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Monday, December 25, 2006

Another New Academic Year?

In less than a fortnight’s time the school in Malaysia will be open, again for the 2007 session. In 2007 I will have 4 kids in Primary school where students spent their first six years of education.

Start Up Expenses

So the issues prevailing here are the cash the parents have to fork out at the beginning of an academic year. They the same old things that we needed those days. A complete uniform, shirts or the girls wear “baju kurung (long blouse), pants and Sarong for the girls, socks and shoes. Then what is needed for the studies, the text and exercises books, bags, stationeries and of course the fees.

Lets put up a budget for each primary school child, in RM, (that is Malaysian Ringgit) for the first item.

The Budget

Rich Man’s

Poor Man’s









Shirt/ baju kurung








Pants /Sarong






















School Uniform




School bags







Exercise books






That’s basically the ball part figure. I will put up a comparison on how much I spent for my standard 1 kid, a girl later.

A man has to fork out some RM127.00 say RM130.00 minimum per schooling child. Fees can be safely put at RM100.00 per child in the Primary School. Actually it should not be called fees for education is free in this country. It something that the school charges for their administration purposes, cover things like exam papers and notes.

Shopping places.

So that what is occupying the heads of the locals here. It is raining and for those involved in the rubber industry it is not very good, income wise. The kedai pati (kampong hut style open cafes) philosophers were taliking floods. Floods are hitting other southern states of the Peninsular now. On the whole the weather has been okay considering the monsoon period, rubber tapers can still go work, generally 60% of the month of November was workable, if they are up to it. But in a year it is said that the rubber trees are taped for only a hundred days.

Shopping places.

An easy area to go to and get all the stuff at one location will be any supermarket. We have quite a few of them and many, the major ones are located in Kota Bharu. (the capital of the opposition control state in Malaysia, Kelantan, it is now the only state in Malaysia under the control of the opposition who ironically do no form the main opposition in the Malaysian Parlimen). It will be quite a sight in Kota Bharu with many shoppers from all over the state eyeing for schooling goods and gadgets.

Low Cost Areas


The are reputable low cost outlet like Bazar UDA located between Jalan Sultanah Zainab and the old Market approachable from both sides. In every town in Kelantan, there are stalls selling apparels for schooling within the wet market itself.

Economic Outlets

There are supermarkets and shops offering cheap stuffs probably China made. China is good now there are responsible for producing cheap and good PC peripherals including for HP Hawlett Packard all those jets (printers).

Exam orientated society.

At the end of the six years in Primary School they will seat for an exam, the major one, known as UPSR (Primary School Assessment Exam). Another two will be in the Secondary school where students here spent five years before they finally sat for the SPM, used to be “O” levels too for the English medium students. SPM is still equivalent to UK “O” level standard. Before that in their third year they will have to seat for their PMR, (Assessment Examination for Lower Secondary).

Last year two of my kids, each sat for one of the Secondary school exam. Results will be out soon for the Third year exam, the PMR. The other one the Fifth year exam result will not be out until circa March. Next year.

In Kelantan most schools have made their standard six students facing UPSR in September / October 2007 to start attending classes from the second week of December 2006. My kid has to attend his from the 10 December. “Over schooled” said my minister of home affairs. Kids like me would probably rebel and run way from school. But we don’t deny there is a need for that. There is probably a need for a “community school” as well. How I wish the school computer center is open 24/7 during the school holidays. My kids would enjoy that. They are queuing up for my PC! They would have no qualms to give it a crack.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Therapy in Telipot

".......those days were gone but seems standing near....."
Deep purple

My life then

I was born in a kampong almost halfway between Machang and Temangan. My late father, whom we addressed as Ba, acquired his nickname Matlesen there, when he was dealing with buying and selling rubber - sheets, scrubs and hardened latex. We lived in a shophouse, ours was the middle of the three. Looking from the road, the far right belongs to Sheikh Haji, our land lord, a Pashton by origin and from his local Malay wife, my late Mum whom we called Wan acquired the sciences and arts of making "roti Tokseh". Wan having numerous sisters then transfer the technology (opps.. technique ) to her other sisters. At almost 50 now, if someone were to ask me, what do I missed most from my Wan, I have to say it's her "roti Tokseh". The shophouse was a 11/2 storey, with the shop portion 2 storey and the living/ kitchen section single storey. The staircases was very steep and I did not venture upstairs for my Wan told us that "Pok Top" was living there, I did peep - the place was dusty, gloomy full of webs but not that scary.

