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Abah in Memory

I came back to Malaysia after my late abah retires from serving the Queen of England via the British Army. He applied for the Malaysian citizenship although he was given a choice to become a Singaporean or a Briton after his long service with the British corps. He sees no reason why he needed to be either a Singaporean or a Briton as he was born in Pontian, Johore. I still have his citizenship certificate until today.

Abah was born to a police officer whom retires and passed away in Malacca. He did not see much of his dad as the later was on the move all the time. According to him when his dad was transferred to Malacca he married to another woman. Abah never knew who his step brothers and sisters were.

I never met either my grandfather or grandmother who is abah’s parents. Neither do I have met the same of mak. Mak was an adopted daughter of a policeman in Taiping. Her parents were believed to be of Thai’s. I only knew mak’s birth place from her identity card and the adoption certificate that abah showed to me once. Mak was born in Telok Anson if my memory serves me right.

After the passing of abah’s dad, his mum, I only knew as Melur, remarried and shifted to Sumatra. That is all I know. Abah was 13 years old I think. Abah later asked her mum to let him follow a man named Abu Bakar, a religious teacher to Johore as he didn’t like working in his step father sugar cane farm. Her mother accepted his wish. After his step father passed away, his mum came back to Pontian and stayed there until her passing. Abah did come back to Pontian a few days before his mum passed away.

During Japanese occupation, abah went to Japanese school. He could speak little Japanese. He always sang one sweet Japanese song to us. He said the Japs called him Ichiro-san. That is his name in the Japanese school he went.

After the return of the British to Malaya, abah was about 15 years old. One day while out playing a British army personnel approach him and asked whether he wanted to join the British Army Corps. Abah took that chance as he said that is the only way he could get out from his kampong and see the world. He came back the next day to sit for some test and he passed with flying colors. Some of the kampong folks detest his cause as he was the youngest aspirant. His foster father did not like the idea either.

One week later he left a small note to his foster father, encik Abu Bakar and off he goes to join other hopefuls to Singapore. After going through the basic training everybody is asked to sign for service. One year, 2 years, 5 years, and all that jazz. I could not recall this one really. Abah opted for the maximum service of 22 years. Even the British army personnel were stunned. According to abah they gave him some money and a week’s leave to think about it. Even the Mat Salleh doesn’t do that. Abah has made up his mind. He took the money and spent it joyfully coming back a week later to sign for 22 years service. I was told that they gave him a red ink to put down his signature. Abah was commissioned as a Bombardier into the British Army Corps. His last posting in the corps was in the Royal Corps of Transport or RCT as I always heard him saying to his colleagues.

During his service in the army, abah took night classes and he was conferred Class A from Pitman (UK). His achievement was published in the newspaper in Singapore. I think that is equivalent to Diploma in Office Administration today. I am not too sure about that. Having that qualification he was given desk jobs in the office doing correspondence and administration. His typing skills are immaculate as if he got eyes on his fingers. His English was impeccable.

In Malaya/Malaysia abah was always posted in Cameron Highlands with the British troops. I still have many pictures of him.

As a father, abah was a strict disciplinarian, a doting husband and I think he was very stylish looking at his photos. I regretted that I did not secure his portrait/photo that was displayed in one photography shop in Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman in Kuala Lumpur when I came to have my induction course with a bank when I was waiting for my Higher School Certificate result. The last I saw it was in the early eighties.

Abah will do everything he could for his family. He has never failed to give us whatever we wanted and knowing that, I have never asked anything from him except his blessings. That has made me a very independent person.

Abah left us on 31st January 2006 at 10.51 am at the age of 74. It was a Ma’al Hijrah. He succumbed to sepsis with acute on renal failure. To my understanding it is failure of the kidney to excrete nitrogenous waste products and to maintain fluid and electrolyte homeostasis. I knew that he would be gone the last time I visited him. A week earlier I sent him to the hospital and had a word with the doctor about his condition. The doctor showed me of his brain scan and I saw he also have numerous tiny blood clots in his brain. Little could be done to remedy that. The almighty have his say. Abah does not have a stroke.

On the way home he asked me to give him my Surah Yasin that I kept in the car. I told him that the printings were too small for him to read. I offered him a new one with bigger prints and he obliged. He was so happy with the one I bought for him as if he just received a million ringgit from me. Mak was also astonished with that.

After having lunch with him, it is time for me to leave for Kuala Lumpur. I hugged him and bade my salam to him. He looked into my eyes without saying anything. I knew that this is going to be the last time I would see him. I did not tell mak what my feeling was.

Exactly a week later, my sister called and said he has left all of us. I asked her to recite the Surah Yasin he has asked from me.

This is going to be the third Eid-ul-Fitr we are celebrating without him. I hope his soul is in peace. I know the many good deeds he has done in his life. I hope and am trying my best to be his anak yang soleh who could help him in his after life.

I love you abah though I have never utter the word to you before.

Al-Fatihah to you.

Salam and Cheers..


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