Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happiness is....(Part 3) Updated

Happiness is....well, it's still getting married. Only on Thursday I attended a wedding dinner (Happiness is....Part 2). Yesterday another one. This must be the season to get married.

Yesterday, Saturday 28 Nov 2009 must have been a good day to get married, although Christians are not supposed to believe in Feng Shui.

At the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Kota Kinabalu alone, there were four weddings. Pity the priests.

Over at nearby Tanjung Aru, there were two weddings at Stella Maris Church, one after another.

The one that my wife and I attended was presided over by Rev. Fr. Fundes Motiung. We were actually part of the choir. Too old to be a choir member? Well, as they say, as you get older you also want to be closer to God.

Can we sing? That's not important. As a priest from the Philippines once said: "If you can't sing, then all the more why you should sing for God; least he might take notice and take pity on you and turn your voice into a golden (or in Christian terms 'annointed') one."

There was also a bazaar in the compound of the Parish Hall adjacent to the Stella Maris Church, so you can imagine the crowd, the noise, the traffic jam and parking problem. The bazaar was to raise funds for the proposed new Catholic Church at Putatan. But I am not complaining here. As they say, the more (people) the merrier. And I am sure the new couple didn't mind that those going to the bazaar also had a glimspe of their big day!

The newly-weds, Mr Henry Issac Nicholas and the former Miss Marcella Louisa Jinusie in Western & Kadazan attire. Malaysia truly Asia.

The wordings on the cover of the Wedding Mass booklet yesterday was quoted from Ephesians. It was sentimental to my wife and me as we went to Ephesus, one of the Seven Churches stated in the Book of Revealation, in June.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

In Memory of Maah Ajuh (Updated)

Today I take a break from my 'Happiness is....' series. Something rather 'unhappy' happened.

I am referring to the death of Mr Maah Ajuh.

Today, Friday 27 November 2009 is a public holiday in Malaysia due to the Hari Raya Aidil Adha, otherwise known as Hari Raya Haji in conjunction with the Haj season in the Muslim Holy Land. It is also known as Hari Raya Korban (Feast of Sacrifice) to commemorate patriach Abraham's (Ibrahim in the Quran) obedience to God by his preparedness to sacrifice his son. God however was only testing Abraham's loyalty and stopped him from killing his son just in the nick of time.

Apart from that, it was of course Thanksgiving Day in America. Thus, I was in no hurry to wake up. On a holiday, I normally wake up only when my stomach tells me to.

However, Friday morning, I was awaken by a phone call. The caller said Mr Maah Ajuh had passed away in our hometown of Tamparuli a few hours earlier.

I forced myself out of bed, much as I would like to sleep for at least an hour more, washed and dressed up to go to Tamparuli and breakfast.

The late Maah was more than a childhood friend. He was also the drummer cum singer for our band, The Hornbill, in the late 1960s. He is seen in the centre of the picture above, holding his drum sticks. I am seated second from left.

The picture was taken in 1968 or sometime thereabout. It was taken soon after our band won the Tuaran-district level Battle of The Bands. As you can see, the picture, taken at the only studio in Tamparuli, was in black-and-white, which was the norm those days. And mind you, one has to wait for a few days then before you get to see your picture; compared to a few minutes (and in colour) now!

If I remember correctly, the picture was published in the local newspapers to announce our victory as well as the fact that we would be performing at the up-coming Tuaran Tamu Besar. The Tamu Besar, then held annually, was the biggest event of the district. The highlight was the beauty contest, just like the Kaamatan (Harvest Festival).

But the late Maah 'disappeared' just a few days before the Tamu Besar. He apparently left quietly for Kuala Lumnpur to be trained as a policeman! Luckily we had a standby drummer, though not as good as he.

Upon graduating from the Police Training Academy, the late Maah returned to Sabah to serve as a policeman, of course. Whenever he was off-duty, he would still play the drum for us.

Sometime in the late 1970s, the late Maah was seconded to become ADC (bodyguard) to the then Deputy Chief Minister cum Tamparuli Assemblyman, the late Dr James Ongkili.

After the defeat of the Berjaya party by PBS, the late Maah served Ongkili's successor and my classmate Datuk Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing in a similar capacity until recent years.

In between serving as a policeman and a bodyguard, the late Maah tried his hand in small businesses including starting a car-wash business beside his house by the main road which is still in operation.

The late Maah was a younger brother of the late Wugau Ajuh (also spelt Ugau) who was the Ketua Kampung (those days called Orang Tua) or village headman for Bontoi which is just next to Tamparuli town itself. Those days, the Orang Tua was influencial and highly respected by the native community.

Following Berajaya's victory in 1976, the late Ugau was promoted to Ketua Anak Negeri or Native Chief (NC) for Tamparuli. An NC oversees a group of village headmen. Ugau remained the NC until his death in the late 1970s. Co-incidentally, and if I am not mistaken, he also died on Hari Raya Haji day, just like his brother Maah.

The late Ugau was father to two of our singers in the late 1960s, Malim and Maliana Ugau. Malim and Maliana also appeared on local TV in the early 1970s, those days still in black-and-white. Together with our band sometimes, they also sang at various functions. Those days, entertainment or night life was limited (no Internet, no Video games, no Karaoke, no nothing. Even the Disco was not invented yet.) and people would hold a dance party and call a band at the slightest excuse - wedding, engagement, birthday, etc. Yes, the catch-phrase or password those days was 'party' and whenever teenagers or young adults met they would ask each other when and where the next party would be. I thanked God for my musical talent as the payment that we received though small helped me pay my school and exam fees.

