Monday, 28 August 2006

Memories of Merdeka

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As I was washing the flask to make tea for the journey to Brickendonbury for the Malaysian Carnival last Saturday, my mind took a nostalgic trip down memory lane. There I was, standing by the sink in my crisp, newly ironed uniform, washing my bluish green tupperware tumbler to fill it up with iced tea and then carefully wrapping it with a small Good Morning towel and finally securing it with a rubber band. This I placed safely with egg sandwiches Mak had prepared for the long hot day we school children had to endure lining up the streets for the Merdeka day celebration. Sometimes, it was merely to catch a glimpse and wave our flag to the motorcade taking the Sultan and the Sultanah to their own celebrations, or sometimes to stand in the parade grounds, to listen to speeches after speeches. Mak's sandwiches would have been long gone by the second speech.


The reason we endured the long hours of standing by the roadside was because at the end of that long day, we were rewarded with free tickets to the cinema. That made it worthwhile. Even if some fainted along the way.

My earliest memories of Merdeka was of Kak Cik rehearsing enthusiastically and with such feelings, her speeches for the 'Pertandingan Syarahan'. It was 'the bulan bahasa kebangsaan' which started with inter school competitions and culminated at national level. Kak Cik made it to state level and had a table full of trophies to show for her success. I enjoyed watching her on stage. Thinking back, how well, how confident and how proud we were then speaking our own national language. And how easily too we slipped into English.

Anyway, another event that marked the celebrations for Merdeka Day was the arrival of the Filem Negara vans in the small town of Yan. We knew that this meant free movies on big white screens out in the padang. Of course, like the free cinema tickets, we had to endure an hour of government propaganda clips, which we would while away chatting to friends or eating kacang putih. But yes, I remember these very well. Mak would make her excuses to Pak and we’d have a family picnic on the lawn, in the moonlight.

Later, Merdeka Day celebrations also meant lots and lots of practice of the Scottish or Irish Dance. Scottish or Irish Dance at a National Day celebration? Yes, I am afraid so. While other schools like the SAS showed off their lenggang lengguk mak inang, we from St Nicholas Convent (hooray!) jigged and hopped and weaved in and out in our kilts and funny berets. We stood out of course but we made it a Merdeka Day with a difference.

Then, of course, when I got myself into the school band, we marched from our school, the Sultan Abdul Hamid College (another hooray!) all the way to the stadium, all the while playing the angklung or the drums. Those were the days, eh?

After that as an adult, I don’t remember much, except that during one celebration, in the throes of early courtship and romance, we walked hand in hand to watch the performance at the Lake Gardens. Everything became a blur then. Not that I ceased to be patriotic but other matters took over.

Matters that took me to London. Ironically, it is here, eight thousand miles away that this feeling of patriotism made its way back into my heart, where even a glimpse of the National Flag or the soulful tune of Negaraku would bring tears to my eyes.

The Malaysian community in the UK has always celebrated the National day in Brickendonbury at the vast and green fields of Tun Abdul Razak Rubber Research Centre. This is a great place to meet other Malaysians other than in Oxford Street. There’s usually lots of fun and games and food galore. Malaysians and friends from all corners of the UK would come in coaches and cars and vans to join in this fun ala Family Day.

One year, I decided to test my culinary and business skills and with some friends we set up a food stall.
I made mee bandung, sardine rolls and currypuffs while my friends made capati and keema mutton. What a fun day we had , with people queueing up to get more and more and by the end of the day, it was declared the best mee bandung this side of the English Channel.( Well, that would be easy, wouldn’t it?)

The year after, I decided to do a repeat performance, but while I was stirring the gravy, I realised my heart was not there. I was looking longingly at my friends playing netball and those in the musical chair. It was then that I realised that business is not my thing. I left the gravy to boil and joined in the fun in the musical chair, winning second place. There!

For quite a number of years I was the MC for the day, but this year I decided that I wanted to have fun instead. Once I was even asked to coach a group of children to sing patriotic songs, and oh! how it touched my heart to hear them sing Setia...

