Saturday, June 16, 2007

Jangan Lupa Kawan Lama

coffee

6.00pm. Immediately our body clocks signalled tea-time.



Having tea with friends at the mamak (said in the very broadest of terms) stall is a Malaysian pastime. It's a time to take a break from the drudgery of work as we make our way to the stall and partake of the local fare. Half an hour later, after a satisfactory meal, we return to our tables and chairs and computers and calculators and files. Until it's time to go home.



Pretty Pui (PP) and I had a favourite tea-time stall. Located at Jalan Tun Sambanthan 3, opposite the Petronas petrol station in Brickfields, we had been frequenting this place for several years. The slightly wrinkled man with smiling eyes knew our orders by heart. I would get a teh halia (ginger tea) while Pretty Pui's order was a Nescafe Ais. If we wanted to eat the prepacked nasi lemak, we knew we had to go there early. I would always request for extra sambal for that extra oomph. And sometimes, when I felt extravagant, I'd order a fried omelette, generously drizzled with soy sauce, for that lovely saltiness that tasted so good. On days when we were staying back late at the office, we would order maggi goreng (fried instant noodles) or nasi goreng (fried rice).



At this stall, PP and I would update each other on accounting standards, legal updates and news of the stock market.



That would have taken the whole of 2 minutes.



For the next 28 minutes, we would discuss in detail on ways to get the attention of the cute guy next door.



Occasionally, the wrinkled man with smiling eyes (we called him Uncle) would join in our discussions and offer us nuggets of wisdom. Well, not about getting the attention of the cute guy, but about life in general. He'd always say that it didn't matter what our jobs were, as long as we earned an honest living.



He led a simple and happy life. When his daughter gave birth, he explained that his wife, who normally worked by his side, had to stay at home to help take care of the grandchild. He loved his wife, giving her whatever she wanted. On Deepavali day, he'd go to Jalan Masjid India to buy new clothes for his wife and his children, ignoring his own needs. He always told us that he didn't need much to be happy.



Weeks before we moved out of Brickfields, PP and I discussed how we'd inform Uncle of our move. "He's definitely going to be upset", we told each other. "We need to soften the blow."



When we finally summoned the courage to tell him (or perhaps, it was only a way of comforting ourselves of the big move), he took a deep breath and his eyes looked tired. "Jangan lupa kawan lama," he told us. Don't forget old friends.



For months after the move, despite not being able to visit his stall as frequently as we did before, PP and I still made the effort to drive over to Uncle's stall for our favourite drinks and familiar company. When one of us went without the other, he'd ask, "Mana kawan? Ada sihat?" (Where's your friend? Is she okay?) Sometimes, Boss Man visited his stall, and he'd come back and tell us that Uncle asked about us. Boss Man told us that he could tell that Uncle was very fond of us. Words like that warmed our hearts.



Y Y Y



It has been over a month since I last visited Uncle's stall. Boss Man told me today that Uncle had passed away from a heart attack 2 weeks ago. I never got to say goodbye.



This is my goodbye. What a privilege it has been to be a part of your life. I'll never forget you, old friend.


31 comments:

wmw said...

Goodbye Uncle!

msiagirl said...

Really felt touched. You wrote a fitting memorial. hugs.

Lee Ping said...

Dear LL,
It was very nice of you to remember your old friend. I remember reading WMW's post on Kuih Tutu. Malaysians are tightly bonded, don't you think? So proud to be one.

p/s this is the intro to your novel, perhaps?

Big Boys Oven said...

I have come across such incident, really sad.

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

wmw: hard to say goodbye.

msiagirl: thanks. wish i could get that hug. I've never been so affected by someone's death in a long time. Perhaps it is because I felt that he was family.

lee ping: novel? :-) I took your advice on Tip 3.

big boys oven: yeah. really sad.

k.t.x said...

there r people who happen to touch us in certain point of our lives huh? at times, they really kinda make some impact without us really realizing it.

my permanent barber fr tamilnadu, the chi cheung fun man who knows exactly wat i want altho i dun patronize much nowadays due to a slight drop in quality(lol), the old pakistani laksa man whom i also did not patronize that often now because i prefer homecooked food lately, the roti ting2 man.

altho none of them offers me words of wisdom, juz a "woi sudah pi mana? bila balik kayel? wah, rambut sudah panjang ar? mana adik?(because he is more hensem then me...wtf, lol)"

sooyin said...

This was a very touching post...it's amazing how some people can make such an impact on your life when you least expect it...

team BSG said...

with friends like u...
...dun need no...

WokandSpoon said...

That was a really lovely hommage to a nice man!

