Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tale of a Scary (?) Flick

When was the last time you head for the movies? Over the recent weekend? Last week? Last month? Dare I say last year?

Me, I don't remember, but Pak Abu, whose memory beats me hands down each time, said we have not gone near a cinema since we returned from the Hajj, and that was in January 2009.

Ever since the old man and I got hitched a decade ago, we have been to the cinema all of five or six times, averaging one movie in every two years. Not bad, considering how much I shun tengok wayang.

The abovementioned forays, by the way, were strictly for creepy films, one of the two genres I do not mind, the other being animation. Except for The Others, The Ring and Shutters, I can't recall the other two (or three).

(I watched a few other spine-tingling stuffs such as Blair Witch Project, Sixth Sense, Paranormal Activities etc in the comfort of my living room].

There is no specific reason for this disinclination towards the cinema. I'm just not drawn to films and couldn't care less about theatre offerings either. Neither do I like concerts and stageshows.

People who knew me from back then would probably find this strange, considering I spent the last few years of my journalistic career as an entertainment writer for an afternoon daily.

Those were the early years of TV3 when Mahadzir Lokman, Wan Zaleha Radzi, Ezzah Aziz Fauzi, Norfarahin Jamsari and Fuad Rahman held court, a time when TV3 and the NST group were part of a big family.

A time when Klang-born and bred Fauziah Latif was just a skinny and shy Form Five kid with sawo matang skin and big ears, but one who sang like a nightingale.

And of course, a time when singing diva Sharifah Aini couldn't bear to hear my name mentioned without going all prickly, all because I occasionally wrote critical reviews about her performances.

But I digress, we're talking films.

Once, there was a 14-year span (the entire duration of my single-momhood, actually) between one visit to the cinema and the other.

In 1987, not long after the big 'D', I went with some friends to watch comedy flick Ruthless People starring Danny de Vito and Bette Midler. It was meant to lift my flagging spirit, and it did.

I didn't step into a movie theatre again until 2001, when Pak Abu took me to watch Pearl Harbour. By then it was called cineplex (and looked and felt) eons better than the dilapidated, cramped panggung wayang of old.

It was there, in one darkened cineplex in One Utama, that I learned firsthand my new mate's peculiarity; he snored contentedly as the Japs rained bombs on the hapless harbour.

Way back in the '60s and '70s, when filem Hindustan was the rage, my best friend Hamidah, an avid fan, would regale me with long-winded tales of dramas, romances and tragedies dished out by such films.

I couldn't stomach the screenplays, but loved the songs. Only three people seemed to be singing all the playbacks then; Mohamad Rafi, Lata Mangeskha and Asha Bosle.

In 1971, whilst in Ipoh spending my school holidays with my paternal grandparents (read here), I was taken by an aunt to watch my first ever Hindi movie; Hatti Mere Sathi, about the elephant.

It would be almost three decades later (in the late 1990s) when I saw my second Hindi film, and that too out of curiosity.

The family was then living in Section 11, Subang Jaya, our (haunted) house facing the municipal council (MPSJ) padang.

Each Sunday some kind of aerobics would be held there, during which the song Kuch Kuch Ho Ta Hei would be played full blast.

The weekly blare (it went on for several months) finally got to me; I asked the kids to buy a VCD of the film so I could watch it at home. It didn't disappoint but like before, I only appreciated the songs.

And so my 'tak kisah' attitude towards the cinema in general continued, until recently when there were so much hoohas about a spate of Malay horror flicks.

I was so intrigued by discussions about Hantu Kak Limah Balik Rumah that I went out to purchase both Hantu Kak Limah.. and its prequel Zombi Kampung Pisang.

Thankfully, both were decent enough pictures and I found myself appreciating their directorial efforts. In fact, I'm not surprised that Zombi Kampung Pisang has reached cult status locally.

There were talks about how scary Jangan Pandang Belakang was, so I got a copy of that too. Fifteen minutes into it, I still couldn't make head or tail of the storyline. In fact, the movie seemed to progress from silliness to absurdity.

I wasn't anywhere near getting scared; far from it. Peeved, I gave up watching whilst Pak Abu plodded on valiantly. He concluded on a 'blur' note as well, poor man.

