Monday, July 28, 2008

Postcard-perfect memory

I had seen it.

A black and white postcard of a single coconut tree on the rock at Pantai Kemasek under the glass cabinet of one photo shop that I could not remember where. I knew I had seen it as I was sure seen it in a book of collection of Malaya postcards, or something like that, I think.

I remember that postcard as much as I remember that coconut tree. Coconut tree don’t grow on rocks but this one did. That makes it special. That someone in the time when cameras were rare and owned by the few that recognized its significance makes it even more special.

I wonder sometimes, why I tend to remember all these pictures in my mind’s eye. I can’t remember names and faces to the chagrin of my contacts and business partners, even friends – bad for business they said, but I can recall vivid details of things from my life years ago.

Like the way lights penetrated through the ‘kerawang’ of one rumah Tok Ngah next to rumah Awang Hitam in Kemasek. Yes Tok Ngah the ‘tilam kekabu maker’ if you can still remember. Remember her going about the kampong delivering a roll of tilam on her head?

Like the streaks of white and red lines on the rocks of Bukit Batu Taping?

Like the breaking of waves on the rocky cliff seen from the top of that same hill that I often climbed alone some school holidays years ago?

Remember Tokeh Abung?

The crazy Taiwan University graduate that cycles round the kampong talking, giving speech out loud only to himself?

And should I add that he wore a pair of the famous architect Phillip Johnson’s like glass to accentuate his intellectual disposition?

Remember Mok Su Che Sek?

Oh her? Her pet rooster?

I promised myself I’d write about her someday but just couldn’t get around to it. I know I must for she was my nanny and years later when I return to Terengganu she found me.

We have all left Kemasek years ago. It now is only a town we pass by on the way. But memories of the growing up years linger. The courthouse on the hill, still standing the last time I passes by.
The balairaya that is no longer there.

The house of Tok Penghulu Wan Hamid, the house of Mak Wan Gayah where I was born and the house of Pak Man Porong.

Majlis Tempatan Kemaman Utara?

The long timber bridge linking Kampung Feri to Kuala Kemasek?

There can never be enough space in one’s writing to capture all that recollection.. But nevertheless I must. I owe it to them children.

The coconut tree had fallen off ages ago. Nothing was left to proof its existence save for that one postcard. For that I must seek.

For, that postcard was the epitome of a picture perfect memory.

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