(My dad’s parents house aka my dad’s side grandma house used to be here somewhere. Now the area has been closed off and redeveloped. The old place has been completely lost. Photo source: Google Earth)
I have been thinking about it for some time – of writing down my childhood memories of people, places and events. I lived in both my grandma houses (one from my dad’s side and another from my mom’s side) and encountered many interesting and hard to forget memories – I might as well, start writing them down before I start to forget it.
To set some goals for me to write this, I will try to do this as a series, posted every Wednesday (keyword: “will try”).
I will start with my grandma’s house – grandma here is from my dad’s side. I did not really like her (I don’t know why but perhaps she looked and sounded mean), in fact, I was not really close to her other children (my uncles and aunties from my dad’s side) and thankfully my other grandma (maternal grandma) & uncles (from my mom’s side) was always there to “rescue” me.
The grandma’s house was in Serdang Lama – now high-speed train runs through the place now. In the 1970s and 1980s, that place was different from what it is now. Back then, from the main road, where there was a railway crossing, one needs to walk through an unpaved road passing a huge house on the left (another relative of ours was staying there) till a point where the road splits into 2 – on the left, it heads towards a charcoal factory whilst the right, lining along the railway track heads towards a Malay village.
One needs to take the left road – passing by the charcoal factory. There are plenty of freshly cut tree trunks lying on the roadside and one needs to be very careful with huge trucks coming in and out their loads of tree trunks and finished charcoal. The factory itself is a makeshift brick building with 2 hot kilns in it – one can see burning tree trunks in it on a daily basis.
Once past this factory, the sight changes – we will come to a square-shaped field with 4 houses surrounding it. The biggest house is, of course, belongs to my grandma with 3 – 4 family members including my dad were staying. The field is always green with grasses – every evening without fail, we will have cows from a Punjabi family living nearby would be roaming on this field. Surrounding the houses and the field was coconut trees and on the opposite side of the entrance, there was a huge lake (dried as I can recall) and a path leading a cowherd.
At the back of the grandma’s house was a small hill where there was a Malay house and thereafter the railway track.
There were 4 rooms in the house to sleep – so we had 3 families in 3 of the rooms leaving one for the unmarried uncle. Walking towards the back was the kitchen and small room for provisions. There was a huge water tank right in the kitchen for collecting rainwater. Those days, we took a shower in collected rain waters.
I can’t really recall which room I used to sleep in but I still remember of the room where the bed was on higher grounds (the lower area was used to keep bags, etc). There was a small garden at the side of the house where we get some of the vegetables for cooking.
(The only source of light in the house during the night – Photo source: http://hometown.aol.co.uk/)
I think we had piped water which was used for cooking but definitely there was no electricity. So, there were no fans, TV or radio during the night. The evening starts with my uncle starting up kerosene lamps for the family.
It was warm in the night (we sweat very fast) but we had no choice – the only entertainment that I recall is where people sit together and having chit-chats. Almost every night, we go to bed early (and wake up early). There were no toilets – so we small kids have to go “outdoor” on the dried lake for our “big businesses”.
Fresh coffee and bread was the ideal breakfast in this house and it was served almost on a daily basis. Once in a while, we may have roti canai with sugar for the small kids but the bread was there as the main item. Probably the best thing I had in this house was the bread with hot coffee (freshly blended from a shop nearby). Lunch was a normal here – typical Indian food but shared with other kids in the house.
The best thing about this house was the railway track. Dangerous (when I think about it now) but if you could get close enough to the tracks when the train is passing by (there were no fences to keep people out from the tracks), the feeling is simply explosive. It is even better here because the train driver would sound the train horns just before the railway crossings. Wow!
To be continued…