I still remembered the visits that relatives made. Citing my maternal side. Ayah Cik and Cik Yam used to visit us. I was very upset when Ayah Cik interrupted my "formula 1 (lets give it that name)" game .I Iike to sit on the foot paddle of the Singer Sewing machine, probably an antique now, I really enjoyed it for as you turned the wheel, the seat (foot paddle) turned with it accordingly like a simulation of a car. I did naughtily mentioned to Ayah Cik, quite recently of the incident, seeking his forgiveness, he laughed at me for remembering the incident. I too remembered Kak Na and Sue Zaq visit. Kak Na was embarrassingly trying to stop Sue Zaq from asking about my home made train - consisting of squarish cans of "teh cap tabik" nailed together with two pieces of narrow planks on each side.

The only bigger town I visited then was Temangan. It was big! With its own Local Council, correctly called "loka kosong" by the locals for it was "kosong" most of the time from my own observations. The Post Office, the first I knew of, was there and Ba used to get services from it, in my presence. So was the railway line and the trains - that's where I know of trains. Of course it has its own wet markets. The only place I remember, I did not go then was the river side. Piped water some more, at the late Wan Aji's & Che Nab's house there was a shower room with piped water shower heads. It was a luxury, compared to our bucket bath from the shared "telaga" with Sheik Haji..

Wan frequently went to Temangan. She did enrol for "Kelas Dewasa", an adult literacy program taught by Cik Gu Esah ( not my mother in-law - just coincidence ) at the local primary school. That’s where I first confront the phonics of Rumi. She also visited Mok Cik Noh, her elder sister regularly. Living around that area, we had many relatives. I recalled clearly that the layout plan was as below. I hope the sketch reached you intact. Once in front of Mok Cik Noh's house, it was rather a scary experience for me, her geese was a nuisance with the threatening "sudu" and those irritating noises, make me cried. No wonder NATO used to experiment with Geese guarding their bases in Europe.

Pak Su Pa, Yu Nah and family were either living in Guchil or just moved to Langgar and rented a semi -d house just beside my in-laws house. In Langgar, Kak Na, Yu Nah,s eldest was very attached to their neighbour, a teacher I think. Yu Nah and her neighour shared the same water pump. I used to visit them, Wan took me there on her own, she was a healthy lady then. The gap between Abe Syams and Minee was very close that Yu Nah had to place Abe Syam with our family for quite sometime. At that time, the hit in town as far as toys were concerned was the tricycle. Ba bought me a tricycle too, I would cycled as fast as I could from one end of the 3 shop houses to another. On the Sheikh Haji side the apron was slightly higher. To add the excitement, I would dived with the tricycle there. On numerous occasions, ( lucky me I did not break my neck ) but the tricycle did and Ba would take it to a welding shop. Abe Syam and I may had some scars from those exercises as a souvenir.

Standard of living & Cost of living

Late Ba frequent Temangan too. He had businesses to be there. One of whom he dealt business with was Tok Kuba, a Chinaman, dressed normally in Khaki shirt and short pants. Always wearing that distinctively China man round top hard hat. The late We Aji was his business partner too. We Aji and Ba shared a "kereta sewa" - Mercedes. Those days most taxis and "kereta sewa" were Mercedes Benz. Their last Mercedes "kereta sewa" bore a plate no. BK4977. Nowadays we hardly find any new Mercedes "kereta sewa". They make way for Datsun and lately Proton . Those days European cars were the thumbs up and Japanese ones were seen as craps. We Aji's car was Morris, So was Andy's (Kak Moh) Grand Pa, Pak Da Hilmi his uncle the Vet Dr. had the "People's Car" (Volkswagen), Ayah Wil ( MaZah ) Ford and Ayah Mat (Mok CikYah) his Singer . Thus taking "kereta sewa" on itself as a yard-stick, one can say that the standard of living in this country is dropping. No "kereta sewa" operator affords a Mercedes anymore. If that did not sound agreeable. This may, the Malaysians had willing allowed a drop in the standard of living, due to the increase in the cost of cars, to support a local automobile industry, the Malaysian car project, Our Bapa Pembangunan’s Favourite.