Malim is now Datin Hajjah Malim (forgot her Muslim name), married to a successful businessman and veteran journalist Datuk Wahid Norbinsha. Maliana is also a Datin, married to Datuk Jahid Jahim, Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports cum Tamparuli Assemblyman. For the benefit of my non-Malaysian readers if any, a Datuk and Datin is something like Sir and Lady in Britain; though not neccasarily the same rank.

I am not sure how old the late Maah was. A few years my senior, he must have been around 60. But all I know is the people of Tamparuli will miss his jokes and antics. There was never a dull moment with him around in any function. Mind you, he was multi-lingual. Apart from his mother tongue of Dusun Lotud, he also spoke Malay, English and even a smattering of Hakka which always amused his Chinese friends. This was partly due to the fact that he actually grew up among the Chinese in Tamparuli town as his late brother Ugau operated a sundry shop. In short, he was a fun person to be with.

Maah became a Catholic before he died and personally chose the Christian name Moses. He must have been facinated by the Moses movie which we used to watch as kids at the Tamparuli cinema in the 1960s. The cinema, which was our only form of entertainment at night although it was in black and white and the place warm, noisy and dirty and they needed to change the film half-way, is now a supermarket, just like most cinemas elsewhere in Sabah.

May he rest in peace.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happiness is....(Part 2)

Happiness is....well, getting married; presumably to the one you love. (The father of the groom in his speech tonite reminded that we are no longer living in the age of forced or pre-arranged marriage like before.)

It's not me though who is getting married. Went through that in 1981. As they say, been there, done that.

I am talking about Simeon Sipaun and Rosni Maladu who were married at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Kota Kinabalu, the State Capital of Sabah this morning. My wife and I attended their reception at Putera Theatre Ballroom at Bukit Padang a few hours ago.

Simeon is the son of Mr Stephen Sipaun, a retired Kadazan senior civil servant from the Kivatu village in Penampang near Kota Kinabalu and Mdm. Betty Kondu.

Stephen, in turn, is the brother of former Sabah State Secretary (Tan Sri) Simon Sipaun. So needless to say, Simon who is now Vice-Chairman of the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), was among the hundreds of guests present tonite.

Rosni is the daughter of Mr Maladu Tovodso and Mdm. Mantiling Banjiran from the Rungus community in the Kudat area. A good mix which is in line with the 1Malaysia slogan. Or should I say 1Sabah or even 1Borneo?

Congratulations to Simeon and Rusni.

P/S: Which reminds me of my trip to Turkey in June. Our male Muslim Turkish guide was telling us that a Muslim man cannot marry more than one in Turkey. I then told him that in Malaysia, which is also an Islamic country like Turkey, a Muslim man can marry up to four; albeit with conditions. His reaction: "Tell me, tell me, how to migrate to Malaysia!"

(Footnote: No offence meant to my Muslim readers. The above is just meant to show how liberal we are in Malaysia. Mind you, a few Muslim Malaysian women actually started a Polygamy Club supporting their husbands marrying more than one! Looks like we better be ready for the influx of Muslim men from Turkey! They are, after all, tall and handsome plus with their mixed Bollywood/Arabic/Orang Putih good looks.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happiness is....(Part 1)

It suddenly dawn on me, recently, that in a few months' time I would be 56; even then it's assuming that God will allow me to live that long.

Much as I would like to live for as long as possible (for so long as I remain healthy that is), whether I like it or not I would not be around that much longer. After all, comparing human life to the clock, turning 56 would be just like the clock striking 5.30pm!

Which reminds me of the song 'Beyond The Sunset' which is one of the hymns frequently requested by family members of the deceased when our Prayer Group through the Benevolent Ministry pray for the dead either at the funeral parlour or at their home. But I will dwell more on this in a future post when I have the wordings (and hopefully the tune) ready.

Coming back to the original story, upon realising that I'm getting old (at least in the civil service sense as I will be retiring in less than 3 years' time) I've also become rather sentimental. So I decided to start a series of posts (hopefully once a week or at least fortnightly) based on the heading 'Happiness is....'.

So here is my first instalment. I took the above picture when I was having my breakfast in a Kepayan coffeeshop recently. As you can see, my hand was holding 'Yau Cha Kui' (my non-Chinese friends simply call it 'cha kui') and I was dipping it into my cup (or rather glass) of 'Kopi-O-Kau kurang manis'. As I'm turning 56, my memory is also beginning to fail me so that despite trying hard I can't remember what they call it (Cha Kui) in English. All I know is it should be called 'Fried (something)'. HELP! anyone?

Never mind what it is called in English, but what is more important is happiness is dipping my Cha Kui into my Kopi-O as we used to do during our childhood in the old-style coffeeshop back in my hometown Tamparuli in the 1960s; when even the tables, chairs, and cups were old-fashioned which you can't find nowadays.

I know most people would have their Cha Kui laced with either Kaya or Magerine/Butter or both (kahwin), but to me and my childhood friends, happiness is dipping your Cha Kui into the coffee before putting it into your mouth! While you still can, if I may add, as I turn 56 soon.