It was not until a couple of days later, when I mentioned my disappointment to son Naj, that he said: "You must have bought the spoof la Mak. It's called Jangan Pandang Belakang Congkak 2."

Patutla! Small wonder I couldn't connect at all. And so, I still owe myself Jangan Pandang Belakang... I am hoping to be scared out of my wits.. boleh?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Day of The Hajj Buddies

Diminutive Kak Nor, mother of the groom, with moi. Forgive me if you keep seeing the same old baju. I absolutely love this comfortable Japanese cotton kurung and wear it often, especially to day weddings.

Awat Pak Arshad, terkekeh2 sampai tertunduk tu? Pak Abu and his 'Hajj Buddy' sharing a joke..

Soft-spoken Masnah, my 'Hajj Buddy' who hails from Tanjung Karang, Selangor, demure as always..

Baby blue's the theme colour of the day at Faezal and Nordiana's reception. And a three-tiered wedding cake with blue icing, no less..

Day of the Hajj Buddies

She gave us all a scare during our Hajj pilgrimage three years ago when she passed out one cool morning on our second day in Mina.

I touched her feet; they were cold. Panic-stricken, I searched for her pulse, and found it, before scrambling to find help and to locate her husband in one of the tents some metres away.

Kak Nor, a diabetic, was on insulin jabs twice daily. In the hustle and bustle of Mina with its millions of pilgrims congregating under a sea of white tents, and the rush to the Jamrah for 'Stoning of the Devil' ritual, she had forgotten about those all-important jabs.

It didn't help that she had also undergone a heart bypass not long before the trip to the Holy Land. Although frail in health, she did manage to live up to the rigours of the pilgrimage.

Kak Nor and Masnah (pix above) were amongst the six women, myself included, sharing a room in Qutubah Barakah Hotel, Makkah, during the Hajj 2008 season.

In Dar As-Salam Hotel, Medinah, the two ladies and I were again together, whilst their respective husbands shared a room with Pak Abu.

Kak Nor and I prayed side by side on the barren plains of Arafah. In Mina, she slept next to me during our four-day encampment. After 40 days of togetherness in the Holy Land, it was inevitable that we became firm friends.

I found a kindred spirit in this pint-sized grandmother of 11. She was the only one amongst my roommates who spoke fluent English, and she understood perfectly where awkward me was coming from.

Her husband Haji Ahmad is an ex-army man who used to serve as Defence Attache at the Malaysian High Commission in New Delhi. Upon retirement he joined a Tabung Haji subsidiary.

We kept in touch after coming home; meeting in One Utama for coffee and such. Pak Abu and I had also visited their modest single-storey bungalow in a charming kampung called Sri Kundang near Sungai Buloh, just half-hour drive away from where we live.

Last week the couple dropped by our place to deliver a wedding invitation; their pilot son Faezal was finally ready to settle down. Thus, at noon today Pak Abu and I made yet another trip to Sri Kundang, this time to honour the newlyweds at their wedding reception.

Traffic was light, rendering the drive a smooth one. We took the Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP) and went past Sungai Buloh and Rahman Putra before taking a right turn just beyond Sungai Plong.

The reception was a reunion of sorts too; we met again our 'Hajj Buddies' Masnah and Arshad who live in nearby Tanjung Karang. Kak Nor wasn't expecting the rest because they all live out of state.

I have always enjoyed rambling out of the city and today's short foray was no different. Meeting old friends had made this particular trip twice as memorable.

To Faezal and Nordiana, Selamat Pengantin Baru. May your union be blessed with lots of love and happiness. And Auntie Puteri awaits an invitation to marhaban at majlis cukur jambul in no time at all....

Friday, February 18, 2011

Revisiting Willy (Revised)

Nobody in his/her right mind gets hitched with the overt intention of splitting in the foreseeable future, unless if one is in it for a very specific purpose, like cina buta (but that's a story for another day).

And if you are well and truly insane, you have no business marrying. it's not even legit, in the first place. Your place is in a hospital psychiatric ward, or shelter for the mentally ill, and not a matrimonial home.

By the same token, if you have been too exuberant with your willy to the extent of impregnating your lady love (who happens to be someone's daughter), you have to pay the price by making an honest woman out of her.

