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Would not annoy and vex me so
By calling me names - "You ass!" "You fool!" -
Though I always try to keep cool.
My second that when I feel sick,
My friends will not do a mean trick
By saying that I really pretend -
And make it hard myself to defend.
My third that they'll not tell to me,
Those obvious things that I quite well see
As "The days are thirty-one in December -
And that I should always remember."
My fourth that when I achieve success,
They'll not say, "It's a fluke - he's useless!
And if they must say things so rude -
They might whisper them where none intrude!
On Sports Day - late at night.
Music floated through the air -
Boys were happy free from care -
On Sports Day.
Old boys there were in scores,
Standing in threes and fours;
Others dancing in and out
'Midst applause and shout -
On Sports Day.
The parents flocked together,
Enjoying the excellent weather;
They saw their sons take part.
And pride was in their heart -
On Sports Day.
The Masters visit every "tent" -
Friendly and on pleasure bent,
They join the merry throng
With cheers and song -
On Sports Day.
Those Childhood Days
My mind is on the lovely Yand,
Living once more those childhood days
That dawning manhood ne'er repays.
I wander over that well-known scene
Where in my youth I oft had been,
There stands my home, now old and worn,
Of memories sweet not yet forlorn.
There is the school by yonder spring,
Where I was taught to learn and sing,
And con my lessons - Oh, what pain! -
For fear of that relentless cane.
See! There's my master, cane in hand,
Wending his way along the sand.
His tongue is smooth, his head is gray,
He's idly busy all the day.
There flows that clear and winding stream,
Where I was wont to sport and dream.
Do only look - 'tis mirror'd there
The story of my childhood fair.
The Carven Lover
Beneath an orient sky;
The fragrance of a damask rose
About that blissful garden goes
And there at dusk-tide comes a maid
Clad in a garment white,
All chastely trimmed with silvery braid,
And to a marble are paid
Her vows of love's delight.
She clasps her carven lover cold
And whispers words of bliss:
His moonlit silence makes her bold,
And frenziedly her tale is told
With many a burning kiss.
"If thou should'st come to life, sweet stone,
And breathe my mortal breath,
If softest speech of silver tone
Should'st clothe the silence o'er thee thrown
And life spring out from death;
The gods that rule our destiny,
No greater gift could grant to me,
Than thy dear love - as mine must be
Ever and ever thine."
But silent are the muffled hills,
Silent her lover too;
Only a secret love-croon fills
That garden fair with bliss that kills,
Piercing her through and through.
In A Malay Kampong
We pass along a gravel road lined with shady trees, whose branches form a canopy overhead. A few yards away on either side of the road are fences of bamboo. Here is a small lane leading into the compound, in which grow many fruit trees. A crowd of children, dressed in the brightly coloured baju and sarong, are playing marbles. Look at this little fellow, with his pocket full of fruits, - he eats leisurely and watches his friends at play.
As we walk through the compound we are struck by the cleanliness of the place, and looking up we notice the branches of the trees weighed down by the burden of fruits. We now come in sight of the house itself. It is a typical Malay house with its slanting attap roof, its walls of plaited bamboo, and its short ladder which leads to the door.
Our host invites us to enter and after climbing the steps we find ourselves stepping into a small verandah. There is no ceiling - for that would spoil the charm of the place, and a gentle breeze comes through the windows making the room fresh and cool. Modern furniture and few photographs on the walls make up the contents, but our host tells us that, in former times, the house was devoid of these elaborate things. Mats cover the floors and everyone takes off his shoes and washes his legs before entering. Of course, everyone sits on the floor!
When it is suggested that we should look at the garden and pluck fruits we readily consent. Fruit trees of all kinds seem to flourish here. On either side are rows of mangosteen trees. The fruit looks unripe but our host climbs up a tree and very quickly sends down a dozen ripe ones. As I reach for one, I start back terrified by a yellow snake which is gliding slowly down the branch towards me. With stones we force it from the tree and a few blows with a stout stick render it lifeless. Some one suggests that a snake has nine lives, but our host grins broadly and replies "That is only a town belief." Tired of mangosteens we go towards the rambutans and with the help of a curved knife fastened on to the end of a long bamboo we have bunch after bunch falling at our feet.
