Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Malaysia Truly Asia 2010

I'm sitting in a living room 4,449km away from home right now; and suddenly, I feel homesick, nostalgic and grateful, all at once.

Funny how it takes watching an ad by Tourism Malaysia on Australian TV to feel grateful for the wonder and beauty our humble country has been so blessed with. For one, the scenery our country has to offer, when seen through the lens of advertising and production professionals, is simply amazing. And even if we discount the visual wonders, I love, love, love the song – An Ordinary Day by Natasha Ines Wah Idris. (I actually have it looping on my iTunes even as I write.)

Malaysia truly is an all-round beautiful country.

You know, the only person who ever brought me around to catch glimpses of the wonders Malaysia had in store for its people, was my late maternal grandfather. My Kong Kong. But because I was young and he was ageing, we didn't get to go very far. Nothing beyond the shores of Penang – the little island I grew up on. But whatever there was, whenever he could, he'd bring me to see colourful sights few would have the opportunity of seeing today.

It was on his bike, in his arms, or by his side that I first visited Penang Island's many places of interest. It was with him that I witnessed first hand, the diverse cultures and practices of our nation's people through various celebrations and festivals. It was him who opened my eyes to how different we all are; how similar we all are on the inside. And how there should be no prejudice no matter our background, religion or colour.

As a child, I watched strong men balance flags a million times their size during the Ching Gay Festival. I climbed a thousand steps to see turtles at Kek Lok Si Temple. Then watched a hundred snakes get lulled into a hypnotic state by the smoke of joss sticks at the Snake Temple. I danced through painted streets and threw coconuts during Thaipusam. I even talked to a devotee while he was having his back pierced for the kavadi procession. And that's just the half of it.

There was always so much to do.
So much to see. So much to learn.

And I loved every minute of it.

I think I'm just reminiscing the days now, with no real point in mind. But that's where the music is taking me. So that's where I'm going.

I remember the days when Kong Kong and I would sneak out the back door with his home made galah and steal bright red rambutans from our evil neighbour's tree. "Anything beyond the fence was free for all," we thought. Obviously, the evil neighbour thought otherwise. But we did it anyway. Me, for the fun and excitement of doing the forbidden. And he never told me but I think Kong Kong did it just to piss them off for kicks. Haha.

I remember chopping down sugarcane, cutting them into bite-sized pieces and chewing on them for hours on end till their sweetness ran out. I remember salty soaked guava slices. I remember salted egg rice. And I remember salted fish porridge. I remember TV lunches and TV teas and TV dinners. I remember living in a world where TV shows ran on and on without advertisements.

I remember worn out Pagoda singlets. I remember small Good Morning towels. I remember the blue potty. I remember my little red cup. I remember neat newspaper towers. I remember folded notes. I remember full pockets. I remember short-sleeved shirts. I remember that ochre helmet. I also remember how it never used to sit right. As didn't Kong Kong when he was on his bike. Always lopped to one side.

I remember the day I got the call. I remember sitting in the comp lab at Taylor's College Subang Jaya. I remember the voice on the phone looking for Mee and not for me. I remember the apologies for the sudden announcement. I remember the confusion during the moment. I remember the anger when realisation set in. And I remember the sadness of loss. My loss. For he was more mine than he was anybody elses.

It's been 7 and a half years since then. And still my teachers and friends remember me through the man he was. Some skirt around the subject then cautiously ask if he's still around. If he's still a motorbike ride away. And always, I laugh a reply as casually as I can. But inside, I break.

Kong Kong is the one man whom I can promise you, loved me more than he loved life itself. He was the one who showed me how selfless love could be. He was the who who helped me realise that when it comes to showing someone you love them, you can't just talk about it. You've got to show it. Thinking back, I don't believe he ever told me that he loved me. But I knew it. Cos I felt it. I. Felt. Loved.

Sometimes, I wish he'd have left at a later time in my life. Perhaps at a time when I was no longer the teenager I was back in 2003. Because I know I'd have done it all differently. You see, his death didn't exactly come as a surprise. We had a few months. To get used to the idea, to prepare ourselves, to shower him with love, and to say our goodbyes.

But I was still to immature then to understand how final – how conclusive – death really was. And upon looking back, I came to realise that I'd actually squandered those precious last months on the most forgettable of experiences. Experiences that didn't quite include him. So now, I live with the regret of never having given him a proper 'goodbye' or having told him how much I loved him or just how much he meant to me.

So to feel better about yesterday's mistakes, I look many tomorrows ahead. Because it is then that I know that not all is lost. For he isn't. Kong Kong is saved. Baptised, even. And just in the nick of time, too. =) So yeah, there will come a time when we'll meet again. Some day, some place even more wonderful than Malaysia can ever be. And hey, who knows? Maybe he'll be the one to show me around again. =)


min said...

that's beautiful.
thanks for sharing pam...

Pam Song said...

ATTN: min
– Glad you liked it, Min. =)

Melsong said...

You made me cry and miss him all over again.

Pam Song said...

ATTN: Melsong
– =)

Lissa said...


Pam Song said...

ATTN: Lissa
– =)

Reubz said...

Wonder if bring you to steal the neighbour's rambutans again...

Pam Song said...

ATTN: Reubz
– Haha. I dun mind. I like rambutans!

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