You may not be too happy being held to ransom like this, but to all and sundry, how you feel doesn't count. You play, you pay. There's no free ride, unless you're riding the village bicycle, in which case I shall keep my mouth shut.

These disjointed thoughts bore on me as I stood amongst combs of newly-arrived Dole bananas in Jusco supermarket this morning, contemplating between pisang tanduk and pisang berangan for the house. Power of association, as always.

Be that as it may, it is safe to say that a great majority of us marry with the hope that the union will last till death do us part. To a select few, however, the script is revised to "till your empty pockets do us part."

It dawned on me how many couples I know have headed towards Splitsville these past ten years since I took a second plunge into marriage after giving 14 years of my life the first time around, only to see it hopelessly unravelled.

The subsequent 14 years were spent as a single mom raising four kids; good, fruitful years that made me realise single-parenthood, painful and heart-rending at times, could also be very rewarding.

Let's just put things in their proper perspectives. Getting married is good and staying married is better. But getting divorced is advisable if staying married doesn't seem like a viable option anymore.

And the earlier you cut your losses the better. Never use your children as an excuse ("we're still together because of the kids"). That's bollocks and you know it. Any which way the kids suffer and you know that too.

It's up to you to prolong their suffering (and yours too alongside), or to remedy the situation. Doing nothing only means you both are just too cowardly to face the truth and the inevitable.

There are many reasons for marital breakup, far too many in fact, with infidelity right there at the top of the totem pole and spousal abuse coming a close second.

[Wish I had held on to that darn newspaper clipping about the statistics; stowed them away for months with the intention of writing a related piece some day, but threw them away recently whilst spring-cleaning my trays, and now regretting it!]

What really prompted me to write this piece is a comment designed to hurt, made by a man who recently traded his wife of three decades for an SYT.

It's the same old crap, really, when a man said his decades-old marriage was a sham, that living with the wife had been hell, that she didn't care for him or love him enough. In other words, the old standby "My wife doesn't understand me."

I realise it's quite common for long-married (but not necessarily faithful) men to utter similar sentiments to their new, much younger love. And the idiot of a woman would swallow it, line hook and sinker, tearfully commiserating with him, not realizing what a great actor he was.

It's the kind of scene to be played again and again in the future, when one relationship ends and another begins. Only the bit player and supporting cast change; the leading man remains the same.

It's fine to be deceitful and play the field for all it is worth. No one can stop you. After all you only have yourself to answer for it when the time comes. You will be held accountable in front of Him, so be it.

All your lying and conniving will then be laid bare for His judgement. Then again, who gives a rat's arse about God and stuff when they are in the deepest throes of lust? (I don't think 'love' justifies it).

I am of the opinion that all things considered, warring or divorced partners (myself included) should never deny there were good moments in their erstwhile marriage. Only a hypocrite would.

Those years couldn't have been all bad. After all, we did produce a string of kids, didn't we? We certainly were on speaking terms when we were humping away, were we not?

So stop lying through your teeth! Give credit where credit is due. Once upon a time we were in love, and then for whatever reason, that love died. It was that simple. Just admit it and move on.

The root of the matter, really, is that men in general find it hard to be faithful. One is never enough. Variety is the name of the game.

They may chortle and say; "Alah, benda tu, sama aja semua" to cover their thoughts and actions, but reality begs to differ; benda tu are not the same. Therein lies the curiosity. It's Pudenda Power, and these men know it.

I have a bit of advice for those ladies who have been cast aside by erring spouses and now hopelessly adrift. Wake up to reality. Let the fleabags go, for they don't love you anymore. If they do, they wouldn't have hurt your feelings.

They wouldn't have laid with other women, even if they had harboured intentions to, or had dreamed it. Thinking about it and doing it are two different things. They would have honoured their marriage vows despite all the temptations.

To him, you are history. So accept it, rise above the occasion and move on. Show him you are in full control of your destiny. Let him know that his departure is a blessing and not a blight.

There are better things out there for the taking. Heck, for all your know, darn better willies too! Remember, you too have the power - Pudenda Power - and it will come in handy one fine day, believe me.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bunny Year, Bunny Thoughts..