We now stroll towards the far end of the compound and come to a wire fence covered yith green creepers. Peeping through we see another Malay house - like our host's, surrounded with fruit trees. As we were approaching we had heard voices in the compound but now we find the place deserted. The fair beings who had taken flight are, says our host, girls "on whom the eyes of strangers should not fall." Yet as we stand looking out we are conscious that at least two pairs of dark eyes are peering at us from behind that curtain!
Beggars! What an unsuitable subject you say for a school magazine; but this poor effort would never have materialised if it had not been for The Victorian.
The day was Sunday, and it must have been high noon, as the sun came running in yellow paths into my bedroom through the skylight of the window. It twinkled in the mirror on my dressing table and plastered the dull walls with a golden stain. From the streets below came the noise of passing cars and the rumbling of wheels of vegetable carts returning from the market, while the bells of a Church nearby pealed forth most noisily - perhaps to tell worshippers that they had had enough. But whatever might have been the motive of those infernal bells, it was really impossible to sleep another wink!
I jumped out of my bed and made my way to the window. I leaned against the windowsill and gazed down the street aimlessly. They say that at such times the devil always finds something for idle hands to do. He either did not spot me, or he was too busily occupied with the man manipulating the bells, I cannot say exactly. However, my attention was soon arrested by a group of beggars at a distance coming up the road. I inferred from the line of white dust which rose slantingly from the rail behind them that they must be shuffling along rather briskly.
As they drew nearer their speed began to slacken and when they were a few yards from my gate they were actually crawling and very unsteadily that. They halted outside my gate and from their gestures I gathered that they were deciding who should move on in order that one might be left behind to try his luck at my house. After a few seconds of heated discussion it was decided that "Tramp" (I shall call him "Tramp" for convenience's sake) was the most likely candidate.
My interest in beggars was aroused. I ran down the stairs and watched him from a corner, and had a good view of the successful candidate. "Tramp's" shoulders drooped, and from the uncertainty of his steps he appeared to be blind. His coat was a sight - in the last stage dilapidation - and his rimless straw hat looked like an oil funnel. His scanty black trousers displayed here and there those patches which bespeak very long service and his oversized shoes were mended in more than nine places as if to conceal his dirty socks which nevertheless were distinctly visible; while his coarse black hair escaped in neglected wisps from beneath the head gear. As for his face, it was thin and haggard! He looked the perfect beggar.
He was, however, of the conservative type. In his left hand he still held a coconut shell after the tradition of his fathers. In his right, he grasped a bamboo stick which undoubtedly had seen much service and had, judging from the marks left behind by the fangs of some ravenous dogs, proved itself a faithful companion. "Tramp" stood motionless for a minute, and hearing no noise he coughed several times.
Getting no response he began to look round - to my surprise, as I had thought that he was blind. Suddenly he began to groan as if he was suffering from some excruciating pain in the stomach. Finding that this plan, too, proved abortive he turned as if to go. However, like Bruce, he made another attempt and gave vent to three more loud groans. Without waiting to see the fruits of his labour he strode out of the gate in righteous wrath.
The peculiar actions of this beggar suggested to me many stratagems which these gentlemen of the road might adopt to make begging a successful profession. If one will only take the trouble to watch these beggars, one will soon find that some houses are not molested at all, while others are being plagued every Sunday by streams of them. I have no doubt that these parasites carry pocket guides with them, and we might expect to read some notes like this - "First on the right for ........." "A good meal here." "Beware of Mrů.'s dogs!"
In a certain country one of these gentlemen of the road is said actually to have compiled a pocket guide for beggars. One of his advertisements, which was written in pencil and pinned to a signpost, read, "Some men would die if they could not 'footslog' the highway, and it is to men of this type that I sell my little guide." In this guide, the novice is told where he can pitch a sob story without being driven into the gutter; where to try his luck; which house to avoid (I have no doubt by now that my house is down on the avoided list in the Beggars' Guide!); where to sleep, and so on. All houses are classed into groups such as good, promising on occasions, never known to be generous, to be avoided at all costs.
