Saturday, May 31, 2014

THE UNSEEN

Do I believe in spirits, and ghosts? Sure I do, and I also believe that an open mind is one that can be richer in knowledge. 

I am sure when we were young, most of us would have wondered, at least about one specific ‘unseen’ thing. We could feel it, yet could not see it. We have lived with it and benefited by it!  Yes, I am talking about air. We know it exists from our very own breath as we inhale it, and by movements of trees it causes. We do not deny its existence, even though we cannot see air. Then, we do believe in something of the ‘unseen’. 

We are also aware of our own souls that keep us alive. Likewise, spirits, and ghosts also exist, even though they are not visible to our naked eyes. Some people have the ability to see, and feel their presence.This is not extraordinary in many parts of the world.

To believe in the unseen is inculcated in many cultures, at an early age. It encompasses the belief that the soul leaves the body, at a pre-determined time, beyond our control. It leaves the body, even without sickness, like in accidents. When a body is devoid of soul, it turns cold, decomposes, and crumbles (unless preserved). So, where does the soul go to?  Each culture has its own interpretation. However, what remains in conformity, is the belief, that the soul eventually leaves the body, when the time comes.  It then goes to another destination. 

SCIENCE AND PROGRESS
When science came into existence, what were invisible to the naked eyes, and could not be proven scientifically, were often dismissed as superstitions. In the old days, many people were compelled to disguise their beliefs, and practices, so as not to be mocked at, or persecuted. Spiritual healing that existed since the beginning of time, was looked upon as witchcraft.  Many innocents who practiced this craft, were condemned, and some, turned into human torches.   

BELIEFS
Today, despite science and its undeniable contributions to progress, believers remain steadfast in their beliefs. Views on souls, spirits, and ghosts remain unchanged in most cultures. To believe or not to believe, regardless, topics on the unseen continue to fascinate inquisitive minds. Theories on Creation, souls, spirits, ghosts, are continuously theorized, speculated, and debated upon. Despite open assaults by skeptics, unexplainable phenomenon continue to intrigue, and fascinate the world. 

Hollywood capitalized, and reaped harvests in movies like ‘Ghost’ starring Patrick Swayze, and Demi Moore.  Movies on vampires (Twilight Sage), demons, immortality, continue to become blockbusters. Perhaps, views and mindsets of present day viewers, are changing!

Today, I will relate my personal encounter with a ghost, that some may conclude as ‘ironic phenomenon’.  

Singapore, my favorite city
I loved this city. In the 70s, it was a more vibrant city, compared to Kuala Lumpur. There were varieties of trendy clothes, shoes, cosmetics, to choose from. Everything was cheap then, because the Malaysian ringgit was at par with the Singapore dollar. I felt like a jet-set traveler flying for a holiday to my favorite city, each time I went for my recording.

The Royal Ramada
The late Daisy Devan, the A.R. Manager (EMI), would often arrange my accommodation close to the studio, situated at Mc Donald House, in Orchard Road. Over the years, I stayed at several hotels. Most were pleasant except for one that was too far out, and did not turn out well for me. It was the Royal Ramada.

The hotel bed was the worst I have ever slept in, despite being graded as a 4-5 star hotel.  The hotel proper was nice, and the room was also fine, but the mattress was extremely hard. It was like sleeping on the floor. I tossed, and turned, and barely had two hours sleep. Today, for the first time, I am talking about this openly. I really do not condone to public misbehavior by anyone, especially by public figures. So, there was no complain or fuss. I swore that I would never step one foot at that hotel again, and I kept my pledge, to this day. I am not sure if the hotel still exists.

The Cockpit Hotel
Since good sleep was essential to a productive recording, Daisy suggested that I changed to a different hotel. I decided to stay at the Cockpit Hotel, which reminded me of the E&O Hotel in Penang. Something drew me to this place. I had many times spotted it while passing by. It was a nice, cozy, old Colonial building, perched on a slightly elevated ground, surrounded by greens.    

