I was born in Bukit Kapar Klang. My father used to work as a labor in an oil palm mill in Bukit Kapar estate. I was there until 1984. I lived there from the day I born till I was 6th. I have an eldest brother I called Along. When I was 4, I have my first younger brother and another 1 followed 5 years later.
I was the only one child among all my brothers delivered in the hand of traditional midwife (bidan kampung). To make it exact, she was Nenek Tomblok. A respected midwife and also known as bomoh in Kampung Bukit Kapar, Bukit Kerayong and Bukit Kucing Selangor. I was the only one in my family born at home. The rest was born in hospital and other than me all born by caesarean method.
According to my father, it’s easier to look after me as I’m very challenging just that… I’m too sensitive. My parents have told me this story. Else I wouldn’t know it. At the age of 2, I already followed my mother to go and help her in sorting the palm oil kernel as an extra income to topup my father’s RM10 per day salary.
It’s a bit fairly tales if I say I’ve been blessed with all wonderful people around me. In the real fact, I wasn’t blessed with any helpful siblings. My Along (eldest) was always be my fighting mate until I was 15th. Until the time we stepped out from our house and away from each other (i went for study and he went for work). My next brother was born with his right arm broken during the vacum suction in the Klang hospital at the labor room. That what made him special. Whenever he didn’t like me or Along for whatever or no reason he will cry like nobody business, and I got smacked (kena rotan) by my father. Well, maybe I shouldn’t comment about this longer as their chapter will come along this series.
As my parents lived in the estate quarters, I had more Indian friends than Malay. Until 1 point, my late mother and father can really speak Tamil very well. Mom got more as she also watched Hindustan every week. At the age of 4, with so many Indian friends, I’ve been ventured into so many extreme activities including mandi parit. It was totally an Estate Life. The Indian boys’ survivability in that very estate taught me about how life can be very wonderful without racism. My friends was mostly Indian. My parents’ friends too were Indian. We ate together sometime at their house sometime at my house. My mom told me, she have to tell all my friends’ mother if I went there for lunch, please feed me with vegetarian food. Likewise, they asked my mother not to feed their kids with beef.
I still remember an old lady in the neighborhood. I wasn’t sure about her real name but she is the mother to Subra (my father’s work mate) and my dad always called him Misai. Automatically, Misai’s mother been called “Mak Misai”. She was just like my grandmother as my grandmother seldom came to visit at our old house in Bukit Kapar.
At the age of 5, I was still there. I started begging my mom to go to school. The estate manager was very generous to hire a teacher privately to educate us (Estate and Mill’s workers’ kids). Among my best friends during that time was Siva, Murthi and Saravanan. We are just like brothers. We play together, eat together, learn together and even sleep together. Our house were just a few steps away from each other. In the kindergarten, we got to know Li Teng (not sure the real spelling). His father worked as the estate manager stayed at a biiiiigg bungalow next to the mill. Li Teng was along in his first day class. Murthi, Saravanan, Siva and I approached him and play together. We never know who is Chinese, who is Indian and who is Malay because we feel like no different.
We were very good friends after that. We even blessed with a “lorry” of toys at Li Teng’s house that we never imagine to own it. After sometimes, Li Teng too…..became our team for Mandi Parit. That game became merrier after we managed to catch a snake-head fish (haruan) in that parit. It was just a small fish but we managed to get it by using a mosquito net. We didn’t bring it home. Instead, we cooked the fish right away. It was simple, put-up a fire and put the fish inside the fire and burnt it.
We meet each other in a clinic in the next day… (To be continued)