, when Leena brought Firdaus to court to dissolve their marriage as she found out that he's having an affair with 2 other women at the same time - she found out too that she was carrying their first child - thus the court process had to wait until after childbirth.

She had tried to talk to her mother, Mak Habsah, or her stepmother, to be exact.
To Mak Habsah, let fate takes its due course - Her life has been a struggle all along.
Habsah, a bright and intelligent lady, had wanted to be a nurse since young, but her ambition was short-lived. No single girls in her days then, were to venture out of their village in Pontian, alone, except to follow husband upon marriage. So, she spent her days in the village writing poems, stories and dramas for magazines and radio stations.
She turned down several marriage proposals with scoldings from her parents for not being filial - to follow her parents' wish in seeing her getting married.
But when she accepted this arranged proposal by a man with 8 small children who's wife had just died due to child-birth complication, she received more scoldings from not only parents, but siblings and relatives.
She was already 30 years old by then, a wise person to chart her life ahead.

The baby whose mother died after giving birth to, is Leena.
Mak Habsah has no children of her own. Her married life was only to nurse, raise, educate and married off her 8 stepchildren, almost singlehandedly, since her husband died into their 4 years of marriage. Leena was 4 years old then, and Mak Habsah's eldest stepchild was 16, about to take her O level. 


Leena, by now, busy with her 3 kids, has only deaf ears hearing stories of her husband's philandering lifestyle.
Firdaus, somehow, is closely attached to his children and Leena do not want the fatherly figure that she did not have, to be taken away from her children too.
Only when her children, now aged 7, 9 and 11, had started to ask questions, then she decided to pursue matters which she had longed withheld - The children were curious to know why Papa has to send his friend home, everyday, when fetching them from school.
When confronted, Firdaus admitted lying to his girlfriend, a single mother of 2 teenagers, saying that he's been separated from his wife, Leena.
To add salt to the already wounded story, he's being pressed by the girlfriend's parents for a marriage to take place the soonest possible.  

Leena had tried to talk to her parents-in-law, but, the answer was as expected. The reason why Leena was chosen as a daughter-in-law was because, she, being religious, will eventually guide Firdaus to the straight path and, infidelity does run in the family - the in-laws admitted without any guilt.

Of all women that Firdaus is having an affair with, now, is a teaching staff in his children's school...


Now I can understand why Jack Neo's wife chose  to close an eye  seeing his KABOOM!!! story.

***Changes were made where appropriate.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Housing Story - Between Filial And Social Responsibility

I was organising my mother's clothing in her wardrobe when, last week, Kak Lin called to inform she would drop by thrice weekly - while her husband will be having his dialysis at the centre nearby my mother's house - for Qur'an reading session.
When I told her that my mother had been staying with my sister for already some months now, she was surprised that I did not rent out the flat - Well, she's not the first person to say that.

Kak Lin, one of the very old neighbours since Geylang days whom many neighbours like her, are more than relatives now, had known my mother much longer than myself - from her childhood days to now, with 3 grandchildren.

My late father had been renting out houses, around 7, as long as I could remember.
My duty then was to collect backdated rental - and it wasn't an easy task.
From next month to middle of the month to end of the month - then, only one month rental paid up. The one month rental paid was inclusive of the forever bring forward months - and the ballooning months can stretch forever...
That bad experience etched eternally in my mind.

Some friends and those they, whom friends recommended do ask for flat rental from me being the owner, but, as what My Husband and his friends practice, if we want eternity in friendship, never to have any business deal with friends - Let others make money from our friends, not us - I may sound selfish, but it's always not a nice scene to see house conditions when tenants move out - We have to touch-up the house all over again.

It's sad to ask my mother to move in with my sister - but her age just doesn't permit her to live all by herself.

Relatives, neighbours and friends are unanimous in going against her staying alone after my late father passed away in 2005, but she insisted. Nothing could come between her idea - My sisters will take turns to drop by. She'll fast on alternate days and my brother will take her for her occasional marketing at Mustapha.

The last fasting month, for the first time in her life, she agreed to spend her last 10 days of Ramadhan and celebrating Hari Raya in JB.
My brother took the opportunity of her absence in renovating the flat to suit her needs.
When she went back, she was taken in for a great surprise of the overall renovations - Even then, relatives, neighbours and friends still insisted that she stay with her children.
Hopefully, she listen to them, if not her own children.

As for her flat, I will let it be vacant for now. If my action is to mean depriving others of their much needed humble shelter, maybe... ???                             

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Stick-For-Life Singaporeanism

A friend voiced out her concern that her 'this particular student' had been absent from class for a month now.

The student's family, as I was told yesterday, is living in a camp along West Coast beach.

I can sense her anxiety.
I'm concerned too, about a friend, Anne*, who's 13 year-old son had not been attending school for a year now.
I pleaded her not to move to JB - at least not before leaving behind her Singaporeanism in Singapore.

But to her, the 3 year agreement she and her husband signed to rent out her whole flat will create a fortune of a lifetime.
The husband will commute between the 2 countries to work.
Her son will be attending JB local school.
I had not visit them since they moved to JB, although they are nearer to me now than before.
In the end, the 3 of them all stayed home.


Aini* called me last month asking for help - looking for accomodation.
What more can I do?
I've known Singaporeanism only too well.
I did point out to her that nowadays, there's many Singaporeans (who do not mind about  flats conditions), who put up at Larkin flats.

Then, there's another caller, Salima*, looking for her sister, Zainon*, whom she lost all contact since the day Zainon left my house.
Yes, when I heard the news that the sister, Zainon, was renting out her flat in Aljunied and staying in JB, I asked around, in Singapore and JB, to find her wherabout.
It took me about a week or so, searching around JB town before my husband and I could locate her staying in one of the hostel in Larkin Perdana.

It was Hari Raya week - The least I could do at that time, was to put her up at my place, thinking of her convenience of receiving relatives and friends during the festive season.

We went for house-hunting during her month long stay with us.
But when  housing expectations  could not be lowered (mind you, rental only) and standards need to be met, I washed my hands - Lest these people think I'm earning commission.
I declined her request for a room rental although I did ask her prolonging her stay since there's more than space for her in the house.
She moved out, nevertheless. 

For now, Aini's family is staying around Nong Chik area and Zainon disappeared for good.


Then, there's this elderly childless couple who had sold their Singapore flat and had been renting a private condo in JB for the last 10 years.
The husband, prone to asthma attack, is very sickly now and is frequenting Tan Tock Seng Hospital even when it's 2am.
A visit to local hospital is a no-no as their finance is fast depleting.


Then, 2 days ago, I was speechless as a 74 year-old neighbour, an elderly grandmother, whom, Maya*, a Singaporean, had asked to look after and stay in her (Maya's) house for the last 20 years or so, was so adamant of asking RM10,000 compensation for looking after the (Maya's) house.
Maya is known for her generosity in stocking more than enough food for the elderly grandmother and giving her monthly pocket-money.

If, only these Singaporeans will be more words-friendly than money-friendly with their JB neighbours, then they will not be treading an alien, isolated, lonely and miserable Malay Malaysian land where being equally Malay does not equate what is in the mind.