When my brothers and I were small, our favorite past time activities were playing badminton, climbing guava trees, catching tadpoles in rain water filled drains, cycling for miles everyday, playing card games with our neighborhood kids, flying kites, playing marbles, ‘congkak’ and much, much more. I remember plucking flowers grown at the compound of some random houses to suck the sweet nectar from the flowers. I knew which flowers had nectar and which didn’t. Every evening at 4-ish or 5-ish pm would be happy hour for my brothers and me. After watching Flinstones and Scooby Doo, we would dash out of the house to play with the other kids who were all boys, everyday. I was very much a tomboy. We spent a lot of time outdoors in the evening, about 2 hours everyday right until dinner was ready. My maternal granny was a fantastic cook and all her dishes were very sumptuous, though she used inexpensive ingredients.
I remember playing with dirt and soil in my garden, sticking my hands into the soil and digging out earth worms to play with these wriggly creatures. I don’t remember even washing my hands afterwards. And I don’t even remember my mum being overly clean with us.
I cycled to the river bank (without my mum’s knowledge) on my own at 9 years old to admire the scenery of the serene river and to another neighborhood just to pluck flowers and to play with dogs from people’s houses. I crashed my bicycle and flew like super girl onto the road a couple of times with badly grazed limbs. At 16, I rode on a racing bicycle for about 5 km every Sunday morning, braving and crossing congested traffic on big roads to attend Chemistry tuition. I got chased by dogs and nearly crashed my racing bicycle into the drain. When I turned 8 or maybe 9, I started to walk to the sundry shop about 5 minutes walk away from my house to help my mum buy flour and other groceries. She would always give me an extra 10 sen to buy hawflakes or maltose candy. In those days (from late 1970s through 1980s), kidnaps and road accidents were hardly heard of. I wonder what would happen to city kids now if they were to partake in all those activities that I mentioned here. They would be really, really lucky to get back home in one piece.
Once in a blue moon, my papa would bring the entire family for a movie treat. The 6 of us comprising my dad, mum, my 2 brothers, my maternal granny and I would cramp into my papa’s yellow Datsun 120Y car. I remember very vividly the movies that we watched together in the early 80s – The Ten Commandments, Poltergeist (1982), Star Wars I, Superman I and II, Possessed, Bewitched and many Jackie Chan movies. Papa was a big fan of Jackie Chan. Before we entered the cinema, my papa would treat us to boiled groundnuts wrapped in cone shaped newspapers sold at a cart outside the cinema. After the movie, we would all walk to a nearby roadside stall to have supper of ‘tong sui’ and ‘kuih talam’. Our life was this simple yet content back in the 80s.
Two weekends ago, the mil made a trip back to Ipoh to attend a wedding dinner. Before she returned to KL, she collected some goodies that my dad had prepared for his beloved daughter and grand daughters in KL. He cooked 3 bottles of pandan kaya, roasted some peanuts and pumpkin seeds and bought a big bag of raw groundnuts for us. He knows we all love eating boiled soft groundnuts. Thank you so much my dear papa for your unconditional love to us always 💕💕
Each time I eat boiled groundnuts, I would think of my cinema nights with my papa and my beloved family in Ipoh in the 80s. Money did not come very easily for us back then and we had to share our coneful of groundnuts. When we didn’t have enough groundnuts for sharing, we would suck on the groundnut shells, which were salty and tasty. My younger brother and I even had to share one seat in the cinema but we were very happy. I miss my simple and fulfilling childhood growing up in the beautiful town of Ipoh 💕💕