I was so excited when I stepped foot into the hotel. Wow, it was like I went back in time.  The d├ęcor, antique furniture, elderly Chinese staff smartly dressed in their white attires, my room with its high ceiling - all these, took me back in time, to a place that I had seen in olden days movies. My room was slightly far out, secluded, and tucked in a corner, with windows on the side. I could see trees swaying, and heard murmurs of the traffic that sounded like waves, from a distant. This was beyond my expectation – a perfect ambience to set the mood right for the next day’s recording. I could practice my songs, in the privacy of my room. I loved the place, and this was the place that I had always wanted to be!

An unusual disturbance
I had a light dinner and settled in, to do a bit of practicing. I had earlier taped the sound/backing-track of the song ‘Bersama’, and then started belting out the song. I knew that no one could hear me. This went on for awhile, and then I did a bit of reading. I realized that it was almost midnight, and needed to catch up with my sleep.  As I began to settle in, and was just about to doze off, I heard from afar, the sound of a voice faintly humming a melody that sounded like my song ‘Bersama’, that I was practicing earlier.

I was annoyed, and thought that someone was disturbing me. I got out of bed, and peeped through the window, but could not see a soul anywhere.  The lights along the walkway leading to my room were so dimly lit. There was no peep hole at the door. I could barely see any light from the gap, under my door. Suddenly, the excitement of being in the place that I was so taken in, slowly faded. I realized there was no security, or intercom, like in present day hotels.  My anxiety grew, what if I was murdered?  My body could easily be dumped in the bushes near my room, and no one would ever find me!  I then recited prayers, and reassured myself that no harm would happen to me. I reminded myself not to falter in faith. I then checked to make sure that the room door was properly secured, and went back to bed. 

At 3.30am I was awakened by the sound of rain water dripping gently on the window pane. From a distant, I could hear thunder, followed by flashes of lightning, clearly visible from the transparent curtain fabric. I quickly pulled the black-out curtain, and forced myself to go back to sleep.

Ironically, that night, the uncanny weather, and the impending scenario, were like reenactment of the lyrics of the song ‘Bayangan Menjelma’ (below), recorded by me many months earlier. 

Lyrics in English.
One rainy night
I was awakened from sleep
I could hear a voice calling

I wondered who could that be?
The wind and flashing lightning 
continued ‘til dawn
The bright moon disappeared 
into darkness, 
Could this be a premonition?

The following day, I heard news
Then unbelievable sorrow,
You were gone forever
This last fateful rainy night,
The vision of you that reappeared
Will never, ever, be forgotten

A lonely ghost
Back to my story. As I was slowly dozing off, and in between sleep, I thought I was imagining when I heard a female voice humming. I was taken aback. Perhaps, this could be one of the female staff, who heard me practicing earlier. I became anxious when I realized that the humming was sounding closer, and closer, approaching towards my door.

I slowly crept to the door. The voice sounded much clearer, and was just right outside my door. I realized then that this could not be a human voice. The humming sounded surreal. It was humming only the chorus of my melody. I could feel my hair standing, and had goose bumps all over. I detected sadness in the voice, and could feel her misery. I became emotionally disturbed when I realized that she was expressing her loneliness and communicating her sorrow to me. Suddenly, I was no longer afraid. I prayed for this poor lonely soul. Slowly, the humming faded away. 

When I went back to sleep, I had the strangest dream. In that dream, I saw vision of a beautiful woman in her late 30s, fair-skinned, with her hair tied back, wearing a white blouse, and black silk pants.  She looked very sad. It was just a short dream. When I woke up, and to this very day, I can never forget her face.

Recording of ‘Bersama’
The following day, when I recorded the song ‘Bersama’, I could feel the emotions churning from within me. It was as though I was expressing her loneliness, and reliving her memories of someone she had loved, and lost. I believed that this lonely soul came to inspire me, to sing the song the way she wanted it to be serenaded.

When the album was released, ‘Bersama’ became an instant hit, and has remained evergreen. The lyrics of the song can be viewed in my earlier posting. 

