Sunday, May 21, 2017

Interesting Mad Men of Kota Bharu in the 60's and all that jazz.....

my good friend , dato yeh, of titwangsa, whats app me this morning a most beautiful, short  wirid/doa involving some aspect of allah's beautiful names. i was reminded by allah's beautiful name, 'ya latif', and somehow my mind wanders off to kota bharu in the early sixties.

i must be just about six, seven or eight year old then.

for people of that age to be living in kota bharu around that time was extra special. kota bharu was a microcosm of the whole wide world. and why not , nothing else exists beyond kota bharu.

kuala terengganu of old was at least a day away, with a total of 5 to 6 long , and tedious tedious ferry crossings.
and another five before reaching kuantan, kuala lumpur suddenly become very very far away.
crossing the hazardous titiwangsa range via janda baik was no mean feat for the average driver, with narrow one way lane at places and  steep drop to no where.
kuala lumpur was a one and a half day journey  unless you are titled  and loaded and can fly the malayan airways on rickety old dakota prewar planes!

so one has to pardon a seven year old who grew up on the assumptions that, ' sultan ismail college [ lovingly called s.i.c ] is the best school in the whole wide world!'; ' the world famous zain building', a four storey mammoth building right smack in town, is the tallest building in the world', taller than empire state building; biaritz park sited on tengku li's father's huge land bank, is the best fun park in the world........etc and etc.

" awae!.....margi lah awae.....samah jah! " [ children , come lah, only fifty cent! ]
those middle aged  dance ladies in biaritz park, sitting by the veranda of  their makeshift small houses, grooming themselves, some looking for 'gutu' [ head lice ] for their friends, used to tease us small children wandering in the fun ground in late morning while waiting to go to our afternoon session school at s.i.c.

we all ran, helter skelter.
that was a long story deserving another write up!
'samah' or 50 sen , at that time in the early sixties is probably 5 rm now. big money for a morning of pleasure.

panggong rani showing cheap matinee john wyne and  the delectable marlyn monroe and sandra dee, was nearby.
cattle class, with pijat, coakroaches all thrown in, at 40 cent per viewing.

everything kota bharu was 'huge' to the seven year old.
we had two traffic lights then. one near the bata shop right in the middle of the town near the present tan sri mydin's father's sundry shop....somewhere near panggong odean.
we pride ourselves with these two traffic light because our elders told us terengganu have none!
'how can these poor teganung people live without a traffic light !!??', people of my age wondered, then.

my family, we lived at jalan teliput. this is equivalent to ttdi  now. senoir government officials of low grade like chief clerks, senior postal workers etc etc doted the road. jalan ferguson just a street away was kota bharu's damansara height. state engineer, magistrate,goverment doctors and ado's lived there.

some 400 metres from my house is sic with its famous rugby and football team. it's rugby team, i recall, was always champion of the world. however, in football, sic almost always lost to islah.
islah, to us young boys, belong to the domain of the infamy. only 'big boys who failed their standard six and form three exams go to islah!.... they cannot be good...only rascals go to islah!'.
that was drummed onto us by our parents on a daily basis.

they don't even have a rugby team! 
'what! no rugby team!..'

across my house there used to be a big agricultural research station. i did not have any notion what research they do at that time because that concept was beyond us. to us seven year olds, that huge place with big padi fields and huge chickens and oversized goats and sheep.....a fantastic playground for us. 
it was heaven on earth.

all year long, after mid morning 'mengaji qur'an' with tok ayoh long and mak long down the lane we had a gala time swimming in the parit and 'air gumber' located at the north end of the station. during fruiting season, we boys and girls had free rambutan.
i spent many happy evenings, with my elder brother hashim, prowling the ground picking brazilian seeds. very tasty, eaten raw.

needless to say the bigger kampong boys also frequent the place because pak ali, the caretaker had two good looking seven, my interest was still elsewhere.

in the center of the large station, there used to be a sombre looking building , very official looking with dark glass windows. 'wow! what goes on inside', i wondered to myself.
my elder brother hashim , by then must be around 10, and much wiser than us, opined that , 
' this is the government! '

" wow!.....this gomen must be the invisible god inside printing money to pay for wae's [ my dad ]salary and everybody's salary in kota bharu!! no wonder they have dark glasses!!...all day long printing money for the rest of people in kota bharu to live on...WOW ! ".

we children did no even dare to peep inside. 
gomen or god busy at work!....we did not want trouble.
we already have enough trouble been chased around by pak ali!

when we got tired of swimming at the air gumber' of the station, during heavy rain we swam in the parit near istana teliput, an former old british adviser's residence, currently the unofficial residence for sultan muhammad the 5th whenever he is back in kb, which is fairly rare nowadays. oftentimes we play, 'police and thieves' near the compound.

i used to catch big 'anak sepila' in the big well kept drains around the istana, during monsoon season. i remember a famous old teacher of my eldest brother , cik gu embi, an 'orang luar', lived neighbouring the southern border of the istana. cik gu embi was quite famous that they named a lane by the side of the istana  then, after him : lorong cik gu embi. 