Last year the bombings and fear of bombings saw to it that the carnival was cancelled. But when we got news that it is back on this year, I decided to go. As Ewok had already booked a place to sell her ice cream, I booked a place in her ice cream van and together with my son and another friend, we left early Saturday morning for Hertfordshire. The weather in the morning wasn’t very promising. It started raining and we were worried that the ice cream would not sell. But how wrong we were. The queue to the ice cream van started at 9 and ended when all the other stalls had packed up to go. Picture this, ewok assisted by two Mak Cik bertudung selling Yorkshire Da*le Ice Cream.

I met a few bloggerfriends such as Newkidontheblog, marlinda, atok, kak ngah and Ibu71. And guess who else I met? AlexYoong! It was eight years ago that I was Alex’s companion to a Merdeka Celebration at Four Seasons Hotel in London. And that drew a lot of attention from other Mak Datins present.

But one Merdeka Day will remain clearly in my mind. That was the year Princess Diana met her tragic death. I remember it so clearly because I heard the news as I was on my way to cover one of the celebrations with my cameraman. Instead I ended up doing a coverage of the crowd in front of Buckingham Palace.

Well, Selamat menyambut Hari Merdeka everyone, wherever you are!

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37 comments:

LifeBloom said...

Sebelum apa2x.....Yeay! I am first!!!

KT your entry brought back myriad merdeka memories...yang paling horrer is when we had to do march pass and I didnt fit into the tee shirt (compliments of Jabatan Pendidikan) - so I had to buy a men's tee shirt yang sama colour...Trauma jugak....

My merdeka wish is to see Malaysia continue to live in muhibbah harmony and that we never lose sight of what really matters. Hard work, Tolerance, Humility and Integrity.

MA said...

Sekarang kat KL tak ada *feel* bulan Merdeka pun. I hardly see miniature flags on cars like during one year where they gave out flags letak kat kereta...

may said...

I remember celebrating Merdeka in Sydney years ago in something we called Malaysia Fest, where Malaysian students from universities in the city would come together, put on performances, cook local food to sell, and most of all have fun!

Happy Merdeka to you, kak teh!

Kak Teh said...

Lifebloom, my sentiments exactly! I think your early days of mylife must have been blissful as i didnt feel any racial divide, no bickering and no dirty politics. But maybe again, i was too young too know. I wish life is simpler. malaysia is well erspected - and I know this, i hear this all the time.
MA, kesian and sedih, eh? I supposed we feel; it more. we have another celebration in September.
May, happy merdeka to you too. Like me, i think you enjoyed it more when you were there, right?

newkidontheblog said...

Kak teh, your post brought back lots of nice feelings. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to turn back the clock? We had loads of fun celebrating Merdeka day but I don't know if it is still as exciting as it was during our days.
Wow, you sure took some very nice pictures. I bought char kueh teow from the guy in the photo....very sedap, should have bought more.
Happy Merdeka day!

5xmom ~chanlilian.net~ said...

Kak Teh, tks for the trip down memory lane. My primary school used to be near the Bayan Lepas airport and I remembered we spent a LOT of time lining along the road, by the sawah padi, with a flag waiting for some dignitaries. At that age, we didn't know who we were waving to but wave we did. And those free cinema tickets, with lice (kutu kan?) in the seats that left us with huge, red bumps on the thighs after a show.

You know what Kak Teh? I think I am going to tag you for the Puisi Bulan Merdeka! Tag...you are it!

Blabs said...

I love my Malaysia with all my heart, and will do whatever I can on my part to see that 'bangsa Malaysia' becomes a reality. It was a reality once before, even as recent as the 1980's, and then somehow, the racial integration slowly began to disintegrate. Look at us now. We need to remind all Malaysians how things were, the causes fought, the challenges faced, together. Selamat Merdeka to you, and all my fellow Malaysians.

Kak Teh said...

Judy, do come down to London and I will take you to some interesting eateries!
Lilian...Uwaaaaaah, u tagged me??? well it will have to be on Merdeka Day then!
Blabs, it breaks my heart reading about what's happening in the country. So much division, so much suspicion and animosity. So, so sad!

mumsgather said...