This is the chorus 
As time goes by 
My love for you grows deeper 
Memories you  left behind, linger forever                       
You are my only desire, 
and everything I ever wanted
Please come back to me

I did not move out of the hotel, but stayed on for a couple more days. There was no further visit, or dream. I casually asked the staff if they had encountered any strange happening around the hotel. Apparently, there were some isolated incidents, within the hotel vicinity, but no one had ever heard, seen, or dreamt of this beautiful female ghost, or any other female ghosts.  

Whoever, this lonely mystery soul was, she came that night to inspire me, and I am truly happy that she did.  May her soul rest in peace.

Uncanny? Well, isn't life itself a mystery?  



Friday, May 16, 2014

PRANKS, JOKES, AND COMEDIES

PRANKS

It is good to laugh once in a while. In fact, the more we laugh, the better. You may already know that laughing has therapeutic benefits. 

Actually, when we are alone, or when we have problems, how are we expected to laugh? The answer is quite simple, and if we know what's good for us, why not give it a try!

Pictured with me above, while performing a sketch, before a live audience -  Noor Azizah (guest celebrity), A.K. Ayappan, Yahya Sulong, Hamid Gurkha, Lim Goh Poh (comedians). 

There are ways to induce laughs. Laughing helps clear minds of problems, even though for just awhile. Sitting, and worrying do not at all help to elevate our spirits. At times like this, it is best to surround ourselves with people who are good company, who can cheer us up. Best to stay away from those who are insensitive, who seek places to dump their problems instead.  

Sometimes, playing a few harmless tricks can be quite fun, for me especially. I often wonder if I can be just as sporting when someone plays pranks on me.  So far, I have not had the privilege of finding out, cos no one has outwitted me, at home, I mean! 

JOKES 
I believe a little humor in marriage is also good, it does add some color to life. Jokes also ease tensions, and create a relaxed environment for me, and the people I love. Any unpleasant situation can easily be neutralized, with a light joke. 

Each year without fail, particularly in the month of April, this ‘cheeky’ streak in me emerges, and becomes a little wild. Yes, on every April Fool’s day. It amazed me how I could come up with an original trick each year. I have claimed the crown for 35 years, and my ‘April fool’ has been my dear husband. Surprisingly, this year he outwitted me with the same trick I played on him years ago. I allowed him to win, purely to make him happy!

In my song  ‘Dua kali dua”, I described my ‘cheeky’ nature.

Mula2 aku cuma gurau, bila saja kita bertentangan
Tapi sedikit pun ku tak sangka kau telah percaya
In the beginning, I was only teasing, whenever we meet
But I did not expect, that you would believe

Memang aku suka berjenaka, dengan kawan bila ku berjumpa
Tapi dikau mula jatuh cinta dengan gaya ku
Yes, I do enjoy joking, with friends every time we meet
But you have fallen in love with my silly ways

COMEDIES
Watching comedies can be relaxing for the mind. There are some good movies. I like Mr. Bean, because most of his jokes are harmless, and mostly ridiculing himself, seldom others. I believe it is distasteful to make jokes on someone, especially about looks, ethnicity, or color. We cannot choose where we come from. We are fortunate if we are blessed with everything perfect.

Comedy Script
I had the opportunity of exploring my potential in comedy scripting. This, I am grateful to both RTM Producers, I worked with, Helan Abu, and Zainal Abu. They were most spontaneous when I suggested writing my own scripts. The scripts written were purely for laughs, and not directed at anyone. 

Watching the sketches on TV was like watching the trees I planted, bearing fruits. On few occasions, the casts, and crew members were so tickled, rehearsals temporarily discontinued, until everyone settled down.

Several well known celebrities graced the show. The comedians, skillful in delivering comedy scripts, and dramatizing them,  gave life to my scripts. Audience in the studio laughed their heads off, and those at home, were equally entertained.  

Below the sketch audio and the visual. Regretfully, RTM erased all recorded programs, and video recordings were not common then.   


