Wednesday, October 24, 2007


In 1969, my parents decided enough was enough. I cannot be left alone in Singapore. I had been a handful for those responsible for taking care of me in Singapore. I was studying still in Balestier Mixed School - in Primary Four. My brother was also in Balestier and my sister in Swiss Cottage. Dad was in between jobs - the Malay Film studios in Jalan Ampas was going bust and there was an exodus of film workers to Kuala Lumpur - to the new (at that time) studio in Ulu Kelang (Merdeka Studios).
To date, we have been travelling to KL for a few times already. I guess Abah was testing the waters there. We actually stayed for awhile in Setapak Garden which was quite near to the Merdeka studio. In fact, my berkhatan ceremony was held in Setapak Garden. Amongst all childhood memories, this one was quiet vivid. It was a time when tok mudims were running amok - going around happy with their snip-snipping ways.
That morning, wearing kain sarong, I was led to a room surrounding by unfamiliar male faces. There in the center of the room was a banana tree trunk. It was laid down for me to sit astride on. The sarong was taken away and there I was naked in front of the tok mudim and everyone else (males). I was given a liquid to drink supposedly to calm me down (could be a placebo for all I know). Within seconds, the tok mudim's cold hands was preparing my little friend for its inevitable fate. I won't go into details, but just before the incisive moment, he told me to turn my head away and take a deep breath. Not knowing what will happen I obeyed and then it happened. Snip snip - a fore(skin)gone conclusion. In seconds, the tok mudim wrapped it in gauze strips and I can still remember the smell of blood. The pain? I guess it was sharp and quick, over in seconds. Once done, I wore my sarong and walked around holding the front of the sarong in front of me not letting the cloth come into contact with my very sensitive friend.
The best thing about 'berkhatan' is that the many gifts we get - and I got plenty - including a model warship from Uncle P. Ramlee.
Everything was fine until the next couple of days when we had to change the gauze - now - that was excruciating!!!
Well, enough of that incident. From Setapak, my Dad decided that his time with Merdeka Studios should come to an end, so in 1969, he accepted a post with the Filem Negara in Petaling Jaya.
And from a small terrace house in Setapak, we now stayed in a nice little single storey bungalow at 107, Jalan 12/14 in Petaling Jaya - mere walking distance from Filem Negara.
I was put into the La Salle Primary School in Jalan Gasing in Standard Six. My elder brother was sent back to Singapore to continue hi studies where he eventually entered Raffles.
Somehow, it seems, Singapore's education standards were higher and therefore, from Standard Four in Singapore I was promoted to Primary Six in PJ. I skipped Primary Five, and therefore from then on was always the youngest student in class.
My younger brother Asnadi has not yet started schooling but he would enter a couple of years later at the new Seri Petaling Primary school in Section 14.
Meawhile, Abah began his stint in Filem Negara directing documentaries.

No comments: