On the 24th November 2013, the book PAGES FROM MY PAST, a collection of 47 articles from this blog was published and officially launched by Tan Sri Arshad Ayub. The turnout was unexpected and it became a gathering of old friends some of whom are mentioned in the book.
When I first started sharing the memories of my early days in Muar town in January 2013, I have never ever thought of turning these memories into a book as my initiative is not meant for that.
It all started sometime in early 2012 when I first started writing some very short articles in my facebook page, reminiscing my growing days in Muar town primarily to share these stories to my younger cousins many of whom have not met their grandparents. I had that special privilege of growing up with my grandparents simply because I was brought up by them. My mother Kamariah, passed away at a young age of 26 of breast cancer in 1949 when I was 3 months old and my older brother Farouk was 3 years old leaving my father who was an Assistant District Officer in Kluang shattered to pieces. While my brother was looked after by my paternal grandmother, my maternal grandmother chose to raise me. It was from this moment that I began my life in Muar town until 1967 when I left for Kuala Lumpur staying with my uncle Omar and his family.
My younger cousins liked these stories so much that they kept asking me to keep on writing. By and by, some of my fb friends likewise liked my stories and as some of these stories grew longer, it was no longer suitable to be posted in my facebook page. It was then that this blog was initiated which was strongly encouraged by my cousin Idah (Zuraidah Omar).
During the launch, I was so overwhelmed with the number of guests with few uninvited came on their own. Of course they were all accorded a cordial welcome by our team. I must extend my most affectionate gratitude to Tan Sri Arshad Ayub, an elderly and prominent Muarian who was so very kind to launch the book. Tan Sri is a very close friend of my late father but I have never met him in person, not until on that launching day. He is such an adorable person. He likes the book so much that he bought 100 copies and requested our team to distribute them to some schools at Parit Korma and to some nearby schools along Jalan Temenggong Ahmad to Parit Jawa, Muar.
To Dato Johan Jaaffar, the Chairman of Media Prima Bhd., another prominent Muarian, I can’t find any better words to express my utmost appreciation for his willingness to pen his foreword, the contents are so sweet and encouraging. I like the following part which he wrote:
“Does it matter if Din is just another blogger? Who says ordinary blokes don’t write good blogs? Just read Din’s. He is a good writer, his pieces are short and sweet. Most importantly, interesting. He is eloquent, his narratives flow effortlessly, using the simplest of expressions, yet illuminating and informative. He is not pretentious, writing without the grand illusion of trying to impress anyone. His pieces can be funny at times, yet true to the heart. He blogs to engage and inform not to teach or proselytize. He writes for himself, for his readers, whoever they are.
He writes for fun. And for the love of it.
We, the readers, too find it fun and liking it.”
In another part he wrote:
People of Din’s age would certainly be moved or touched by those stories. I do. And I hope others too will enjoy the book”.
To Dato Johan Jaaffar, thank you so very much.
Another well-known Muarian Dr. Malek Munip wrote in his message which was attached to the book during the launch:
“Thus what ‘Pages From My Past’ has managed to create is a snapshot of history – providing a glimpse of the mental furniture and social cultural landscape of Muar’s semi-urban and rural society during the decade prior to and just after Merdeka. And to me, that fact that it is told not in the detached, dispassionate tone of an academic scribbler but through the personalized flesh and blood voice of her very own son, increases its value – it makes it far more real.
Additionally, though ‘Pages From My Past’ is ultimately the personal story of Kamaruddin Abdullah, nonetheless, in another sense it is also the story of the Muar generation that he belongs to.
So for that we have to thank you Din – in recounting your story, you have in a way, also told ours.”
To Dr, Malek, thank you very much sir. Dr,. Malek however, was my English teacher when I was in Standard Six studying at the Sekolah Ismail School Two in 1962. He was a temporary teacher while waiting for his Senior Cambridge examination results.
AFTER THE LAUNCH
Prior to the launching of my book, the most skeptical person who was not too sure of my book is my older brother Farouk. To the best of his knowledge, he has never heard that I could write, what more to write a book. I can’t blame him because I have never talked to him about my soon to be published book. He heard it from a close family friend and was not too sure whether the book would be well received. After returning home on the launching day, he began reading the book immediately after having his dinner. He could not stop reading it until he realized it was almost three in the morning. The following morning during breakfast, I received an sms from him telling me how much he enjoyed reading the book. He enjoyed it tremendously that he is now promoting the book to all his friends. To me this is a compliment because he is an avid reader and reads a lot of good books.
A friend of mine, Mustaffa Ali bought a book for his uncle who is residing in Singapore. Having read my book, he called my friend and told him how much he enjoyed reading the stories some of which brought tears flowing down his cheek. His uncle is 84 years old and the stories bring him back to his days growing up in Muar town. He told his nephew to extend his salam to me and thanked me for taking this initiative to recount those glory days of Muar.
