Muar boys during my growing years were quite cliquish and only flocked among their own sets of friends. It was only after our Form Four of our schooling years that we began to have more friends outside our fraternity. We were identified according to the housing areas where we stayed; thus we had the Jalan Daud Boys, the Jalan Bakri Boys, the Jalan Salleh Boys, the Jalan Suleiman Boys and of course the Tanjung Boys one of whom was me. The Tanjung area was quite a big area stretching from Jalan Joned towards the west coast up to the whole stretch of Jalan Khalidi. Even within our own area of Tanjung, we were fragmented into smaller groups and would only mixed with those we thought would be our suitable friends. In this article I would like to introduce my close friends many among them were the Tanjung Boys.
“Din, its almost time. Let’s go to my house”, Mohd. Shah said to me while we were singing some Beatles songs inside my bedroom. Sometimes he would borrow his brother’s scooter just to fetch me and we would rendezvous around Tanjung before stopping at his house for a short conversation before the approach of dusk. Mohammad Shah is the second son of the late Tun Suleiman Ninam Shah and was among my best friends during our growing years in Muar town. His elder brother Kadar Shah (Dato) was close to my elder brother Farouk as they were of the same age.
Mohd. Shah was a good looking young lad and always smartly dressed but quite mischievous in his own ways. Once I was in bed during a fasting month feeling like as though the world was about to crumble anytime, Mohd. Shah came and asked me whether I was fasting? Having received a weak answer from me, he disappeared for a while until half an hour later he came back with two packets of mi bandung and two bottles of sarsi. “Are you still fasting?” asked Mohd, Shah as he opened the packet right in front of my eyes. I just nodded looking at the other packet like a hungry dog that had not eaten for days. “Well, in that case let me just eat. Help yourself with the other packet in case you change your mind”, sneered Mohd. Shah as he began to enjoy his indulgence. Before he could gulp the first helping, I had already reached the other packet. “What the heck, I might as well join you”, I said to him and we both had such a wonderful treat. That’s how mischievous he was during our growing years.
It was almost late evening and the best time to be sitting at the front portion of his house. We would always do this every time there was a sport rehearsal at the Sekolah Abu Bakar Girls School (SABGS) because when the girls returned from their training, the wandering eyes of the boys nearby would be like the eyes of wolves gazing at the sheep in the open field. These girls would be in their shorts, cycling in every direction towards their homes. By then many boys had taken their respective positions to enjoy a good view. Mohd. Shah’s house was right in front of the SABGS and that was such a good ‘prime’ location to watch the girls passing by. When we arrived at his house, there were already some other boys who obviously had the same idea as we did. Sahak Doktor, Ajis Mak Enggor, Yem Seh Samin, Man Tobing and of course Mohd. Shah’s younger brother Zainal (Known in Muar town of my time as Zenal Datuk). They had already taken the best position to view the passing of these girls when the time came. Of course some of them would be smoking, and we would normally share a stick of cigarette with one another. Cigarettes those days would cost forty cents for a packet of ten sticks and our favourite brand was Players Gold Leaf.
It was 1965 and we were in our early teens and had already begun to emulate our western idols of Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard and now the Beatles. The way we dressed changed drastically from those worn by our parents and it was suddenly a new element creeping into our society. The hair style was first followed the way Elvis and Cliff combed their hair but now many youths preferred the Beatles mop hairstyle because that was the latest trend. Those with curly hair cursed the day they were born. In spite of the Beatles crazed championed by our fraternity, Mohd. Shah never seemed to prefer that mop hair style and stick to his own style of clean right side parting. However, he was quite adaptable to the way the Beatles dressed themselves; very neat compared to the other pop British stars like the Rolling Stone, that was what he thought. So he would wear the boots of the Beatles and would boast to whomever he met about how John Lennon’s boots looked exactly like the ones he was wearing.
Ajis Mak Enggore and Yem Seh Samin were playing their guitars while Sahak Doktor sang “Yesterday” and he would always be seen standing whenever lending his voice. They were killing their time while waiting for the girls to pass by from their sporting rehearsal. When both Mohd. Shah and I approached them, Sahak Doktor had just finished the last line of “Yesterday”. Yem Seh Samin handed me the acoustic girl which we called gitar tong requesting me to play alongside Ajis. I started to strum the song “I saw her standing there” and the rest sang wildly with their out of tune voices. Quite a few were tone deaf but we always enjoyed whenever we sang together. Some danced like the way Paul McCartney did and obviously shaking their heads and shouting yeah yeah yeah. It was just to attract attention to some girls who had begun cycling home. When the hour arrived, we sang even louder with our hands waving at these girls who would just giggled as they cycled passed the area. Of course there could also be heard the whistling tunes of various melody. However, few girls were unfazed at our antics and would just pass by showing off their grim faces cycling straight faced like as though a steam-roller was heading towards their direction.
