Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Father, The Chinaman

He has passed away many years ago but his name still lingers within the local Tanjong Bungah's community

1st recall.

On one fine day , I was wondering how the sea shore at the back of our old house where I was born would look like after so many years. While walking along the small path , I saw three elderly Malay men sitting beneath an old tree. As usual I bowed my head slightly and wished them, "Selamat Pagi", ( Good morning) and immediately walked past them. They too returned my wish with a low tone, "Pagi", (Morning). Upon reaching the seaside, I was very surprised at the changes . Nevertheless, I was very happy for the beach was quite clean like it was before. I recalled how I would play with the Freebie when the wind was very strong. This freebie was given to me by my eldest brother from the US. It took me many hours of practice and finally I mastered it. I would throw it into the air, against the wind ,and eventually it would return back to my hand . This beach brought back many good and bad memories.

I recalled another dangerous accident that happened to me. On that day while walking along the shore I was washed and dragged into the sea by a very strong wave in front of many people, all sunbathing on higher ground. I was trying to cross to the other side but accidentally slipped and fell into the rough sea . Luckily for me, I was able to relax and allow the wave to pull me back into the sea. I closed my eyes and was worried that I would hit some rocks beneath the wave. I immediately swam out into the sea in accordance with the wave. When I returned back to the shore, my swimming truck was so full of the sand that I could feel that it would slip off my body. Standing up I immediately, pulled open the trunk and let all the sand out. Looking around, I was very scared and happy that I was not too far from the sea shore. Still panicky, I waited for the next wave that would push me back to the sea shore. Eventually, I landed on the shore and all the RAAF's ( Royal Australian Air Force) personnel who saw the whole incident came over to me and asked me whether I was ok. I thanked them. Shaken and tired, I started to jog back .

Well,there were many good and bad incidents. Looking again at the sea, I decided to go home. Again I hadto pass the three wise Malay men. I was very surprised when they called me this time, "Anak Say Eng ,mari sini" ( Say Eng's son come here). I immediately went over to them and they introduced themselves as retired policemen who were formerly stationed at the Tanjong Bungah police station. They asked me where I was staying and how my Dad ( Say Eng) was.I told them that he had passed away and they were quite sad upon hearing the news.
All of a sudden, they told me that during the olden days when they were working in the police station, my father was trusted by all of them and whenever my dad came and bailed somebody out, they would allow it without further inquiries. Even the Penghulu ( local headman) trusted my Dad a lot. Wow, I thanked them for the information and walked back to my car that was parked along the main road. In the car, I started to think about the issue and asked myself how a Chinaman could gain so much trust with the local people.

2nd recall

On a Sunday afternoon, I heard somebody calling my dad . At the gate was a Malay man calling my dad and upon further questioning, he told my dad that his mum would like to meet him. I asked my dad whether that was a problem. My dad just smiled and said it had to do with money , probably a debt. I asked my dad whether he wanted to collect the debt back and he said a firm 'No".Then, I told him that we had to take along a red packet envelope in case she still insisted on paying the debt.
Upon arrival at her home, she took out a small little booklet, (555) and told my Dad that she wished to pay the amount in it. (Oops, I have forgotten to tell you all that my dad owned a grocery shop and some of the locals would purchase goods or foodstuff from us and the amount owed would be recorded and paid at the end of each month) As predicted she still insisted to pay even when my dad said there was no need.
Hence, my dad collected the cash from her and immediately told her that she had no more debt with us. Turning around he asked me to put the money into the red packet and returned the red packet to her. At the beginning she did not want to accept it but my dad told her he was giving her as a "Ang Pow" for her journey and wished her,Bon voyage.
I asked my dad why he decided not to take the amount and he mentioned to me that ALL of us have grown up and have got good careers. We no longer needed this money. Hence the decision.

In Education

A few days back, my eldest brother forward a photograph to me which I would like to attach in this blog. Well, the printed words were self explanatory . It was to giving back to the society.My eldest brother and his wife contributed to an educational institution by setting up a conference room.If my father was around he would be very happy that his eldest son and daughter -in- law completed part of his wish and mission. Well, if only I could do too.......!

The Chung Ling story.

My sister and brother in law taught in Chung High School, Penang. One day, my sister told us of a story when a student in her school approached her to ask her about my eldest brother who was also from Chung Ling. My sister said that the student went to KL for a scholarship interview and after the interview , the interviewer told him the scholarship was offered by an ex student of his school by the surname, Mr. Kang. The student asked my sister whether it could be her younger brother and my sister replied likely not but then the real truth is that it was.

The Golden Drawer.
............record of debt owed to my father still
kept here till today.


  1. Incredibly touching and heartwrenching story. Your father was, indeed, a special man!

  2. Your father was very wise