Comedy story line 
A businessman employed a male secretary to prove to his wife that he was a good husband. He was actually a Casanova.  She made a surprise visit, when he was entertaining a girl-friend. His male secretary gave an excuse that he was busy with clients, and tried to alert him. He panicked and forced the girl to hide under his table, just before his wife entered. She smelt her perfume.  He denied, and said it was her perfume or air-freshener. The girl was annoyed.  He told her he was leaving his wife. The girl exposed his lies, and there was a commotion.  He pleaded to both women, that he could not live without them.  He threatened to jump off the building. They both grabbed him.  It was only a ground floor office.  The women then fought. The girl walked out when he chose to stay on with his wife.  

This is the second half of the sketch.



The girl later returned to collect her bag.  His wife caught her in his office. She assumed he was still fooling around,  and had not changed. She left him for good.  Everyone had enough of him, and walked out.  He lost everyone, and was left behind, lonely.

Thank you
I thank everyone for being a part of my life.  

RTM PRODUCERS - who made this possible, with their support, and encouragement.
  
Zainal Abu (produced the first pilot show)
Helan Abu (produced the weekly show)

MOVIE ICONS - who graced the show with their presence.

Saadiah,  Noor Azizah, Abdullah Chik, Connie Looi.

COMEDIANS who have in their lifetime brought joy, and laughter into the lives of many.

A. R. Badul, Ishak Jonid, Wazata Zain, Jamali Shadat, A.K. Jailani, Ayappan,  Yahya Sulong,  Lim Goh Poh, Hamid Gurkha (My apologies to those whose names I missed out).



Sadly, many have now departed. May their souls rest in  peace.  Al Fatihah. 

Acknowledgement
Photo - on top of page - courtesy of RTM.  News articles from Berita Harian, Utusan Malaysia, Utusan Radio & TV).  




Friday, May 9, 2014

JALAN BABA AHMAD - Named after my grandfather

CAPTAIN BABA AHMED JP (Justice of the Peace) 1888 - 1967

One morning, as I watched the sunrise from my balcony, my mind flashed back to the day when I was with my grandfather. It was the first time that I watched the sunrise, and how the sky slowly changed colour from darkness to grey, to golden orange, and then to blue. We were at a holiday bungalow in Tanjung Bungah. It was truly an aesthetic phenomenon for a little girl. Whilst observing, my grandfather would tell me stories, and these are still ingrained in my mind.

Baba Ahmad Road – Off Vale of Tempe, Tanjung Bungah.
I had many fond memories of my early years in Tanjung Bungah. It holds a special place in my heart. To add to this, the Government named a road in Tanjung Bungah (off Vale of Tempe) after my grandfather, in appreciation for his services. He was once known to the people of Penang as the 'grand old man". So, no matter where I go, Tanjung Bungah will always be my favourite place in the world.

Today, few may remember him, and what he did for the community. Most have long gone, including my father (his son) who departed in 2012. It is no surprise if the people living on the road, wonder who Baba Ahmad was. 

Baba Ahmed served the government, and the people in different capacities under the British administration. His concern for the welfare of the people, especially the under-privileged, and years of dedicated service, earned him the name, 'grand old man'. 

This appreciation was well earned. Over the years, he initiated, and assisted in improvements to their health, living conditions, education, and recreation. These were performed honorably, during his tenure as the Medical Officer, Hospital Assistant, Captain of the former Straits Settlements Volunteer Force, President of the Government Pensioners’ Association, Justice of the Peace, nominated Member of the Rural District Council, Secretary of Penang Muslim Orphanage, and as active member of 20 Sports Clubs, and charitable organisations.

Acknowledged for his exemplary service to the Malay community, people of other races benefited equally. No political offer or persuasion, could deviate him from the tasks he set his mind to. He was nominated to serve the people, and this he did, for the people. He did not at all yearn for recognition or reward. 

He was gracious, and modest. The first, and only time he saw the sign on the road, with his name etched, but incorrectly spelt (Ahmad instead of Ahmed), he smiled sheepishly, and said it did not matter. 

Age caught up with him, and a minor accident compelled him to retire. Penang lost an irreplaceable son, who was most respected for his integrity, honesty, and humility. He was to the people, a role model of a caring citizen, a devoted family man, and a dedicated social worker. 