Wan's house was rented out. In such a small dwelling, it hosts two tenants. If ROI is based on the number of tenants it sounds like a good ROI ( return of investments ). Ba also rented out to an Indian Muslim by the name of Kunyit, a shop house which Kunyit turned into a restaurant. Ba went there to collect rentals. Every time I followed to the restaurant I recalled that we were treated with a roti chanai, the cost of roti chanai then was 10 cents. The coins then were still written with the words cents and on one side with the head of the Queen on the other. A Kati ( a unit no longer in use, equivalent to 650g, I think ) of sugar costs 15 cents.

First Cut is the deepest

Abe Kama had a cut on his left knee from a saw. Thus my Wan took this opportunity to
warn me of the hazards of playing with sharp tools. Abe Kama play ground was in front of his house ( now the late Pak Su Soh's house ). It was obvious that the cut troubled Abe Kama for quite sometime. Interestingly, he recovers fully and probably he is the best footballer among our cousins. He is still at it now, though as a veteran.

I could recalled a merry occasion at We Aji’s bungalow, it was Kak Na's wedding. The table in front of the house, at porch were arrange in rows perpendicular to the house front. The tables were pasted by Pak Kob using white paper with starch. I did remember that the starch did went into his mouth too. That ball, short, dark and slightly plumb guy seems to enjoy it. In front of the house before the tables by the side of the staircases was a man playing an accordion and big lady by my standard then, Jarah Pak Din, sang "Bintang di langit biru" on that night.

The need for therapy

It was 1964, I guessed, exactly when I don't know, I had a bad pain in the stomach. Several bomoh were called but they seemed to make matters worse, by trying to touch the location of the pain, while citing whatever, it only make me worse. It is still in my mind that there were some who says that I had "barah dale perut" ( some tumor inside my belly).

I could swore that a doctor visited me at our house in Pangkal Chuit. I don't know whether he was the same Doctor that attended to me when I received my therapy in Telipot.

Going to Telipot , The house & the occupants.

The next thing I recalled I was in Telipot. Nobody told me ever, how I got there - whether I was so weak or may had passed out, I do not recall . I was placed outside SuHa's room, as shown below, a mattress and what comes with it and a white mosquito net.

life was so slow for me then, I felt I was there for donkey years. My diet was eggs, bread and probably milk. Those days eggs were seen as a miracle food, of course "telo aye kapon", (original eggs from locally bred chickens ).

If I were to consume that amount of eggs these day, unless the expensive omega eggs, people will say I am a freak taking all those cholesterol into my system. But those days a father would literally force their kids to take half boil eggs. See, the science of the diet did change. High possibility that solid food were kept in the kitchen – but of course, the kitchen was declared out of bound for me.

The occupants of the house were Pak Cik Syid, Long, Long's dad & mum - following others I had wrongly address them as Pak Cik Leh and Mak Cik. Pak Cik first child a toddler then, Lyn who called Pak Cik Syid as Abah Syid. Probably because Long addresses Pak Cik as Syid. SuHa was still schooling. And a man, rather slim and tall that was assign to take care of me - Ayob. At that age and level of exposure I did not figure out that SuHa is Kak Moh's and Abe Kama's sister.

The Therapy

My therapist was none other than the well know Dr Aziz. Who later joined politics with the likes of Tengku Rithaudeen and Tengku Razaleigh - young Malay Kelantan Professionals of different background then. Other than the diets imposed on me. He also made daily house calls, there were not many orally taken medication but mostly intravenous ( through injections).

Those days I tell you. The syringe was solid stainless steel - if you hurled that at a chicken, the cockerel may faced with the problem of getting another mate. The syringes and needles were reusable but before that they were boiled (to sterilize) in a solid looking stainless square container, size of a big toaster. I shed my phobia to injections after those daily house calls from Dr Aziz

Ayub the butler & the enforcer

Ayub was the man as if assigned to look after me. He would entertained my keranah - things like wanting to go to the kitchen looking for solid foods. Holding me and persuading me when others went to see the latest technology in town - the idiot box. Television came to Kota Bharu in 1964. He carried me around the rambutan orchards when I was getting better. Funny enough, I did not know where he slept.