In another country in the East it is said that beggars have a trade union to which they all belong, and they have to pay taxes for the right to beg. It happened that a council found that its revenue was falling, and it decided to increase each beggar's tax from ten cents a week to fifteen. The Guild, through the head beggar, was notified of all this and the beggars went on strike. Visitors could roam about the place at peace; not a beggar could be seen anywhere; but the revenue quarter ceased.
A week passed, a month, two months. Things were getting worse. At last an official had to demean himself, approach the head beggar in his filthy hovel and seek an explanation. It was readily given. "Go back to the old tax and the beggars will agree to beg; otherwise they will remain at rest." Next day, the place was full of beggars and with a little added, persistence they soon made up for the two months enforced rest. All beggars, however, seem to have the same motto, and that is, "Anything but work!"
A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing
Generally speaking, men can be classified into three distinct groups - men who know much, men who know little, and men who know practically nothing. It is not the first group of men who give the most trouble to the world; neither is it the third. A man who knows much sees far beyond the common man, both in regard to the affairs of private individuals and those of the community, and his very motive and actions are therefore harmless and without guilt, or beneficial and constructive; while a man who knows practically nothing has always a contented disposition, earning with difficulty his daily bread and contented with his hard-gained, though small, competence.
But where trouble lies is in the man who knows little. Being always presumptuous and dogmatic and thinking that he really knows much, he discredits those superior to and above him, while, on the contrary, those who are his inferiors (I mean those who know practically nothing) are but taken by him to be insignificant and lowbred.
The man who knows much has always the ability and knowledge to discern between right and wrong. In political, social or communal affairs we discover, in most cases, that he is the one who leads and the one who desires no trouble and agitation. He will do his utmost to stop any commotion, however small it may be.
On the other hand, we have the man who knows practice nothing - a man who is contented with his own position, having no desire to outrun his comrades or to meditate by what device he may show himself to the world. He confesses that he is a man without knowledge and thinks that it is his duty to obey and not to command.
The man who knows a little is very different. His stubbornness and stupidity are the chief reasons for his being an agitator to the human race. It is he, with the little knowledge that he possesses, who denies the fact that the earth is round in the pursuit after geographical truths, and proclaims that the earth is really flat. It is he, with no real foundation of military and civil knowledge, who brings about unrest and discontent among the Chinese people and causes the prolongation present civil war. The Pharisees in the New Testament are upbraided by Christ, not so much because of their faithlessness, but because of their despicable hypocrisy. Solomon, in spite of his acknowledged wisdom, proved his folly by his extravagance and his belief in foreign gods, thereby bringing about the discontent of his people, and consequently the destruction of Jerusalem.
Nanmeng is a youth of seventeen, full of passions and deep emotions. Living in the tropical belt, where the heat of the scorching sun ripens the fruits very quickly, he has long reached the age of maturity. His tall and slender figure, his youthful face accompanied by an ever smiling composure, and his friendly manner of conversation - all these indicate that he has come to realise the real behaviour of a gentleman. His little home is situated in the centre of the busy town of Kuala Lumpur, where he has a fairly large circle of friends and schoolmates. Returning home every afternoon from school, he enjoys the pleasures and happiness of the company of his loving sister and brothers.
His affection for his brothers seems ever to increase, although he seldom speaks to them owing to the great amount of work he does. Every time his youngest brother approaches him at his writing table, he says softly, though solemnly, "Nay, brother, you shouldn't disturb me when I am at work." And the boy goes away rather reluctantly to his dolls with his little face full of disappointment.
His sister would be sitting in one of the armchairs, carefully stitching a large crimson rose for her pillow. At times she would suddenly stop, and with her yellow comb would comb into position her soft and brownish hair which was constantly falling over her forehead. At times she would hold her stitching cloth at arm's length and, pulling back her body, would try to see if her work was successful; and would then turn round to Nanmeng and say smilingly, "Brother, please tell me if my rose is, indeed, lifelike."