In the article “Learing the Muqaddam”, I mentioned the name Hapipah, who happened to be my long lost auntie. She was amongst the first few women Police Inspectors of our country. Since the family moved sometime in the early 60s, I have never heard of them. Approximately three weeks after the launch of the book, I received a call one morning from a lady who introduced herself as Hapipah. She got my number from another relative and called me to introduce herself and enquiring about the book. I was quite surprised to receive her call but was obviously happy to hear from a long lost relative and thanked her for calling me. The book has reunite me with my long lost relative.
A week ago while discussing something with my business associates, I received another call with no name appearing on the screen. As I was quite busy at that time, I did not answer the call and placed my handset in my brief case. Later when I took my handset, I noticed the same caller had been calling me three times, so I decided to return the call to find out. Then I heard someone calling me from the other side:
“Salam Din, akulah Mat dari Muar” (Salam Din, its me Mat from Muar). He got my number from another friend who had read the book.
I answered back by asking him, “Mat mana ni, banyak Mat kat Muar tu” (Which Mat are you? There are many Mats in Muar).
Then I heard his loud laughter saying, “Mat Hj. Bakhil lah, abang Man Jolly” (Its me Mat Hj. Bakhil, the older brother of Man Jolly). We both laughed out loud and began recalling back the good old days of the early 60s. He got my number from another friend who had read the book. He was so happy that I mentioned his name in the book. In the article “Nicknames Hilarious to the Ears”, I mentioned his name as one who was so stingy that he gained the nickname of Mat Hj. Bakhil and he had a younger brother who was so spendthrift that we called him Man Jolly. During our telephone conversation, Mat told me that he is still staying in Muar Town and now owns a building to himself situated along Jalan Sisi, right in the heart of town. I guess you need to be a stingy person like Mat to finally own a building. It has been more than forty years since I last met him and now he is so anxious to get hold of the book. But Mat was obviously upset because he could not find the book in Muar Town. I promised to pay him a visit in the very near future and he assured me that I could choose any restaurant of my choice and he would foot the bill just to prove that he is no longer a very stingy person.
Another person I mentioned is Awang Sepekong. When he heard of my book, he was so angry with me for not promoting the book right here in Muar Town where all the actions mentioned in the book took place. Koman betul lah Si Din ni. Buat buku pasal Muar kita semua tak tau, macam mana? He had told this to my childhood friend Halim Bond. He was anyway very proud that I mentioned his name in the article.
On the 25th December, together with my childhood friend Eddie Chua, we drove to Muar town and met up with Halim Bond and Man Jolly. I brought along ten books and had the books placed at Man Jolly’s shop called Genuine Fashion situated along Jalan Sisi. I told him that I could not bring many books as the stock is running out. Mak Hj. Bakhil apparently was not in town and so I told my friend Halim Bond to keep for him one copy. To this Man Jolly said to Halim, Kau ambek lima puloh ringgit dulu, pastu baru beri dia buku tu. (You’d better take from him Fifity Ringgit before releasing the book to him).
While having our tea, an elderly person known to us as Hashim passed by and we invited him to join us. He is now 84 years old and his memory is so good that when he saw me he immediately said to me, Hey Din, anak Dollah Monkey. We all laughed out loud and enjoyed each other’s company recalling the good old days of the 60s. When he was told of my book, he was so touched and congratulated me for my efforts. Like all others, he was likewise disappointed that I did not promote the book right here in Muar Town. Then suddenly we saw a woman coming towards us with my book in her hands saying loudly, Abang Din, tolong sign buku ni. Saya shoh betul baca buku ni, saya baca tiap tiap malam pastu ketawa sorang diri’ (Abang Din, please sign this book. I like reading it so much and have been reading it every night and while reading, I would smile alone to myself). It was Man Jolly’s wife and she had asked her daughter to buy the book in Malacca immediately after hearing about it.
These are some of the reactions I received after the launch of my book and I am so glad that many people enjoyed reading it.
Indeed, I owe to many people who contributed greatly towards its publication. To my auntie Chom (Datin Kalsom Taib), who is the publisher , my cousin Idah (Zuraidah Omar) who did the editing, my cousin Zaid (Zaid Omar) for his design and layout.
To my avid readers namely Lollong G Mali, Harith Ibrahim, Lau Pei Pei, Muarian, and many more…to all of you, thank you so very much.
To the following three persons who are my loyal readers…Sayang Halida Sta De Croix, Rukiah Omar and NK Abdullah who are all staying in London, your books should be airborne pretty soon.
There are more stories to tell and I promise you it would be good stories. Let us not forget the past. Memories are borrowed times to spend together when we get to tomorrow.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.