Short circuit the exposure

I had never spent any time in Machang before that . Thus was never exposed to electricity, lighted compounds and telephones. To be in Kota Bharu, Telipot - A prime Malay area was quite a kick in itself. Inside SuHa's room, there was a study table, on the table there was a table lamp with its solid round base, flexible stainless steel looking cord to the hood bulb, did catch my eyes, I did managed to twist and turn the flexi cord to my amusement. There was an occasion when a car load party was organised to see the first idiot box (TV) in KB then, due to my state I could not follow the party and was on Ayob's "dukong" - I remember that the surrounding was brighter than my "Tok Sheik environment of our shop house". In the language of Kak Nita , though I could not count, I could swore (if I am not senile and my grey matter is not failing me ) that the telephone number in KB then was only 3 digits from my therapist appointment card.

The follow up

Funny, that Dr Aziz Clinic sounds like a Phamatical outlet. The regular visit to Aziz Dispensary made me very used to down town Kota Bharu. The Dispensary was right beside the bus stand. The "Kereta Sewa" station was a few minutes walking distance away. That was “KB Sentral” then. I know more of Kota Bharu than Machang then. Beside the present A&W and supermarket now stands - used to be nicely maintained stalls, one of then was a barber shop. The town was cleaner than it is today. The streets appear wide with accomodatable amount of traffic. Just imagine such a neat stretches of roads with just the nice amount of traffic - Jalan Sultan Ibrahim right to Wakaf Siku. Jalan Pasir Puteh, Jalan Telipot, Jalan Doktor - Stretching from the round about "Jam Besar" ( I don't think it was there then) to the Hospital - passing right in front of the hospital. It is like downtown KL during Hari Raya Puasa holidays - if you had had the experience of what I meant.

The rows of brick bungalow houses on both side of Jalan Telipot was superb with magnificently manicured turfs and gardens. It was much more lovelier and serenic then, than the too busy Telipot area now. Dr Aziz had a bungalow on each sides of the road - one for each of his two wives. Probably this is the attraction to a lot of young boys, wanting to be doctors. The views of and along Jalan Kuala Krai was beautiful unlike the haphazardly packed buildings of all kinds now. Was that “Lee Rubber smell” at Wakat Che Yeh were there, then? - something I cannot recall.

Was the therapy suffice?

I was told by Ba that I had appendix. What Dr Aziz did was to allow my appendix to "rot" and drop off. Then, I easily bought that explanation. Never asked, what happens when that biodegradable appendix rot inside my tummy, will it not be septic and produced other unsolicited bad things.

Did my appendix really drop off? No, is the answer! Just after mid 80's, the bad economic situations then had me sent Kak Ze and family (my missus) back to Kota Bharu. I was renting a room with bachelor friends at Medan Damansara. One morning just after midnight, I had a bad stomach pain, a housemate, who played rugby for UPM’s alumni team, rushed me to Hospital University Malaya , the doctors gave me some MML and painkillers. He told me to come again if the pain persist. I had to go to the hospital again that night Then the Doctor diagnosed it as appendicitist. I was operated early that morning and had my appendix removed.

I then had a scar, that ranked me a lance Corporal. Now I have 2 scars there - "naik pangkat jadi koperal" (promoted to corporal). If time is on my side I may write another story that will include the story of why I get that other surgical scar.

Later visits to & holidays at Pak Cik House

I remember visiting Long-Pak Cik in Telipot once after that, with Abe Kama. It was Hari Raya then. On Long's insistence, I had to say "thank you" - she wants to hear that, we said it in English! It was a rear thing to have a full-time English speaking house wife, then.

My next visit was when Pak Cik moved to Tanah Merah, he stayed in the government quarters, next to Pak Da Hilmi's ( Thru' Ba I am related like that, my paternal cousins addressed Abg Yi (father Andy) as Pak Teh Yi ). Pak Cik did a lot of hunting then, I guessed hunting then was akin to golfing now. I stayed with Long and Pak Cik for quite sometime in Tanah Merah. I was already in Primary School then, until when the school nearly reopened and that I was given a lift to my kampong (village), Pangkal Meleret by Pak Da Hilmi who was a Vet .