The house in which Nanmeng lives is situated in noisy surroundings. Yelling hawkers in front and the noise caused by the banging of Chinese musical instruments behind would have sufficed to throw him into a pensive mood. Add to this the noise caused by the heavy traffic around, and one can imagine the noise Nanmeng hears every day. When his daily work is over, Nanmeng would then fall into a deep retrospection.
He is now lacking the love and tender care of his beloved mother - love which, to a youth like him, seemed indispensable. Looking deep into the dark abysm of time he gets a faint recollection of his early childhood when the tender words and soft kisses of his mother always bestowed on him childish pleasures and consolation - yes, consolation which makes him yearn for the past.
His mother was a woman of poor descent, virtuous, loving and passionate. Her tender eyes, her well-cut nose, and her soft lips made her appearance noble and generous. After having given birth to Nanmeng and his brothers, her whole care in this world was to look after her beloved children, taking extreme pains to give them what moral lessons she could when they were small, and taking great care of their health.
Nanmeng still remembers his mother weeping beside him when was seriously attacked by malaria about five years ago. Oh! The then weary complexion of that dear lady had left an ineffaceable impression in his mind.
Yes, the love and tender care of his beloved mother had now gone! Her bones are now probably dried up under her tombstone. Nanmeng is now but a little lamb deprived of its mother. Although surrounded with friends, he is as melancholy as a man left alone in a desert. It is true that "a crowd is not company, and faces are but galleries of pictures, and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love." And the only thing he thinks he can do now is to follow the steps of Lord Byron - romance and revolution.
There is, on the east coast of the Malaiy Peninsula in the district of Kuantan, Pahang, a small fishing village, Beserah by name - an out-of-the-way place, it is true, but beautiful and salutary as a health resort. No traveller who has been in Pahang can boast that he has seen all there is to be seen until he has visited Beserah.
Sandy beaches are, of course, the special characteristic of the east coast, and Beserah has a fine expanse of sand. Situated on a bay between the rocky capes of Tembeling on the north and Gelang on the south, it is a convenient shelter for steamers during stormy weather. The river which drains the hilly parts of the interior is very shallow and in its zig-zag course passes through one corner of the small town and divides the Kampong in two. Coconut palms and rubber trees are cultivated in the neighbourhood, but it is owing to the fishing industry that the place is so interesting and so busy.
As Beserah is only five miles from Kuantan, which is the chief town in the district, there is no need for the Government to have an army of officials to look after the inhabitants. The only officials are those directly responsible for the collection of customs duties, a small band of policemen and a sanitary officer. There is a Customs House, a Police Station, a Rest House, a Penghulu's Court and a Vernacular School. In the streets are many Chinese and Indian shop-houses; and in the Kampong which is close to the town are the Malay attap houses. They are made wholly of attap, or with walls of planks, and stand on wooden supports. All these houses are built very near to each other, and there is a danger of the whole village being burnt down if one of them catches fire.
In the morning the village presents a lively scene. The Chinese are busy drying fish and the Malay fishermen with their wives and children are mending their nets or preparing their fishing lines. Others may be mending their boats or building new ones, while the fishermen who went out last night are still out at sea and will not return until the afternoon. Early morning is also a favourite time for bathing and groups of people are to be seen enjoying themselves in the sea.
At noon all is quiet. The sun is intensely hot and has driven shopkeepers and fishermen indoors where we may find them fast asleep. Only the splashing of the breakers on the shore is to be heard. But with the approach of evening the voices of the Chinese fishmongers and the cries of children drown the roar of the sea. Away in the distance can be seen the white sails of the returning fleet of fishing boats, and as they approach we can pick out different boats and recognise some of the men themselves.
