Wednesday, June 3, 2009

those days in Penerok and Pontian, may Huzaifah revisit.

You may wonder where Penerok is. It's a small town, very small town, in Pontian. It's never on the map of Johore. That's how small it is. My parents came from Java, Indonesia and they started life as immigrants in Penerok, some hundred odd years ago. My father felled the jungle and started a small rubber holding. Later they moved to Pontian Kechil, a small fishing village. But my parents kept their "career" as rubber tappers, though my father was more a farmer planting cash crops like ubi, keladi, keledek etc,etc.

I remember my childhood days starting maybe at age five. All I remember is about eat, play and helped my mother tapping rubber in penerok and at the kebun in Pontian. We also had a small rubber holding in pontian and during my primary school days I was more helping my mother and eldest sister tapping rubber in Pontian.

Helping parents in those days was never a big deal. It was all part of growing up. And in fact it is the fun of growing up that I treasured most and my memories of my father and mother was the fun I had helping them together with my nephews of the same age. I helped my father catching eels at the parit and trapping burung ayam-ayam for our daily meals. I also remembered catching belalang kunyit for 'deserts'. That was really some experience that I would like Huzaifah to know. Its not choclate chips and ice creams and ayam 'goleng'. We had chicken or beef only once a year during Hari Raya. My parents reared chickenn but it was all for sale so we could by other house hold necessacities.

Rubber smallholdings in those days was never like the ones they have now. Then it was almost like a secondary jungle environment and let me tell you that the danger of tigers was always there though I had no chance of seeing one. The rubber plot was at the edge of the jungle and snakes and babi hutan and kera was a common thing. But by the grace of Allah I was never made to be afraid of them to the extent that I feared to venture. My mother said 'Kalau tak kerja siapa nak tolong". It's like saying today "nothing venture, nothin gain" "no pain, no gain". Who said our parents are not University 'materials'. My mother always said when I was in college that if she had the chance, she too can be the prime minister. That was no small talk. She was serious. My father passed away when I was 16, and my mother passed away in 2003, and I was 56.She was about 95 years old.

My father was always strong no matter how difficult life was. One thing that he said whichI held on strong was " kita miskin, tapi jangan mintak-mintak" However poor and difficult, do not beg. Work hard and we will be okay. My father taught religious knowledge to the kampong friends, All in the Javanese language and I still have some of the Kitabs even now. I hope it is still there in my safe-keeping.My older sisters often told me how strong our father was. He could walk for miles with 'goods' like the whole banana on his head and brought home 'goodies' for us.

I was a happy child and had a happy childhood. My parents asked us to work hard. We had to fetch clean water from the government taps and walked maybe half a mile in the 50's and collected firewoods every day, after school. As I was the youngest in the family my mother stopped the hard work when I was in Form 1 at secondary school because 2 of my sisters became teachers and they helped out with the family finances.

We developed strong personalities as aresult of our "life style". Hard work was never a difficult thing. Its all part of life because we set goals in our life. My father told me stories about the life of 'contract labour' and I guessed that he came over to Malaysia as one. But I often "joked" that he came by tongkang and swamed half way the Staraits of Malacca. But since he was not a good swimmer he landed in Johore. His 'friends' , the stronger ones , landed in Selangor and ' few' in Perak.He... heee.

Alhamdulilah, all is well that ends well. May Allah have mercy on my parents and place their souls with the Shuhada' and the Solihin, Amin.

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