Kak Teh,
You took me down memory lane too. I remember dancing on a field carrying a huge bloom of paper flowers waving it this way and that. I hated those rehearsals in the hot sun then but its really nice to look back now. Sniff sniff. Those were the days.

AuntyN said...

Kak Teh : Selamat Hari Merdeka to you too.

drbubbles said...

kakteh,

ooo gambaq dalam blog atok tu masa kakteh tgh jual aiskrim ka? just imagine how funny looking makcik bloggers jerit, " AISKRIM! AISKRIM!" hahaha!

Kak Teh said...

Mumsgather, looking back, there were lots of fun too during the practice. Imagine having a glimpse of boys from the boys school, straying to the stalls and snack bars after practice! Usually its straigth back after school!

AuntyN, same to u too.

Dr Bubbles...hehehe, u ingat apa lagi??? Bagi kak teh jual aicekrim macam masukkan semut dalam gula!

Queen Of The House said...

Oh yes, I remember looking for kayu/buluh for the little flags we had to wave while lining the streets. Hahaha, panggung REX was very near our house - berduyun-duyun budak2 sekolah pass by the house lepas tengok wayang free tu ....

Happy Merdeka day!!

simah said...

hari merdeka orang malaysia sama dengan sambutan salah satu hari kemerdekaan kat turki..tak sure pulak merdeka apa...but people hang the turkish flags outside their windows on the 31st august... i only wish i can hang our flag together with the turkish flag too... tapi tak berani..takut orang nanti salah sangka yg tu flag orang amerika..lepas tu depa bomb pulak my flat hehehehe..kita punya flag kan hampir sama?

and i am sooo glad that i am a Malaysian!! :0) let us all not lose our identity no matter where we r kan?

kak teh ..best la lagu ni..lama dah tak dengaq..

shiha said...

KT.. skolah Convent? harharhar I was in SAS from Form 1 till Form 3 (then went to MRSM). Loads of cherished memories I must say. Happy Merdeka Day to you too!

Count Byron said...

Lovely Merdeka reminiscences... lovely write. Thanks for sharing KT. I must read more...

anggerik merah said...

Selamat menyambut merdeka Kak Teh. Lovely memories you wrote!

Ewok said...

KT, thanks for helping me and Liz that day. You're not bad for a trainee kan? :)

btw, my blog address tu salah. tah blog sapa2 tah u letak tu ;) mine is http://wookiebear.blogspot.com

Jane Sunshine said...

Aiyoh! Missed, missed, missed. M and I were so near, yet so far....M suddenly very feverish and I had this mother of all migraines. I threw up in friends place at St Albans...okay..wont bore you with details.....LOVED the whole post btw.

Selamat Hari Merdeka.

bisutulibuta said...

Sempena hari yang penuh bermakna ini, saya bagi pihak rakyat Bloggers ingin mengucapkan Selamat menyambut hari kemeredekaan kepada Puan Cafe Latteh. Semuga Puan Cafe Latteh selamat melahirkan anak anak yang lebih merdeka lagi di masa hadapan. Semuga juga cucu cucu Puan Cafe Latteh yang bakal diterima nanti menjadi cucu cucu merdeka. Semuga Hari merdeka ini membawa warna warna ceria pada waktu subuh hening ketika Puan sibuk berkelam kabut untuk menyipakan kerja kerja yang terbengkalai. Terima kasih saya ucapkan kepada Perdana Menteri, Menteri Kerja Raya, Setiausah Parlimen, Ketua Pengarah Jabatan Kastam, Pegawai Khas Perdana Menteri, dan juga dif dif yang lain. Saya juga mengambil ke....

"OI GET ORF THE BLOODY STAGE...!!! U STUPID ASS !!!""" kacinggggss..klang..!!! ##&& klang klang..!!!

