Looking back at life – A prologue
My tokki planted paddy. Vast acres of paddy and I had always trying to find excuses and time to spend the whole wonderful day with him in the paddy field, lending my hand whenever I could, even as a toddler. I could spend almost the entire day running here and there, basking and rolling on pile of paddy hays, catching dragonflies and quail while keeping both my tokki and tok busy running after me trying to keep me from tumbling into buffalo dungs. So even as a very young child, I learned to take notice and look admiringly at the world around me.
At that toddler age, I had to move and followed my father migrating all around Terengganu, as my father worked as a ‘Renjer Mergastua”. Dungun and Kemaman was two of my favorite places and kept many fond memories. This nomadic life brought me even closer to nature. On many rare occasions my father would ‘disappear’ from home, most of the time without me noticing his disappearance, and he went into the jungles for one of his official duties. This could last for few days or even weeks. When he came back, he would bring back many beautiful animals, some were orphans (siamang, ungka, porcupine, sun bear, mouse deer or even tigers – of course they were babies). He would keep the exotic animals for a while at our house and let me play with those beautiful creatures before he handed them over to the authority. Ironically, these days I am not that fond to keep animals as pets in my house.
We moved back to Kuala Terengganu when I was 11 years old. Once again I enjoyed the serene kampung life. I always welcome the monsoon season as the paddy fields would by this time, again filled with water and brought life to the surrounding area. It was a splendid time to ‘berkubang’ like a water buffalo, again in the clogged paddy fields fishing for ‘haruan’ and ‘puyu’. My siblings and other cousins would join me, getting wet under the torrential rain, sitting patiently and motionlessly along the paddy field with fishing rod at hand, trembling full of excitement with every bite we had from the underwater creatures. Mamee was our staple food those days. When evening came, we would go out again to the fields putting the ‘tauk’ in selective spots and left them overnight hoping that they won’t catch anything that slithered the next morning.
At the age of 12, solely influenced by my father’s early education, I made one of the best decision of my life. Out of the 25 classmates in the Sultan Sulaiman Primary School, I was the only one opted to pursue my secondary education in one of the renown ‘Sekolah Arab’ in Kuala Terengganu – SMU Sultan Zainal Abidin, Ladang. In fact, I was the only one from the school to pilgrimage from a ‘secular’ to the so-called Arabic school. I spent three wonderful years there, deciphering the complexity of the Arabic language before I moved on to the newly established college at Gong Badak – KUSZA. Gong Badak was then like a plain Serengeti, void of any development. KUSZA was still in its embryonic phase. My batch became the pioneer. That was actually the first boarding school experience for me, away from the comfort of my tokki’s home. It was another phase of my life, worth further elaboration on its own.
Looking back at those wonderful primordial years, the phases that shaped me as what I am today, I feel the sense of self consciousness. It was deeply personal but full of contradiction. Thus feeling leading me to come to term with the fact that I am old.
tauk = A short bamboo with bait (normally a puyu fish)