I was born in the Bukit Mertajam General Hospital and grown up till 3 and then before I celebrated my 4th birthday, my parents moved to Kuala Lumpur. My elder brother spent some years at school in Bukit Mertajam, I did not.
Whenever it is a school holiday, my parents, mainly our father will take us back to Bukit Mertajam to stay with my grandparents. They used to operate a sundry shop in Bukit Tengah, where the famous curry powder producer – Alagappa located. The shop is now rented out to someone else to run the business where my grandparent heirs are managing the real estates that belong to the grandparents.
Just like typical Chinese families, the sons got everything while daughters, to have marriage arranged and then moved out of the family, and gets nothing.
I remember after my father passed away when I was about to enter into college, I spoke to my uncles about study loan, since we used most of the funds left by my father to pay for the house we rented for many years, before we would be chased out. One of my uncle was very generous to answer that call. He sent me a cheque for my college entrance and subsequently he sent other cheques for me to complete my studies.
During the studying, I also asked if I could loan one of his Honda EX5 for me to commune to college as well as a family vehicle to move about whenever my mother needed to, we did not own any car, neither I have a driving licence until much later. My uncle said instead of him sending one of his old EX5, why not he passed me another cheque to pay for a downpayment for a new bike in Kuala Lumpur. Which, I did. For the downpayment settled, I took the hire purchase for the remaining payment of the bike. To pay that, I started working part time during my off study hours. Used to work in supermarket, waiter at the 5-star hotels etc. However later realised that to make the same amount of money as in supermarket, waited table, with lesser hours, I found jobs in the hotel banquet kitchen, which I worked twice a week during the weekend, or sometimes, the chef will schedule us on week day evening if there were corporate annual dinners or the sort, which then I could earn extra.
I also did some tuition of which only needed my time during the week days. I was tasked by the owner of the centre to teach English for the primary 2 and 4. I saved most of this money for paying my transportation and food etc during the studies.
To be honest, I did not have any girlfriend that time, or in fact for a really long time until much later I met 2 and then the love of my life Retna. I was kind of a different type of male compares to my other classmates. I was not interested with pretty girls, neither interested about sexual illusion with girls. I guess, when your pocket is kind of empty, you think about how to fill the pockets first, that is your priority.
Since I started college, I seldom return to Penang to see my uncles and aunties except when it was the Chinese New Year. I think it is kind of hard to go back so often as there was cost involved in the traveling, taking train, bus etc.
My uncles and aunties are always really kind to us whenever we go back to visit them. I remember my uncles used to tell me to study and work hard so that their efforts on us would not go to waste.
We went back with the kids when one of uncle died of cancer some years back, it was a really sad moment for me, especially, since I really close with this uncle and missed him dearly. He took the path of enjoying his life and decided chemo would be stumbling block for his kind of life, so he forego that, he did not live really long after he diagnosed with cancer.
Another time was a really sad moment for me was when our grandmother passed away. Retna remembers her as no nonsense kind of iron lady. She smoked with her roll-up tobacco which at some point of time I think she may have grown this herself 🙂
When she met Elijah and Ariel few times, she smoked while speaking to them, telling them, rather warning them not to mess things up in life LOL. She was so proud and happy to have twins great grandchildren. She kept the picture of herself with twins around so that she could show her joyous moment with many of her friends.
I guess life will come to an end eventually. Just live it to the best we could. We are unable to change many things, but one thing we could, is to take care of our families.