Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ramadan in Kota Bharu,1960....


1960. Ramadan in Kota Bharu as I remember it.
The old pair of Second World War howitzers at Padang Bank opposite the Old Istana come to mind for us 7-year-old kids growing up in 'laid back' Kota Bharu. Really not that 'laid back' because 'we' had that tallest building in the world: The famous Zain Building [ 4 storey], near the biggest and busiest roundabout ever infront of 'Palm Manor', [Tengku Razaleigh father's house].

My late father[ he died of perforated ulcer 2 years later, no effective antibiotics then except penicillin ] used to take myself and my younger brother, Mansoor, to Padang Bank just to watch members of the Askar Melayu go through the intricate motion of firing the guns to herald the beginning of 'berbuka puasa'. The rest of the Wan Abdullah clan were already too grown up to enjoy such simple pleasures in life , I supposed. We would then drive to our kampong Teliput home for breaking fast.
Home refrigerators then were a rarity, though we had ours. Bigger boys, my 'playing-marble' and 'police and thieves' friends,10 to 13 year-old, would try earning some extra pocket money,line up along Jalan Teliput and Jalan Kampong Puteh, selling big blocks of ice, at 10 to 20 cent 'a piece', for the mandatory 'ice syrup ' without which any 'berbuka puasa' will not be complete. One or two of them are now in KL, self made millionaires. Not the NEP type though because "we are,damnit,KELANTANESE!!". Not qualified for NEP help.[ even years of potential oil revenue and more importantly uch needed development around Tok Bali has been robbed from us! We will always remember you Dr M , for being so 'small minded', even when you are no longer here!]

The 'guns' would reverbrate again at sahur time to indicate 'imsak' and more often than not we young fellas would be wokened up by the guns., not by our parents who deemed us more of a nuisance,still too young to start serious fasting .Some 'ulamaks' amongst us 'young punks' maintained that one could still drink one or two glasses of water, and if 'quick' enough, can even finish one plate of rice, after the 'gun' and still ''halal' to fast . Up till today, at 57, I still follow that particular 'advisory.[ Thank you TS Ani Arope for sending me that email today confirming that infact 'this is superior practice' as compared to Sahur ,say at 3, and even though not missing the suboh prayer! Or for some ,no sahor and no suboh, but ironically ,fasting!]

1960. Ramadan in Kota Bharu then. Life was very simple and carefree. We can 'jalan' everywhere without being worried for our safety.Daytime spent in looking for kingfishers and mynahs to practice our 'lastik' technique and accuracy, Magrib and isyak time socialising cum 'terawek' and playing 'hide and seek' and 'Malay or Chinese hopscotch' with the girls,at the kampong surau. Post 'teraweh', we young boys occasionally were allowed by our parents to join the 'bigger boys' horning their skills at seeing whose 'bedil buloh' give the loudest 'bang': bamboo contraption with a small hole bored into one of its compartment, adding a bit of carbide to water ,would result in a big bang comparable to the howitzers at Padang Bank.Need to foray deeper into the kampong to see real action, since even then 'bedil buloh' was already illegal. Fantastic bang it gave, using carbide and water and the trick is to doubly stengthened the 'bedil' with steel wires carefully wrapped around the bamboo.

That was Ramadan as I could remember in 1960. Those were also the short time I had and could recollect about my late father, Wan Abdullah. By 1962, I had to grow up 'pretty quickly'.......
"Rabbir-firli-waliwalidayya' wal mukmini wal mukminat"
My Lord, grant forgiveness and blessing to both my parents and all Muslims!

May your Ramadan and mine be a blessed one, insyaallah.

Dr Nik Howk

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