Convention dictates that I, at the age of 56 going 57, not to mention a mother of four and stepmother of three, should already have a son- or daughter-in-law or two in tow.

Convention also dictates that because the first three of the brood are already in their early- to mid-30s, they should have married and procreated like rabbits by now.

Further, convention also dictates that because the remaining four have all hurtled past the quarter century mark (although they have yet to reach 30), they should, at the very least, have potential mates in mind.

Now, Pak Abu's a step away from 60. Mak Labu too is closing in. Whither 'em menantus? Cucus? Anyone listening?

[Just my thoughts running gamut today....]

PS: Or shall I shower and 'simbah' them all with 'air bunga'? With water collected in 'buluh betung' from 7 'hulu sungai'? The mind boggles..

Menantu - son/daughter in law
Cucu - grandchild
Simbah - drench
Air bunga - water laden with fragrant petals
Buluh betung - bamboo
Hulu sungai - upper part of a river

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

MummyCat & Co II

Awwa's buddy Shaun with one of the kittens while Jason looks on. That's Jo, Shaun's lovely wife, on the left.

Jacque, petite and soft-spoken, cuddling the other kitten..

It has been six days since I last wrote. I don't usually lay off this long between blog posts, but time has not been on my side lately.

Also, the presence of MummyCat and her two kittens took a chunk of my time, especially in keeping peace between the existing feline residents (who else but Awang and Lillie) and the newcomers.

The duo have never taken too kindly to fellow felines and that had given me cause for worry, what with all the uncomfortable feeling all around. The ill-will was quite palpable, if I must say so.

Anyway, I bring good tidings with this posting. Sweet-natured MummyCat and her frisky kittens (one male, one female) have been re-homed, thanks to Awwa's friend Jason Voon and his lovely lady, Jacque.

The young couple, who live in Damansara Kim, PJ, had earlier wanted just a kitten, but had decided to take home all three after meeting MummyCat and brood.

They just didn't have the heart to separate mumsie and kids. Bless their good, loving hearts. It helps that they have ample space for the trio to run around too..

Now that things are a lot more settled, I can continue with my blogging. There are a thousand and one things I want to write about..

PS: Saw pictures of the lucky felines in their new home, put up by Jason on Facebook. Lovely images of them exploring their new surroundings. Alhamdulillah..

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Please Adopt Me..

Mummy cat enjoying the morning sun.

Temporarily caged to avoid 'kena luku' by Awang and Lillie.

Chowtime on the sidewalk at Nawwar's office.

Two weeks back, some despicable scrap of humanity had placed a large covered box right smack in the middle of the road fronting my daughter Nawwar's office in Mutiara Damansara.

Inside were a young mummy cat and her litter of four. Thankfully, the road is a side street and not the main thoroughfare, otherwise all five would have been mincemeat before the day was over.

A colleague of Nawwar saw the box, took a peek and quickly moved it to the sidewalk. And that was how Nawwar ended up feeding the poor darlings daily with kibbles bought from a nearby convenience store.

She also prepared a box behind the door of her office entrance so that the kittens would not wander down the stairs to the road.

Before leaving for home each day, she would take the box out and place it in a nook on the sidewalk, together with food and water, bringing it back in when she arrived for work the following day.

Two of the four kittens, the cuter-looking ones, went missing a few days later. We would like to think that they had been taken home by some Good Samaritans because they weren't to be found nearby.

With the Chinese New Year holidays looming last week, we were naturally worried about the safety and well-being of the remaining three. We just didn't have the heart to leave them be.

But taking them home would be tricky too, for, not only we live in a highrise, there are already two cats at home, despite the condo having 'no-pet' bylaws (which everybody broke and the management had thankfully chosen to close one eye).

In the end we decided to take them to Dr Christine of Christie's Ark, our regular vet in Damansara Uptown, to be examined, dewormed, cleaned and boarded until the holiday break was over.

Just as well, because mummy cat had a pretty bad gash on a front paw. The cut required a few stitches and she had to be anaesthetised for it. The swelling, thankfully, has subsided.

I took them home yesterday, all clean and sweet-smelling. Awang and Lillie, territorial spoilt brats that they are, weren't too happy with the presence of these 'intruders'.