Today, I proudly dedicate this page to Captain Baba Ahmed JP, my grandfather, and share some of my happy moments with him, and the wisdom he left behind.    

Below, an excerpt of the eulogy, published by a local newspaper, Straits Echo on 30 March, 1967

‘GRAND OLD MAN’ of Malay community dies.
One of the few remaining grand old men of the Penang Malay community died yesterday.  He was Captain Baba Ahmed bin Ahmed, aged 78.

Capt. Baba Ahmed, who had been suffering from a prolonged illness, succumbed at about noon yesterday at his Jalan Bunga Cempaka home, Bukit Glugor.

A retired Government’s Hospital Assistant, Capt. Baba Ahmed had been in the forefront of the Penang Malay community, having served and associated with numerous Malay bodies.



He retained his commission as Captain of the former Straits Settlements Volunteer Force of which he served as Commanding Officer of the “C” Malay Company in 1931.

Appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1951, the late Capt. Baba Ahmed, served as Secretary of Penang Muslim Orphanage for 5 years since 1945.  

He was President of the Government Pensioners’ Association from 1957 to 1962.  An active sportsman in his younger days, the late Capt. Baba Ahmed, was a member of more than 20 sports clubs, some of which are now defunct.

LAST SERVICE
His last service to the public was as a nominated member of the Rural District Council from 1952 – 1957.  In appreciation of his public services, the Government has named a new road in Tanjong Bungah (off Vale of Tempe Road) after him.”

MORE ON BABA AHMED
He came from a reasonably well-to-do family, but worked hard, and succeeded, solely by his own merits, and efforts. 


He completed his secondary education at the Penang Anglo-Chinese School. Here was where he became multi-lingual, and learned to write and speak fluently in English, Chinese, in addition to Malay, Hindi, and Tamil.

From 1912 to 1923, he worked as a Medical Officer at the Special Ward for European patients, and local patients, respectively. 

From 1924, he was appointed the Medical Officer/Hospital Assistant, at the Balik Pulau District Hospital, by the government, under the British administration (photo above).  As hospital administrator, he introduced preventive measures to curtail the spreading of several infectious diseases, that were common to the community. He was very popular with the multi-racial villagers. He persuasively changed their mindsets, to accept treatment via Western medicine.

Life in the good old days
He had a nice family house in Balik Pulau, with an orchard filled with fruit trees including durian. These would now be worth millions. The picture below was the government residence, where my father, and his siblings stayed, when they were small.
  

In the good old days, it was considered prestigious to own cars. The car (below) was a dream car for many.  

He loved the sea, and this photo was taken in Port Dickson, during an outing with his children. They were a happy family, and hardship was unheard of.

Second World War
Then, unexpected events happened. The Second World War came, and Malaya was invaded by Japan. The above government residence became barracks for Japanese soldiers. 

During the Japanese occupancy, like most people, life became a living nightmare for him, and his family. He lost everything he owned, and struggled to fend for his family. Food was scarce, and many were undernourished, and even starved. Those he knew were suddenly taken away, and many disappeared without trace, and some were beheaded. He had seen the worst, and, fortunately, he and his family survived this ordeal. 

When the war ended, and the British returned to Malaya, he slowly built himself again, and later operated a dispensary at Buckingham Street, in George Town.  

Man of knowledge
Baba Ahmed enjoyed reading, and maintained a library in his home, throughout his life. I am fortunate to have inherited, many of his books, and diaries. He was a man of knowledge, and was never weary of searching, and expanding his knowledge even in old age. This was his well-known quote -  "seek knowledge even from a beggar on the street". 

He had lived a well balanced life, and believed that both material and spiritual pursuits, were equally important in life. He devoted his time equally to his family, and community, and inspired everyone around him, by his examples. 

Justice of the Peace
As a Justice of the Peace, his house was made accessible to anyone, day and night. People frequented his home to seek his advice, favours, signatures, food, money. These were given spontaneously, without any personal gain or reward.

