Reflecting On My Childhood…

by Patrick Liew on August 27, 2018

Reflecting On My Childhood…

As I sat at Toast Box in Kuala Lumpur, the nostalgic ambience brought back fond memories of yester-years.

I spent a lazy morning taking a trip back to my childhood days in my mind.

I saw myself standing at the junction of Kent Road and Rangoon Road once again, looking at my old house.

This is a small SIT flat – a much older and simpler version of the HDB flat.

Many parts were already badly run down, surrendered to the ravages of time and nature.

The paintwork had long been chipped away.

It would not be too difficult to spot the repairs needed to make it functional like today’s houses.

However, there is an old–world charm about my first home – thoughts of which would trigger beautiful memories for the rest of my life.

Behind and beyond brick and mortar, I could still see smiles and hear laughters.

Recall the wonderful people I grew up with – including those that have left us – and the times we spent together.

During those days, we had no television, computers or any modern luxuries.

What we had was a playful spirit and a creative mind to come out with all kinds of games and other activities.

We came out with all kinds of plans – both good and bad – and made them happen.

There were enough programmes to occupy a child’s mind for happy memories.

One day, we would be organising a relay race – with obstacles thrown in – around our “kampung” (village).

Another day, we would have a lot of fun catching “longkang” (small drain) fishes.

Now and then, there would be some brave souls who would pop a few of the fishes into the mouth – sashimi-style – to prove their manhood.

And then, we would have a good laugh when they suffered from diarrhoea for the rest of the day.

There were also endless expeditions to capture the best fighting spiders.

I held on to a long-standing myth that the best spiders would be found in the deepest parts of the bushes – bushes that were taller than me – and I had to suffer bites from mosquitoes and other strange insects to catch the next killer spider.

I had to literally sacrifice blood to catch the illusive king spider.

I was proud to have won our “kampung” fighting spider championships more than once in my childhood days.

At the start of the kite-flying season, the “kampung” kids would busily prepare for the battle ahead of and above them.

Every child would have his special recipe for making the meanest strings to cut loose competitors’ kites way up in the sky.

My secret formula was to dip the strings in strong glue and wax.

Then, I would coat it with finely grounded glass from fluorescent tubes.

Just to hold the strings at the end of the arduous process, I would need to wear a pair of strong gloves.

Repeat the process until my strings could even cut through the door. (If you believe me, you can believe anything in the world).

My secret formula was a losing formula. I have never won a fight in any of the kite-flying seasons. Still, I had a good time.

As if the day’s momentous events were not enough, the “kampung” kids would organise overnight activities too.

We organised night races and hikes around the city (and ‘red light’ areas too but we were too young to know much about “horizontal” activities).

Sometimes, we would buy a cup of coffee for five cents and have a marathon story-telling session at the nearby “sarabat” stall, a push cart of tit-bits stationed along the main road.

As we could not afford to buy more than one cup of any beverage, we would sip on the same cup of coffee sometimes for about six hours.

Whenever we had a new guy joining us, at the end of the session, a signal would be given.

Then, we would suddenly run in different directions.

The poor guy would be left behind, wondering how he could settle the bill.

Of course, we would return after awhile to bail him out.

By then, you should see the looks on his face and hear our demeaning laughter.

I was a ‘key-less’ kid, not a latch-key kid.

My parents had to work very hard and they would never entrust me with a key.

I had to climb in and out of the house by using water pipes, ledges, and windows.

For overnight activities, I had to wait for my parents to be asleep before I could slip out and I would return before they were awake.

That made for some exciting moments, especially when I had so much fun that I forgot totally about time.

You could imagine how I had to rush back to beat the “deadlines” otherwise I fear I would have a life to live through another day of fun and excitement.

Just like Cinderella, if my parents ever caught me, they would turn me into something that neither Cinderella nor myself would like.

Remember, those were the days when most parents abided religiously by the saying, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.”

I have always tried to hide the rod in the hope of being spared.

I might also put my school textbooks to good use by hiding them in my shorts to protect my bum. It didn’t work.

All in all, I had a happy and memorable childhood.

I would not exchange it for any other childhood life.

Looking back, I’m mindful that all of us can find beauty in our lives if we look for it.

Go4It!

I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!

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