Then come the larger vessels that use nets of various kinds for catching the fish, and here are the smaller boats manned by only two or three men who use lines and hooks. On the beach the wives and children of the fishermen flock together near the water's edge, and dealers and the older children go out in small boats, or even swim, to meet the approaching fleet. Flags of various colours now appear on some of the vessels and it is easy to see from the faces of those on land that these are signals to show the size of the day's haul. A good catch is greeted with shouts of joy and the children jump about to show their delight. The fishermen themselves sing as they carry their heavy nets on to the sand to dry and push their boats up the beach. It is the end of another venture; and success has crowned their efforts.
Since the completion of the road connecting Beserah and Kuantan, most of the fish caught in Beserah is taken to the market in Kuantan. Much dried fish is also sent to Kuantan to be forwarded to Singapore, though once a week a steamer calls at Beserah and takes on cargo to Singapore direct.
Musing on Petaling Hill
I was standing on the top of Petaling Hill gazing at the crimson glow in the west. A few minutes earlier the sun was lighting up the hillside with glorious rays of gold. Then suddenly the sun set, leaving a streak of crimson in its wake. Slowly the darkness spread and the brilliant colours faded out.
I turned my eyes towards the gaunt iron girders which stood erect and bare. Borne upon the winds there came a voice that whispered "Hark! On yonder mould the torch of learning will keep burning, and illumine the darkness around. On yonder mould will congregate youths from all Malaya. From yonder mould will arise citizens of the Empire. Let sound knowledge flourish there."
Abruptly the voice died away and awakening from my reverie, I discovered that darkness had enveloped all.
A Visit to the Victoria Institution
[Though this visit is manifestly imaginary, the description of the buildings is authentic, the necessary details being very kindly supplied by the architects, Messrs. Swan and Maclaren -Ed, Victorian, 1927.]
Three years had passed since my departure from Malaya, and it was with a strange mixture of emotions that I set out for Petaling Hill to pay my first visit to the completed school. Before I had left, mounds of reddish earth, gaunt steel uprights, piles of bricks and tiles and the thousand and one things that mark the presence of the builder were alone to be seen. In the old days, one might, from these disjointed parts, have constructed the whole - in imagination, but now I was to face the reality - the school at work.
I chose to approach from Hose Road in the hope that I might come suddenly in view of' the buildings and the playing fields; and I was fully rewarded. Three years ago, the builders seemed to be all-powerful, doing what they pleased, but now their handiwork stood triumphant on the crest of the hill, and the school, even from this distance, seemed to assert its possession of the ground beneath and around and its control over all within its walls. There stood the long two-storied main building with its lofty central clock-tower and immediately in front, but on a lower level, the Sports Pavilion which linked the sterner business of the form-room with the pleasures of the playing-fields that stretched as far as the public road. The south wing, on my left, was visible, giving that impression of depth which so long a front demanded.
I bade the syce go on, and in a few moments we turned off Gaol Road and began the gradual ascent towards the main porch along the drive flanked by young casuarina trees. Pausing to observe the grounds more closely, I noticed that there was ample space for football and cricket, hockey, tennis and badminton, and on the right I saw what appeared to a miniature rifle-range - so that request had at last been granted! We proceeded and I was just able to see the central and central and northern wings before the car turned to the left and, drew up beneath the porch. A glance at the Foundation Stone brought back memories of the day on which it was laid, and looking at the building and at the playing-fields, I thought of old school near the river and the good fortune of the present boys.
Passing through the wide verandah I entered the entrance hall - a lofty room made the more dignified by four massive pillars which support clock tower. After a moment's pause, I heard footsteps on the stone staircases situated on the right and left of the large folding doors that faced me and led, I supposed, to the central wing. The Headmaster appeared, and after a brief conversation we began the tour of inspection.
Choosing the front verandah on the left of the porch, we passed on our right hand four form-rooms and came to the Cadet Corps store and armoury, which occupied the corner position. The southern wing, which we then visited, consisted of four more form-rooms separated into two groups by a staircase leading to the floor above. Returning along the near verandah of the main building we crossed the entrance hall and proceeded past two form-rooms, the spacious Geography room and the book shop. This completed our inspection of the main building on the ground floor, and the northern wing, devoted to physics, was next examined. Here I was shown the lecture room and laboratory apparatus rooms and a dark room for photographic work.
