We were staying in an apartment after ibu has been promoted. It was not huge, the place was secluded, and most facilities were not easily obtained - less public phones, no family stores, no restaurants or stalls nearby. To conclude, we were out of nowhere:(
The apartment was in the compound of government's quarters; whereby the community consists of teachers and their families. Our nearest neighbour was a group of female single teachers and four more families on level one and ground floor. I was a senior in college; my younger brother, Shahmi, was in his freshman year. The other two brothers were still studying in Seremban.
The all-Malay community was nice. Even though some of my neighbours were too stingy to pay for the electricity bill to ensure the corridors lights were switched on at night, we still had our Family Day and other activities. Some of my neighbours were friendly too. Most of their stories were about their children accomplishment - either it was about the daughter who was studying in not-so-famous boarding school or about the son who learned how to say, "Mommy!" The community also practiced a health competition in terms of whose car is the biggest and whose house has the latest furniture. This has been shown when Pakcik Sayur came into the compound on weekends. In the community, we celebrated even the smallest thing;)
Our family had a massive cultural shock. I was home on weekends; so I didn't pay that much of attention. Furthermore, I was just a senior, remember? Nobody would pay attention if you took the bus to college. People would just asked, "Kenapa tak belikan anak kereta, Kak Kiah?" or they would divert the conversation to their children's greatness. As for my parents, I encouraged them to socialise as long as they were not talking about their children. I bet nobody would listen, they were too busy talking:P
During Family Day, we had barbeque. I asked my brothers to play gentleman by not touching the food until the children had their part. Sadly, my neighbours taught their children to take as much as they wanted to; regardless whether they ate the squid or the cockles. In the end, there were lots of wastage. Never mind then, because they were all rich and successful - there was no concern at all. The money was like water, what was there in one kilogram of prawns? Who said that government is not paying the teachers well?
(please sense the sarcasm before getting sensitive, okay?)
Suddenly, there was a sound of a person singing:
Errr...Broery? Everyone was silent.
It was the uncle who stayed on the ground floor. I personally thought that there would be other uncles after he sang Biar Bulan Bicara but it didn't happen. From Broery, the uncle changed his voice to A. Ramly, M. Osman, A. Rahman Hassan and the famous and talented S. Jibeng. The uncle? He was talented too. He was so passionate; he didn't realise everyone was yawning;)
Few months later, we had another event in the compound. The son of the Pakcik 60an was getting married (we finally got a name for him!). One of my neighbours who talked about her newly-purchased car forgot to take care of her own children. The children were choking because their mother was so busy gossiping - she forgot to serve the water in a buffet wedding. My brother who was serving the guests looked at our neighbour differently while he handed the glass to her children. The other neighbour, who was famous with her bright daughter was nowhere in scene. Apparently, the daughter's PMR result was too brilliant - she had further her form four in a normal school because she was too bright to study in a boarding school. The boarding school was not accepting her to continue her studies there.
Later that night, the groom's family had a karaoke session and as expected, the father of the groom was singing. But this time, the mother of the groom joined him along with his stepmother. Apparently, our Pakcik 60an had two wives and both wives were taking turns to sing with him. During joget lambak, both wives held their beloved husband. One of my brothers cheekily compared both wives and based on our findings we didn't see that much of comparison except that one was dark while the other was fair.
How about the bride?
If she was stunned with everything (just like our neighbours who couldn't stop whispering), she managed to hide it very...very well. She didn't flinch a bit when both her mother-in-law and her stepmother-in-law were dancing like the women in Malam Pesta Muda Mudi (the one with Mahmud June as Pak Maon in the video clip!). The morning ended romantically - both wives were satisfied with the dancing. All eigth children of Pakcik 60 an (from both sides) were the spectators of their parents' happiness:)
My father and my three brothers went to a stall in the village. Ibu and I stayed at home. I heard the stall served nice Mee Kembang (or famously known as Cantonese Beehoon), so I ordered for take away. There was one small stage near the stall meant for karaoke. It was 12.00 a.m. and it was all-men event;)
When they reached home, all of them were laughing. I asked my brother what was happening - all of them started talking at the same time. They said they were listening to the single mothers who were singing Kocok-Kocok from Inul D when they saw a familiar face with a young Indonesian lady. The man who was wearing a batik shirt meant for general election; sang Cinta Sabun Mandi with his heart and the Indonesian lady was dancing. Frankly speaking, my brothers didn't know whether the fascination from the Indonesian lady was sincere;)
They sang and they danced. Dangdut was the music. No more A.Ramli. No more M.Osman. No joget lambak. Everything has changed. Their butts rolled 360 degrees and they forgot about the eyes who were watching. Mee Kembang had certainly expanded the size of my brothers' throats!
Suddenly, the DJ played a very groovy song which started with:
"Sekujur badan berselimut putih
Rebah bersemadi sendiri..."
The singers sang the chorus heartily:
"Selamat tinggal pada semua
Berpisah kita selamanya
Kita tak sama nasib di sana
Baikkah atau sebaliknya..."
The man along with his Indonesian paramour paid for their drinks and went out of the stall abruptly.
The three boys were grinning.
They said to my father, "Pakcik 60an transformed into Pakcik Dangdut. This time, with a new partner."
I wonder what my former neighbours would say about this...
Those naughty brothers of mine. I hope they will learn from this:
Sometimes, there are rooms to brag. Too many to gossip.
I knew my brothers were hurt, as much as I did.
People talked and talked without realising we can do the same thing.
We can gossip. We can brag.
Is it worth it when we have our own weaknesses?