Honoured posthumously by Penang Museum
In the 80s, he was honoured posthumously by Penang Museum. An exemplary exhibition of his journals, diaries, photos, records of his achievements and contributions to the community, were displayed for public viewing. In this corner of the Museum, these inscribed words, caught my attention:
"Captain Baba Ahmed, JP,  ...respected...dedicated...served the community tirelessly, .." 
The words moved me to tears, but on that day, the tears I shed were tears of joy. I was proud to know that this was how he was viewed, and appreciated, by the people he served. 

MY ROOTS
My grandfather's paternal roots could be traced to a ‘Meah’ family somewhere in a region in North India, neighbouring Afghanistan, before Pakistan came into existence. His grandfather spoke Urdu, and English. He came to Penang as a soldier in the British Army, in 1850s. He settled in Penang, after leaving the army, and married a local woman.

"In 1826, Penang, along with Malacca and Singapore, became part of the Straits Settlements under the British administration in India, later came under direct British rule in 1867 as a Crown Colony". (Wikipedia)


My grandfather was born on 13th December,1888 at Lorong Pak Haji Dollah (now known as Swatow Lane), Penang, opposite the old New World Park. 

Inter-marriages
There were many inter-marriages especially in the early 19th Century. My grandfather was married to Siti Fatimah Sheikh Abd. Razak Al Madan of Middle Eastern origin (my paternal grandmother). She died long before I was born. For many years my grandfather remained a single parent with seven kids, and his mother lived with him. 

He later married Che Puteh binti Din, from Kuala Lumpur, a woman chosen by his mother. (His mother was ill, and knew she was dying.  She kept her illness a secret, as she was afraid of hospitals). Che Puteh was the only grandmother that I knew, and loved. When I was born, she pampered me more than her own children. She was of Indo/Malay lineage, and was also my grandauntie (my mother’s auntie). I know this is confusing, don't bother to figure out.

My mum was of mixed parentage too. Her father was a mixture of Dutch, and her mother, Indo/Malay. I am proud of my heritage, and, my ancestors' contributions to this country.


"Penang's prosperity attracted people from far and wide, making Penang truly a melting pot of diverse cultures. Among the ethnic groups found in Penang were Malays, Acehnese, Arabs, Armenians, British, Burmese, Germans, Jews, Chinese, Gujeratis, Bengalis, Japanese, Punjabis, Sindhis, Tamils, Thais, Malayalees, Rawas, Javanese, Mandailings, Portuguese, Eurasians and others. Though many of them no longer impose a felt presence today, their memory lives on in place names such as Burma Road, Rangoon Road, Siam Road, Armenian Street, Acheen Street, Gottlieb Road, and Katz Street, and the Jewish Cemetery" - (Wikipedia)  

STORIES WITH MORAL VALUES
With this diverse cultural heritage, I grew up in a home, rich in knowledge of the antiquity. Over the years, I learnt to sieve, and extract what was useful to me, and discarded what I considered as sheer folklore, and superstition.

That little girl in the picture was me, when I was 4 years old. I still remember most of the stories told by my grandfather, even those told, when I was this age. What I distinctly could not forget, was how he punctuated every story with these words “when you grow up, remember these stories”. He wanted me to remember the moral values behind the stories he told, so that I would become someone that he would be proud of. Sadly, he passed on, before he could see, that he had inspired me, and that I had done fairly well myself.  (A link to my memoir/profile). 

He, and his son  Hashim, my father, that he raised well, and my beloved mother, were my early source of inspiration.They had inculcated the necessity of living a balanced life  and that material and spiritual pursuits, are equally important.


My grandfather had a way of telling stories that could fill a young mind with awe. This is an example:
“Once there was a squirrel. It would jump from tree to tree. It would deliberately irritate a crocodile lying below, on the ground. The squirrel knew that this hungry, angry, crocodile would never be able to catch. For days, the crocodile waited patiently. One day, the squirrel jumped on the same branch, but this time, the branch broke. The crocodile immediately opened its mouth, and the squirrel dropped right into the crocodile’s mouth”.