Before going upstairs we visited the hall which occupies the major portion of the central wing. From the entrance we passed through the folding doors, that I noticed on my arrival, into a spacious, lofty and well-lighted hall that must be the pride of the school. Above our heads as we stood on the threshold was a wide gallery, on the walls to the right and left hung the dark oak honour boards and in front was the stage. We proceeded along the central gangway and mounted the stage, where numerous devices ensuring suitable scenic effects were to be seen. There was an orchestral well immediately in front, fittings for a screen to be used with the projection room situated in the clock-tower behind the gallery were provided, and behind were large dressing-rooms and a basement for stores. After a brief examination of these rooms we passed into a shelter for bicycles which which separated the back of the stage from the single storied woodwork room. Work was in progress and a large class of boys was busy at the benches.
Returning through the hall and passing up the staircase we reached the upper floor. The boys' library lay before us immediately above the entrance hall, and passing through it we reached an open balcony which gives a delightful view of the school grounds and the country beyond. We then moved along the southern half the of the front visiting the store, the senior and junior common rooms, one form-room and the school prefects' room, situated in the corner. The southern wing did not occupy our attention for very long as the four form-rooms of which it consists correspond with those on the ground floor.
A visit was then paid to the northern half of the main building comprising the office, records' room, Headmaster's study, art room and the house prefects' room, - this last holding a similar position to that of the school prefects on the other wing. Turning to the left we passed through the northern wing equipped for the study of chemistry and consisting of a lecture room, laboratory and storerooms, with, at its western end, a medical inspection room. A further glance at the hall - this time from the gallery - concluded my inspection of the school itself, and we proceeded down the staircase and across the drive to the pavilion. A flight of steps led down from the terrace to the ground-floor rooms which were on a level with the playing-fields. Here I found a tiffin room and store in addition to the pavilion proper which was decorated with sports trophies and house shields. On the first floor were dressing-rooms fitted with baths and showers, and above was a flat roof which I could readily imagine to be an excellent position for watching the various athletic activities.
I had finished, and as I stood near the porch expressing my thanks to the Headmaster for accompanying me around the school, the 11 o'clock bell rang. Boys streamed out of their rooms and across to the tiffin room. Amid these changed surroundings that old institution had lost none of its popularity. I was glad of that and drove away.
The word 'friendship' is very often misunderstood, for people are apt to regard acquaintances as friends. Friendship is 'intimacy resting on mutual esteem.' True friendship can exist between a dog or other animal and its master as well as between human beings.
The friendless man stands alone, exposed without protection from his enemies, but the man who has loyal friends is provided with a strong defence against the worst misfortunes. Friends cannot be found in a day; they are the result of long periods of acquaintance. False friends are dangerous, pretending in your presence to be friendly but behind your back behaving very differently. They are the people who pride themselves on their ancestors but, like the potato plant, all that is good of them is underground. They fly about like bees from one friend to another, taking the honey from each. They are like fowls - if you chase them, they will run away, but if you ignore them, they will come clucking to your feet. The cautious will never allow such people the privilege of their friendship.
Loyal friendship is more valuable than wealth. A true friend increases one's happiness and diminishes one's sorrow. Such a friend should be guarded like a jewel. Once such a friendship is broken, like a China bowl, it can never be made whole again; however much one tries to repair what is broken, the cracks will always be visible. Adversity tests friendship. The man who really deserves the name of friend will not disappear, but will support and encourage when support and encouragement are needed most. Selfishness makes friendship impossible. A friend must always be ready to pardon; he must never be more critical towards others than he would have them be towards himself.
About seven and a half miles from Kuala Lumpur are to be found the Batu Caves. Here the Indians pay a yearly visit to perform their religious ceremonies, and from here begin their religious processions. There are quarries, too, from which large quantities of stone are taken for the construction of roads. However, it is of another subject that I wish to speak - of the ancient history of Batu Caves told me by an old man.