*ADOIII!!!! *

*oppss sorry kakteh, terperasan tengah buat speech depan rakyat jelata...heheh* hoii apa baling baling periuk ni ?? sakit ahhh !!!

pu1pu3 said...

bestnya KT. YOu had a loverly time in the ice cream van. bestnya!!yum, yum.
tumpang lalu,....
Ewok, belanja la ice cream tu utk buka puasa nanti masa I dtg in sept ya?
KT, buka puasa kat rumah u eh?hhahahha..muka tak malu...
Anyway, SELAMAT HARI MERDEKA...I know the feeling too when you mention rasa sayu dgr lagu negaraKU di perantauan...

Kak Teh said...

QOTH - Yes, beratur kat Panggung Rex or Panggung Cathay!!! Happy Merdeka day to u too!
Simah - oh baik jangan hang malaysian flag - memang akan tersilap faham orang yang tak tau!
Hang dalam rumah cukuplah. Hope you are okay what with the bombings and all.

shiha!! Thanks for visiting - amboi, kak teh pun ramai kawan dari SAS! Kak teh in primary one in SAS then pindah ke Yan, balik dari Yan ke SNC and Then SAHC.

Kak Teh said...

count baron, welcome back ...long time no see!

AM, lagi lama lagi banyak kenangan manis.

ewok, salah ka???aiyahhhhh! will remedy thatsoon. Thanks for giving me chance to realise my childhood dreams nak jual icecream.

Kak Teh said...

jane, u missed , missed missed loads of fun and games and you weremissed too. Esp when there were these bollywood dancers - i was hoping u'd be there. Food? Oh my God! Loads! Hope M is much better.

BTB - who is yr speech writer? Sack him/her!
pu1pu3 - hey datang sini dulu lah!!! Looking forward to see you!

TrioMommy @ Yours Truly said...

as salaamu`alaikum KT,

i must say i have never live abroad before so i can't very much appreciate this tiny isle i call home. i hope to some day insyaa allaah to spread my wings and fly. maybe then i'd feel some kind of patriiotism or the lack thereof. *hee*

Kak Teh said...

trimommy, I think being away does a lot to put things in perspective. I am seeing a lot of things differently, i am seeing , looking in from outside, I become more possessive of our values and culture and most of all, I find thati am going back to my roots.

d'arkampo said...

...we walked hand in hand to watch the performance at the Lake Gardens. Everything became a BLUR then.

We know! we know!

no need to highlight that la kak teh.

Happy Merdeka to you!

Kak Teh said...

ish PO, sampaikan sekarang dok Blur!!!

maR said...

mcm mana saya bulih terlambat letak comment? Mcm mana saya tak perasan kak teh dah update? Hishhh... lawanyaa gambaq itu kak teh :D
Selamat hari kebangsaan...

Lydia Teh said...

Happy Merdeka Day, Kak Teh. Wah you're always bumping into celebrity :)

MerapuMan said...

Hello Kak Teh. My first visit.

Your post ni betul2 mengingatkan zaman kekanak dulu. Ikut aje apa orang kata. Pegang bendera pendek tu, kibarkan and nanti dapat tengok wayang. Itulah 'erti kemerdekaan' to me when i was in primary.

maklang said...

Kak Teh...Miss last entry. Moga2 kakak dicucuri rahmatNya , InsyaAllah...


Merdeka...hari ni merdeka from kerja! Moga2 kita semua akan merdeka dari segala2 yang tidak baik buat diri kita dan umat Islam seluruhnya...

Kak Teh said...

mar, taklambat aihhh. Tolong hantark some of the pix yang ada kak teh dok juai aiskrim tu!
Lydia, am i stalking them or are they stalking me?
merapuman, datang2 lah selalu.
malang, kak teh hari merdeka tak merdeka sebab kena pi kerja.

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh, this is my first time visiting your blog. It is superb. Keep them going.

ES

Kak Teh said...

ES, terim akasih - yes, do jenguk-jenguk when u can.

anasalwa said...

Pardon me Ma'am,
Who is this Alex Yoong? I googled and learned he is a Malaysian racing car driver. Was his father in a cabinet once or still is?

Kak Teh said...

Anasalwa, Alex was in F1 anfd now he is in A1 racing. His father Hanifa Yoong was his manager and I although I can clain to know him quite well, I dont think he was in the cabinet.