Another spot where we would gather in the evening to watch the girls passing by was at the tembok of my house and the most familiar faces would be again Sahak Doktor, Salleh Uzir, my close two buddies Halim Bond and Yem, Ajis Mak Enggor, Mene (Zakariah Lamdin) my neighbour and Mohammad Adib. During our growing years, Mohd. Adib was the quietest of the lot and would seldom talk unless when asked. He is a relative of mine whose mother was well known in Muar town as Mak Gayah Robensen. In his later years, Mohd. Adib transformed himself into a great “casanova” with many girlfriends to his list.
Sometime we would sit at the tembok of Halim’s house quite a near distance from mine. Halim was of a different breed and never showed any interest in girls. Like Mohd. Shah, Halim too was not too excited about the latest trend of the mop hair style. He would still prefer the hair style of James Bond his most impeccable idol earning him the title of Halim Bond. Even when he began to learn more about girls, Halim would not take any initiative to attract attention until finally he met a Chinese girl from Johor Bahru and made her his wedded wife. They had one girl named Nurul Huda and she became the only female in his life.
No matter how good these spots were to watch the girls passing by, nothing could match the area around Tanjung. Muar town of my days could not offer much exciting places other than the cinemas and some famous restaurants and so in the evening, Tanjung was the beacon. With tall causarinas standing stoutly by the roadside, these trees would always provide the best shade at every hour of the day. In the evening when the wind began to blow, the branches would dance gracefully to the breezy tune. When the sun began to slowly set at the western horizon, Muar youths would flock to the tip of the cape and enjoy every moment time could spare. Girls would cycle in groups passing by the narrow lane along the shores and the boys would not waste a moment to please their wandering eyes. The famous Tanjung boy of my days was none other than Jaafar Beatle. He earned the nickname simply because of his Beatles hairdo resembling that of Ringo Starr. There would not be a day at Tanjung without Jaafar Beatle strolling along. Because of his craze and trying very much to emulate Ringo, he learned enthusiastically to beat the drums and eventually became a drummer in one of the bands in Muar town. Jaafar had a good friend who would always be seen walking with him and because he was so smartly dressed, we called him “Yem Smart”.
Salleh Uzir was one name Muar boys of my time will never forget. He was the only boy who wore glasses and in those days when young boys wore glasses, we would always think they were very bright and studious. But Salleh made us changed that perception. Born to a well-to-do parents, it was unfortunate for him that they were divorced and he was looked after by his grandparents who were apparently quite a rich couple with few rented properties in town. He was perhaps the only boy in town who would always have himself a girlfriend and he kept changing them. At the same time, Salleh was the richest of the lot who would always have with him no less than fifty dollars whenever we went outing. Fifty dollars of my time would make you a King. Once I asked him how he could get such a big allowance from his grandparents, he answered saying that he stole it from his grandma’s coffer. Salleh was a good dancer and perhaps the reason why he could always get himself a girlfriend. Whenever we went to the Chuan Lee restaurant situated at the front of the Victory Cinema, we would flocked at the jute-box and played the latest of Chubby Checker’s the Limbo Rock. Immediately as the song began, Salleh would exhibit his skill of the Limbo Rock going lower and lower while all of us would form a circle clapping our hands much to his delight. He was a good singer too and would always lend his voice in any function we had and his favourite song would be “Don’t Play that Song” by Keith Locke and the Quest.
Another great character was my close friend Amir, known in Muar town of my growing years as Amir Maksom, Muar’s Chubby Checker. He was another great dancer and would always compete with Salleh Uzir. As his nickname suggested, he was obviously the best when it came to the twist dance. But what intrigued us all was his near resemblance of Chubby Checker, the creator of the Twist and the Limbo Rock.
Sahak Doktor was in fact technically my uncle (He was my mum’s first cousin). His father the late Dr, Hamzah Hj. Taib was the first Malay Doctor in the state of Johor. Sadly his father passed away at a fairly young age when Sahak was about eight or nine years old. It was on one Talent Time show held at the hall of the Muar High School that he wore his father’s overcoat earning him the title of Sahak Doktor. Another good singer within our group, he was frequently in my room singing while strumming my acoustic guitar.
Sahak was madly in love with a Tanjung girl whose name I would not mention. When she got married to someone else, Sahak was deeply depressed and decided to leave town. Indeed he did. With just a few hundred dollars in his pocket, he landed himself on a ship going to India and from there he hitch-hiked and miraculously reached Zurich. He stayed in Switzerland for a long time working for a fairly small cafe and later learned himself how to bake cakes. Upon returning home, he worked with the MAS catering in the early eighties. So if any of you were in a MAS flight during that period, the bread or cakes you were served could be those baked by Sahak Doktor.
Mustaffa Cliff Richard was another close friend of mine. One would wonder how did he earn the nickname knowing that he could not sing and not a single feature of his face resembled that of Cliff Richard. It was apparently he idolized Cliff so much and even had a small picture of Cliff Richard stick to his bicycle license’ frame that we decided to call him by that name.
It would be a long list if I were to include every single friend of mine who resided within the Tanjung vicinity. Every one of them had their own ways of growing up and some made it greatly in their later lives. Those wonderful days are gone but what stay with me are those many memories of living among the many Tanjung Boys of my growing days. Some of them have left this world while few others are still living only to remind themselves of how wonderful life was in the sixties.