Reflection Of My Childhood

by Patrick Liew on August 20, 2019

Reflection Of My Childhood

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

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, and looking at my old house.

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

Many parts were already badly run-down, and 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 who have left us – and the times we had spent together.

During those days, we had no television, computer or any modern luxury.

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

While growing up, we crafted all kinds of plans – both good and bad – and made them happen.

There were enough programmes to occupy a child’s mind with happy memories until the evening of his life.

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) fish.

Now and then, there would be some brave souls who would pop a few of the fish 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.

I had to literally sacrifice blood and suffer bites from mosquitoes and other strange insects to catch the elusive king spider.

As a result of my passion and diligence, 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 battles 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).

Unfortunately, my secret formula was a losing formula.

I have never won a battle 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 the “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 pushcart of titbits stationed along the main road.

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

Whenever we had a new guy joining us, we would play a trick on him.

At the end of the drinking 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 a while to bail him out.

By then, you should see the look on his face and hear our demeaning laughters.

During my childhood, I was a ‘key-less’ kid, not a latchkey kid.

My parents had to work very hard and was hardly at home during the day.

They would never entrust me with a key.

When my grandmother wasn’t around to open the door, I had to climb in and out of the house by stepping on 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 would totally forget about time.

You could imagine how I had to rush back to beat the “deadlines” otherwise I fear I would not have a life to live through another day of fun and excitement.

Just like Cinderella, if my parents ever caught me playing overnight, 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 had 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.

Smart move, right?

But it didn’t work because my parents were trained in the University of the Streets too.

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

I would not exchange it for any other childhood life.

Looking back, although my family was financially poor, I was not unhappy.

In fact, it was one of the best things to happen in my life.

I am proud of the fact that I grew up in poverty.

Poverty is one of the best drivers for progress.

Poverty helped me to become more grateful for every blessing in life. It helped me to value what truly matters in life.

I’m mindful that all of us can always find beauty in our lives regardless of the circumstances that we are in.

Discover enough goodness to help us to be grateful and thankful, and have a sense of wellbeing.

Just as importantly, we can have a deep sense of faith, hope and optimism to create the best futures for our lives.


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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