It appears that once upon a time there lived in Malaya a poor old man and his wife. They obtained their livelihood with difficulty and their only son, Si Tunggang, helped to search for fruits in the jungle. One day, Si Tunggang asked his parents if he might go into the world to try his fortune, and permission was given him. He sailed away from his own country to another land where he obtained employment under a farmer. Being industrious, he prospered and soon proved to be a wealthy merchant. He used to sail from one country to another buying and selling goods, until at last he reached a country where, meeting the King's daughter, he married her. After staying there for some time he set sail for his own home with his beautiful wife.
The news of the coming of Si Tunggang and his wife and the news of his great wealth spread far and wide until it reached his parents' ears. They were delighted, and when the ship approached the shore, the mother and and father set out to meet their son, taking with them a piece of baked meat as a present. (The old man told me it was the thigh of monkey.) They went on board and were shown by the sailors where Si Tunggang was seated. A few minutes later these two old people came on shore, with tears running down their cheeks. Their son, ashamed to call them his parents before his wife, had pitilessly kicked them away swearing that they were not his parents and bidding his men drive them away.
Sorrowfully, they walked away nor did they turn their heads once to look back at the ship. The old mother called for Sang Kelembai who was a spirit able to transform human beings into rocks and their hair into bushes and trees through her mysterious power. At once the parents disappeared and two trees towered in their place, one with a sour fruit bending towards the shore representing the father and the other with a sweet fruit bending towards the sea representing the pitiful mother. At same moment Si Tunggang and all his men together with the ship were changed into rocks - the ship becoming the highest cave.
My old friend said that many believe this legend and say that long ago several apartments could be seen, in one of which were several women sitting before a lady - the wife of Si Tunggang. Now, however, the caves are quite dark, the floor is covered with moss and dirt, and no signs of this sad story remain.
The Tenth of October
Eagerly, I rose from my bed on the tenth of October and ran to look out. I saw the eastern sky flushed with crimson and the sun was slowly rising in all its splendour. The sky was clear and bright and all gave promise of a glorious day. I looked at the streets and at the roofs of buildings far away, and everywhere I saw the National Flag flying.
All the people living in my neighbourhood had got up early and were busy decorating their houses and themselves, while the gong in the Chinese Temple nearby was sounding and the Priests were offering prayers to heaven. Little children were running about the streets dressed in their best clothes. Men stayed at home and feasted, for all the Chinese shops were closed.
Watching all these sights, I had entirely, forgotten that I had to go to school - and face a History Test as well! 'I'ime was flying. If I arrived at school late I should be sent to the Detention Class. So, after dressing and eating my breakfast which was of a special kind, I hurried to school.
I was naturally excited the whole morning and I won't tell you how I fared in the History Test! As soon as the school bell rang at one o'clock, I gathered together a few books and was soon pedalling homewards - to partake of a delicious dinner. The rest of the afternoon, I helped in preparing a decorated motor lorry for the procession.
At half-past five, decked in my best clothes and taking a prominent seat in a car, I went round the town with my friends and relations. The streets were unusually crowded. There were processions of cars going round and round the town, and pedestrians thronged the streets. The sun had set and as we entered the town on our way home it was already dark.
Night added a charm to the scenes in the streets, for the lighted thoroughfares throbbing with traffic and the crowds showed clearly that gaiety was in the air. At half-past seven the Lantern Procession which was the final feature of the celebrations started from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. It was a wonderful sight to see the little boys and girls marching with lanterns or flags. Though the Dragon Display was missing, this year's procession was a great success. A full moon was shining from the clear sky, while through the main streets of the town the lantern procession wound its way like a dragon.
The end came all too soon. Before midnight the candles had burnt out and the bunting was torn down. Tired but happy, men, women and children returned to their homes to sleep, but not to forget.
Last update on 23 October 2000.
Contributed by: Chung Chee Min
PageKeeper: Ooi Boon Kheng