Fond memories

They said memories are, a man's private literature, probably slightly more than that, it is his private library. This short story is more than a personal literature or library but as a thanksgiving to Pak Cik, Long and family, Su Ha and Ayob ( where ever he is) for not only assisting me through the therapy but more so and in many ways had made my life much more colourful.

Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition. [16:90]

A short spell in Temangan

We moved to Temangan after that episod of my Therapy and the "Motosikal We Aji kena Curi" - 1965 when I was in standard one. At that time We Aji, Che Nab and Sue Zaq already moved to Selising. We Aji became the Penggawa of Bukit Jawa. I remember sending We off, we were not in Temangan yet. I returned with a 4WD, land rover driven by Pa Da Romi, a relative 'sabik' of Ba, short cut through the road that pass through Sek Men Bukit Jawa, at that time mostly not tarred yet. By the time I went to Kamil, Pasir Puteh for my Lower Secondary Education, We Aji and his household had moved to another house in front of their first one. I think I am still able to draw the floor plans of both houses.

For my Primary Education, I schooled in Machang, a school named after Tengku Razaleigh's dad, Tengku Hamzah. Initially I went to school on a private car belonging to "Pak Mat dereba", then we took the school bus. The schooling population of Temangan was large then. Kak Ton even had a Japanese Expatriate daughter, in her class, whose father was working in the Temangan Iron mine in operation those days.

Several large bus belonging to the only Kelantan bus company then, NETS (North Eastern Transport Service) ferried the students to school in Machang. It Sounds like the biscuit factory in Langgar just opposite the Sekolah Rendah where my father and mother in-law used to teach, where Abe Syams & I used to play soccer on the school field and we also collected circular tin pieces (when the top of the tin is punched - it produces this circular pieces as a waste) from a local tinsmith beside the biscuit factory and played with it.

At that time Ayah Mat- Mak Cik Yah was teaching in Kuala Lipis and Arwah Ayah Wil was also teaching in Pahang in Raub, Pahanag too, if I am not mistaken.

My school session was in the morning. In the evenings there are times when I would wait for my cousin Abe Kama, in the huge round culverts (kerek telaga) near the godown of KTM. The culvert is no longer there, now. Abe Kama will be coming back from school. He studied in the local S.K. Temangan and was in the afternoon sessions. Once on a sports day, a bigger botak boy from Cekok bullied Abe Kama, he ran to Kak Mah complaining about it. Abe Mae-Mok Cik Noh studied in Hamzah Secondary. My eldest sister Kak Ah and Second Sister Kak Ani was in Hamzah due to the "Special Malay" scheme a government program to have more English Medium Students. I wonder how many and who was the first KWI to be under that scheme! Che Nab ( and Ayah Din - too) and Pak Su Rahim was their contemporary in that Secondary School. That was that best school in Machang, then, Che Pah, We Li , Aziz, Kak Ton and Kama all studied there.

We had regular sports meet - a relay “tawaf” Mok Cik Noh's residence. The prizes were "buoh Ezo" (hazel nuts). The event manager was none other than Abe Mae - Mok Cik Noh. Hardly in the midst of those fun, the young workers of the iron mine disrupted that fun, they found some "magic jenie stuff" and victimised my second sister. That triggered my family's returned to my Ba's kampong. She missed school for sometimes and had to undergo some "traditional Siamese therapy" to get rid of the Voodoo. She completed her studies at MPTI, Johor, stayed in that Kampong, teaching in SMK Machang until her death due to breast cancer , circa 1983 at the age of thirty-something leaving behind a husband plus 5 kids.

".........come tomorrow , like yesterday, fade away, fade awaaay.....
bad company.

As we grow older, we thread much more carefully forward to avoid pitfalls as stated in the ayah below, cautious of things pleasing to us revolving around us and likewise be prudent not to revolved around things that we are not comfortable with, though much seems pleasing to us....

As to those who believe not in the Hereafter, We have made their deeds pleasing in their eyes; and so they wander about in distraction. [27:4]

Ma6 Matlesen
YR AD 2006

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