The mother is very sweet-natured and trusting. Fifty years of experience with cats told me that this mother wasn't a stray but someone's pet that was discarded not long after having her litter.

She's comfortable around strangers; you can cradle her without a fuss and she enjoys being stroked and rubbed. I let her out of the cage for brief periods so she can take in the sunshine on the balcony.

I am looking for a home for this adorable mom and her two frisky kittens and I'm willing to send them, as far as Kuala Selangor or Seremban (or anywhere within a two-hour drive), if need be.

I hate the idea of sending them to SPCA; the very thought of cats in cages for months upsets me. They are not meant to be imprisoned. They must be allowed to roam free.

However, if there are no takers, I may have to reconsider, unpalatable as the option may be. I would love dearly to keep them, but that's just not possible.

So please, people, if you want a pet and know of any who do, let me know. I can't thank you enough for it. May Allah swt bless you.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

To Sir With Love II

Yours truly, Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Besi headgirl and the tallest in class (even amongst the boys!). There were only 11 of us girls in Std 6A, 1966. The 4th girl from right is Hamidah (story here), my best buddy in school.

Seated 4th from right is Cikgu Din, our class teacher whilst seated on extreme right is Yusof Ahmad, the headboy, who eventually went to Sekolah Dato' Abdul Razak (SDAR), Tanjung Malim.

Those long-ago days, boys wore shorts throughout primary school and prefects only donned pants on special occasions. Obviously, taking class pictures wasn't special enough.. :-D
Cikgu Din and his erstwhile pupil, 45 years on..

Tesco Damansara adjacent to The Curve is unfamiliar territory for I rarely venture out this far, my usual haunt being One Utama.

I was in Tesco only because I had learned that they open early (at 8 am) and close late (at 1 am) during the current holidays, and that they have two-tier shoe racks on sale, at RM8.88 as opposed to the usual price of RM13.90.

Considering that our family of four have more than 70 pairs of footwear between us, of which 7 are mine and 5 are Pak Abu's (why do these daughters of mine buy shoes like there's no tomorrow?), those stackable racks would definitely come in handy.

So there I was, deftly negotiating the aisles of Tesco pushing a still-empty shopping cart, with annoyingly wobbly wheels too, when the mobile rang.

What a pleasant surprise it was to hear the bubbly voice, with its charming Terengganu accent, at the other end of the line. It was Cikgu Samsudin Jusoh, known to all and sundry as Cikgu Din, my much-loved Primary One school teacher!

Cikgu Din and I renewed our acquaintance in March last year after a 44-year hiatus, at a very memorable school reunion held in Bukit Besi, Terengganu, where I was born and raised.

He was in town visiting his children and grandkids and had wanted to drop by our place before leaving for Dungun, where he lives, later in the day. Naturally, I was only too happy to have him and his family.

Cikgu Din, now in his 70s and rather frail physically (but very alert mentally), was much more than just a teacher. He was my beacon, my guiding light, my inspiration.

Even at such a tender age, I knew love when I saw one; I had loved him like a father, and he had reciprocated with absolute kindness.

I knew he had a soft spot for this gangly, fatherless girl he had taught from Standard One to Standard Six. He was steady and firm but never harsh, and was always full of advice and encouragement.

His ears were the first to hear of my aspiration to become a journalist. I must have been 12 then, in the final year of primary school, about to embark on yet another of life's journeys; the secondary school life.

He knew me as a voracious reader who loved writing and English and poetry, thus roped me in with clockwork regularity for school plays and debates.

He was my pillar of strength, who told me in no uncertain terms that I would succeed in my chosen vocation. It was those very words that had helped instil self-confidence that eventually shaped my future.

I had carried Cikgu Din in my heart throughout the years, always wondering if I would ever see him again. My feelings had never wavered, my affection intact.

And now, in the autumn of my life, we are reunited. Each time I kiss those withered old hands, I feel like a daughter lucky and blessed; Thank you God for bringing him back into my life....

Friday, February 4, 2011

Bilah's New Beginnings...

Newlyweds Adnan and Nabilah; their first picture as husband and wife, taken soon after the solemnisation of their marriage this morning.

Radiant bride Nabilah and her identical twin, Naquiyah.

The bride's seven trays of gifts and the groom's reciprocal five, as per tradition.