Seated near his feet, with my eyes, and mouth wide open, like a sponge, I soaked in every word. As an adult, I realized the moral value behind this story, and his penetrating words are still fresh in my mind:-

No matter how rich and powerful a person is, it is best to be humble. Misfortunes can happen to anyone. An arrogant person gains no sympathy, except contempt.
“Pandai2 tupai melompat, satu hari ke tanah juga” - a Malay proverb.

The messages below, were conveyed to me in the same unique way, in stories. These were actually teaching modules, from a wise old man.
  
“You have two hands, one for giving, another for taking”
“Balance your life between the material, and the spiritual”
“Action speaks louder than words”
"Lead by examples, and not by mere preaching"
“Clean your own backyard, before mocking on your neighbour’s garden”

Lets take a break, and listen to a traditional song ‘Inang Pulau Kampai’ from my last album. Had he been alive, I know my grandfather would have enjoyed listening to a song of his time.



CRAZY TRADITIONS
We were a closely knit family, especially when my grandfather was alive. He believed in family unity, and that meant family activities, including regular trips to the beach. Of course, as kids we loved the sea, and would soak ourselves in sea water for hoursUltra-violet rays, ozone layers, etc. were unheard of. We enjoyed nature to our hearts’ content.

There was one ridiculous thing we had to do, which I hated most. My grandfather insisted that everyone lined the beach, and be completely covered with sand, from head to toe. The only thing exposed was the face. For me, it seemed like eternity. I could not understand why everyone found that intriguing. It reminded me of ‘death’, because I had seen a dead person buried, and covered with sand. I could never forget that. My late grandfather did not explain the benefits of sea water, and sand, which have recently been researched into.

Here is another silly tradition, but this was fun. After a regular brushing with toothpaste, I was made to gently rub charcoal powder all over my teeth. I left it on for awhile, before rinsing. This gave me time for mischief (which I was good for, and still am). I would cover myself with a white cloth, and then exposed my black teeth, and pretended to be a ghost. The elders, including my grandfather, were amused, but not for long. This prank immediately ceased, when I was made to clean the stained sheet myself. I recently noticed a charcoal toothpaste on a pharmacy shelf, and was surprised. It reminded me of my childhood days.

These are but some of the hidden treasures of the ancient. Had my grandfather explained then, I would not have understood, the benefits. As a child I only obeyed. Today, I have researched, and put to good use most of the things I learnt when I was young, and if he was alive, he would have been pleased.  

Sadly, when the time came for him to leave, I was not by his side. This song was my favourite, which I sang in my last TV show - a  song that I associate with 'goodbyes'. This, is my goodbye to my beloved Dada - 'Hasta Manana' - (till we meet again).



HIS LAST YEARS
He endured a prolonged illness, as Parkinson's was a degenerative disease, with no known cure. As days went by, he persevered in dignity, without being a burden to anyone. When his body began to slowly deteriorate, his feeble voice could be heard during the day, and even on nights when he could not sleep, the house was filled with his prayers. He had never missed one single prayer in his lifetime. When his voice could no longer be heard, his lips were seen moving, reciting prayers, till the last moment, when his soul gently left his body. 

THE FUNERAL
This para in the newspaper brought hundreds to his home. 
"The funeral will take place at 176, Jalan Bunga Cempaka, Bukit Glugor, today and the cortege will leave at 5 pm for burial at the Perak Road Muslim cemetery.”

Emotions were high on the funeral day. People from all walks of life and all races - his friends, their families, friends of his children and grandchildren, thronged the street of his home, to catch a last glimpse of him. Those who were not in time, waited at the burial ground to pay their last respects. None in Penang, had seen a funeral of this stature before. 

At the burial ground, as he was laid to rest, my tears mingled with droplets of drizzles that came down from the sky. To me, the drizzles were Blessings. The gentle breeze that accompanied, was a sign that he was bidding his last farewell to me, to those he loved, and, to the people he once served. He had lived a simple life, but on that day, he was sent off as a King. He was their hero - my hero.

FOREVER LOVED AND CHERISHED
Years have gone by, and I often thought of him. He is remembered in my everyday prayers, and is forever loved, and cherished. May his soul be placed among the souls of the righteous, in the Hereafter.


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