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

k.t.x: There are people who come into our lives and touch us, and they don't necessarily have to be those of the same background and education level as us. Honesty and sincerity have a way of affecting us that material wealth can't come close to. I like your anecdote about the barber, the chee cheong fun man and the laksa man. The "woi pi mana bila balik kayel" question shows concern and interest, and I'll take those questions anytime as opposed to the "Dahlink!!..looking good..love your Prada..did you get it at the GSS? *airkissing*" question.

sooyin: I guess the important thing is to open our eyes and be aware of the people around us, and to open our hearts and allow them in. :-)

team bsg: a trailing remark like yours makes me want to fill in the blanks, but somehow, the most obvious missing word is "enemies", and I certainly hope you don't mean that!!! :-P hehe.

wokandspoon: thanks. I don't want to forget him. He was such a nice man.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

that is indeed a very sad story..dont you think..its also worse if u happen to drop by hoping to see ur kawan lama then realising his time is up..

IronEaters said...

Its really touching. Its sad when you don't have the chance to even say goodbye...*hugs*

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

joe: yup, that would be a terrible way of finding out. But when you think about it, is there a good way of finding out about someone's death? Anyway one says it, it will still leave you numb.

ironeaters: thanks for the hugs. :-)

The Cooking Ninja said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your old friend. Hugs

teckiee said...

I feel your emotions in your post... may he RIP

Paprika said...

I'm sure Uncle is touched by your post wherever he is. Sorry you lost an old friend. May he be at peace.

jason said...

Sorry to hear that. I'm sure he's happy that an old friend/customer still remembers him, whenever he is. Hugs

gRaCe said...

it's always sad losing a friend.. and it's also very hard to find someone like Uncle who take the initiative to care. I'm sure he'll know how much you're missing him. *hugzz..*

Kenny Mah said...

"He'd always say that it didn't matter what our jobs were, as long as we earned an honest living."

"He always told us that he didn't need much to be happy."


Too right. It's these simple rules of life that I seem to take the longest route round to get to understanding. But never too late.

Maybe you didn't get to say goodbye. But you always have a place for him in your heart, and that's what matters most in the end. Good friends come and go, but the best ones we keep close, wherever they may go.

You're a pretty darn good friend yourself, my dear. A darn good one. *hugs*

team BSG said...

..."others"...my dear

Pink Elle said...

What a touching entry. It's amazing sometimes how the people we least expect can touch us so deeply in our lives.

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

the cooking ninja: it's hard to deal with his death. thanks.

teckiee: yes, may he rest in peace.

paprika: I just wish I could have told him this while he was still living. Instead, I cracked stupid jokes to him.

jason: Uncle had many friends who probably feel the same way I do. He touched many lives.

grace: thanks. yes, am really really sad about Uncle's death. Wish I could have said more, done more..

kenny mah: you're right...it is more important to keep our best friends close to our hearts, no matter where they may be. (*you know who you are*) I'm learning that lesson on an accelerated pace this year. At least you're still here. thanks, dear. :-)

team bsg: aaaaaahhh. sorry, dear...on different wavelengths, as usual. at least, in the end, we understand each other.

pink elle: yes, it's important to be open to possibilities, with new friendships at every corner. As bloggers, I believe we've all discovered that. :-)

Precious Pea said...

So sad....may he rest in peace.

Tummythoz said...

*hold ll's hand with quiet anticipation to hear more antidotes about the sweet uncle*

babe_kl said...

when i read the heading... i sensed its gonna be one of those "news". i'm so sorry to hear of this but i think Uncle would not have much regrets in his life. RIP Uncle! and a "hug" to you

Coketai said...

Well, I saw so many flogger drop a few words on this entry, I thaught I should do so: What I want to say is, they is somebody out there which we met everyday, not knowing that he/she has become part of our life until one days we feel missing of his/her loss! but the good things is this person will always still in our memory forever being walk thru the memory path together with us!

Goodbye Uncle! ( Although I don't know whose you are but you belong to those kind of person I mentioned above!)

Tummythoz said...

Ono. Did a boo-boo. Shd be anecdotes NOT antidotes.

Kenny Mah said...

You do sound slightly better today; I guess being occupied over the weekend does help. In time, the grief over the loss will ease but the memories won't. You'll do fine. :)

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

precious pea: yes...may he RIP.

tummythoz: I have loads more anecdotes. :-) He used to tease me about my strange accent when I attempted to speak tamil. But despite that all, he encouraged me to learn and even taught me and PP certain basic words in tamil. What a man!

babe_kl: yeah, the title was a giveaway. :-) I am sure Uncle did not have much regrets in life. :-)

coketai: yes, you're absolutely right. there are some people who have become a regular part of our lives, from the nasi lemak vendor in the morning, to the cleaning lady to the receptionist to the person behind the counter selling tickets...I mean, it could be anyone who has shown a kind gesture. Imagine now, what an impact we could possibly create in somebody else's life just by showing some kindness. A little bit certainly goes a long way.

kenny: thanks for your concern. Thanks for the phonecall and the email to see if I was okay. Yeah, my weekend was hectic, and it did help somewhat in easing the pain of loss. My memories will remain, and even when I've lost it, at least I have my blog to help me remember. :-P I knew my blog would be good for something eventually. hehe.

sc said...

so sad :(. i read this morning and i wanna cry. may uncle rip..

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

sc: i was in tears when i found out the news too.