From left: The young kadhi with the bride's eldest brother and wali Nabil, paternal uncle Najib and maternal uncle Zulkarnain who stood as two of the four witnesses.

Adnan presenting his bride with her maskawin of gold and diamond bracelet.

With long-lost relatives - Emah and her daughter Shifa - who have been off my radar for a while due to distance and various commitments. As a schoolgirl, Emah used to be a state tennis champion and national player. Daughter Shifa, home for the holidays, is currently pursuing her post-graduate studies abroad. On the right is my daughter, Nawwar.


The children welcome a new in-law today when their cousin Nabilah, daughter of their late Pak Utih Nazri (younger brother to the kids' dad), who passed away two years ago, tied the knot after a year-long engagement.

The 'aqad' ceremony was held at Masjid Wilayah Persekutuan in Jalan Duta this morning, witnessed by some 100 relatives and friends.

The 24 year-old bride looked resplendent in an unfussy modern kurung of pink chiffon and off-white satin, a lightly-beaded headgear, and holding a bouquet of pink and white roses.

Her eldest brother Nabil acted as wali and gave her away. The young father of three however created ripples of laughter when he tripped during the solemnisation ceremony.

Holding the groom's hand, Nabil was to have uttered the standard 'niqah' statement of ''Aku nikahkan dikau ..." (I wed thee to ...)

Instead, looking as apprehensive as the groom himself, he clasped his future brother-in-law's hand and nervously intoned "Aku terima nikahnya...." (I thee wed...), thus accepting the covenant for himself, before he realised the blunder.

It took a while for the hoots and guffaws to subside before the ceremony could restart. Oh Nabil, I do hope you didn't have pasang cawangan thoughts in mind when you tripped on the words!

To Nabilah and Adnan, Selamat Pengantin Baru. May Allah keep you both in His blessings and may you have a happy, contented married life and be blessed with beautiful zuriat. Ameen.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A CNY 'Misadventure'

I love it when a big chunk of the city population balik kampung for the extended holidays, leaving us transplanted city folks with the rare pleasure of peace and quiet brought forth by deserted streets and shuttered shoplots.

All that Pak Abu and I had wanted to do earlier in the evening was take a leisurely drive around the city centre, and perhaps pop in Kampung Baru or somewhere in the vicinity for a quick bite. We had certainly not bargained for a mini drama, albeit of Pak Abu's own doing, thrown in.

The drive had somehow led us to Wadi Hadramawt in Jalan Ampang where the family had dined in celebration of my birthday last October. Highly popular with locals and tourists alike (Arabs especially), the place was always packed and this time it was no different.

We found a nook by the entrance and sat down. After placing our order of lamb mandey, a mixed plate of fattoush, hummus and tabbouleh for starters, baklava for dessert, and mint tea, we settled in to wait.

That was when Pak Abu looked at me quizzically and asked: "Where's my wallet?" Naturally I had no answer to that because I wasn't in the habit of carrying his clutch bag for him.

[By 'wallet' he had meant his smallish, black leather clutch bag into which went everything; cash and cards, IC and diving licence, bills and receipts, and scraps of heaven knows what else].

A quick search in the car revealed nothing. On top of that, I had very little cash in my purse, for I had not bothered going to the teller machine earlier. Thirty quids was all I had on me.

We knew the clutch bag wasn't accidentally left at home because we had stopped by Petronas petrol station in Taman Tun to top up the tank before leaving.

Then it hit him: "Oh God, I must have left it on the table at Petronas when I was filling in the contest participation form!" [Worse, the table was outside, by the main door, in full view of and within reach by everyone].

There was nothing left to do but cancel our order and rush back to Taman Tun, hoping against hope that the bag would still be there or had been taken for safekeeping by the petrol station staff.

Our fervent, desperate prayers were thankfully answered, Syukur Alhamdulillah. The bag was sitting pretty, untouched, where Pak Abu had left it.

And that was how we ended up eating plain rice, telur bungkus, kerabu mangga and udang masak cili with petai in our Kelantan-Thai regular haunt, Santai. So much for lamb mandey...

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Kama wishes all her Chinese readers and friends
a happy and prosperous New Year.

Selamat menyambut Tahun Arnab!