[   cikgu embi, like the marican brothers were 'orang  luar', people from outside kelantan , who form the inner  fabric of 'high' society in kota bharu. they are the elites.
cik gu embi, dr ezanee marican, mr siddique marican, mr bapoo hashim, mr yusuf , the late father of the delectable amenu lady of the 80's, marina yusuf, just to name a few. mr fernandez, mr and mrs john and mary cardosa, mr mukherji, mr durbara singh etc and etc.

oouch! there was one more , dr aziz, whose daughter rashidah, i fell in love with secretly at age 9....i wonder where she is  now.  people may not know it but children these age fell in love many times over .  i still recall in standard two in tanah merah, all the boys of the class fell in love with miss hasnah abu bakar, our form teacher! she got long flowing hairs and slender hands....during 'paying school fees' time , which is 2.50 rm per month, all the boys will crowd around miss hasnah, the girls of the class will be relegated to the back rows...some boys will be close enough to be able to touch cik gu's hands!, all fighting to be in the 1st row!.. a digression. ]

this vicinity around the istana  was also a good place to catch or 'lastic' [ biddah ] a bird or two , since the surrounding of the istana, especially the back part, that time was fairly thickly wooded.

i recall there were two famous characters in downtown kota bharu.
tok awae and tok wali sa'ad. 
tok awae must be in his late 40's or 50's and tok wali probably 60's.

tok awae, thickly mustachoid with that characteristic upward twist of his end-mustache, used to frequent the makan shops around the central market at jalan temenggong.
he cannot be a schiz because he was too bouyant and gregarious in his character and exhortations. could well be a chronic bipolar in persistent manic phase.

when he saw a young lady crossing crossing the busy street , for example, he would shout, in his well known guttural , coarse , voice:

" heh! demo mulut mergah tu! comel weh demo!...margi bining dengan kawae lah! "
[ heh! that young lady with the red gincu! are beautiful...come marry me!   ]

tok awae was a very popular figure to the point one of our famous poet of that time, moyhiddin, penned a sajak about him in his weekly column in the national newspaper, berita harian.

tok wali sa'ad. 
he is the chap that make me write this piece. 
always impeccably dressed in white. white serban  and white baju tok, very distinguished looking old man. loaded as well  since he traveled in and around kota bharu with a private rickshaw . apparently he come from melur, and more usually than not his rickshaw man will 'drive' him thru jalan teliput before he make his daily round in kota bharu.

the wird sent to me by dato yeh this early morning on my whats happ, reminded me of tok wali sa'ad actually. how can i forget him. he was just a 'janggut close' to me one fine morning. i was playing around the house compound at teliput oe fine late morning ,playing hotpscotch and marble with a couple of  girls and boys, our neighbour, while waiting to walk to school for the afternoon session school.
suddenly there was this booming voice, " ya latif , ya latif, ya latif, ya latif...", directly above me.
i looked up and there he was...tok wali sa'ad himself!

all of us ran for dear life.
tok wali sa'ad was actually very benign.

my life with respect to tok wali sa'ad actually come whole circle recently.
i had a small querrel with najib's lhdn recently who has become over-creative in looking for more fund to support their oneamgedebe. they are coming after us , poor doctors.

so i wrote to my sheikk, sheikh ninowy asking for a wirid or two.
he suggested , " ya latif, ya latif , ya latiff....", a total of a hundred 29 times following 2 rakaat of sunnat/ hajat prayer or whatever.
shaykh al yacoubi of syria also agrees on this.
it work insyaallah, alhamdullillah!!...but you need to be persistent. 
do it as a daily wirid for months or weeks .

tok wali sa'ad has got a system in his madness.
the kelantanese call this 'iseng'.
i remember my sis  in law some years ago warned me,
" howk, tok leh belajar tafseer baco hamka, nanti jadi iseng! "
[ howk, dont learn the ugama reading hamka's can go mad ]
that is the typical advisory one get when trying to learn the ugama just a wee bit deeper than the usual , occassional  tazkirah one use to get from the madrasah, which is usually non structured.

try learning the ugama from just one ustaz or tok guru, and then one occasionally get slotted into the unnecessary groups with unnecessary leanings...wahabbis, the mad sufi's, the kampong ustaz, the liberals etc etc.

the safest bet is actually, in my humble opinion, to get some modicum of ugama knowledge from one's madrasah or masjid by attending regular magrib or subuh congregational prayers and the tazkirah that follows, and from there  build on it by reading voraciously books on ugama and start your journey from . these provide the necessary check and balances, ie safety in numbers.

with due respect to  people like ustaz abdullah yasin , ustaz azhar idrus, rasul dahari, maulana asri or that mufti from wang kelian, of whom are all good ustazs and have good intentions, don't  just be limited by one tok guru only, lest one become too myopic.  the best is to have several or many, has to move on from there, and finally choose which schools or leaning one is comfortable with.

dont let one tok guru or one ustaz 'straight jacket' you into his own narrow understanding of islam. islam is a wide spectrum.

read, read, read and read........and think.
with the proviso , you have some basic  in the ugama of course.
this is way madrasah attendance is important because it opens one to a variety of tok gurus initially.

dont worry you would not end up being 'iseng'.
and even if one become 'iseng' like tok wali sa'ad, i would like to reassure my sister in-law, if she is reading this, is still ok.

we who want and dare to take this journey call  this, 'essence'.
then , you can choose to be a sufi, a wahabbi, hanafi, maliki, shafei, a salafi  or just will be ok, insyaallah!

ya fattah, ya razak, ya wahab, ya ghaniy , ya mughni;
ya qodim, ya daim , ya ahad , ya wahid, ya samad;
ya allah, ya rahman, ya rahim , ya hayyu , ya qayyum, ya rabb, ya zaljalalilwal ikram;
ya ghaniy, ya hameed, ya mubdiu , ya mu'id, rahim ya wadud;

ya latif , ya latif, ya latif , ya latif.............

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