Pak Abu left for his daily fix of golf early today, looking somewhat pensive. I knew the reason why - this would be his last game before fasting began and he was psyching himself to cope with the gang's 'no-golf-during-Ramadan' self-imposed collective decision.
By 8 am, I was parked in front of the TV to watch the National Day Parade. Ever since RTM (and later TV3) had televised the event 'live', I have never failed to tune in every 31st August.
I guess there is something to be said about watching your country on show. Perhaps I am too 'old-school' or just a sentimental old fool, but my pride swelled each time I heard those patriotic songs and saw the march past by our soldiers.
Of all the participants, one group touched my heart. Kontinjen Pesara Polis (Police Pensioners Contingent) saw some 100 elderly men in blue batik proudly marching, arms swinging in unison to brass band music.
My breath caught, memories of my late father-in-law (blog piece Death of A Patriot, 20 June 2008), a top cop murdered in cold blood by the communists in the heart of Kuala Lumpur in June 1974, seared my mind.
Seeing how the entire police force is maligned and rubbished by some quarters today for the sins of a few filled me with hurt and anger. I wonder how Bapak would have reacted if he was still alive and leading his men in blue.
National Day is also significant to me for another reason - I started work as a reporter on the 31st of August 1973 and my maiden assignment was to cover the Parade.
That I was completely at sea about what to do was of no consequence to my dour-faced new boss, whose withering look and caustic tongue could shrink oneself into a lowly cockroach for him to stomp on.
They didn't have pre-training for aspiring scribes those days; you get thrown into the deepest end and you either sink or swim. There was no one to hold your hands either.
It is true what they say about this year's Merdeka Day celebrations; the mood was sombre, the tone subdued. Less people flew the flags, and from my 10th floor window last night, even the fireworks weren't as spectacular as before. There was no gaiety in the air. My feeling of despondency has yet to lift...