Reading Pak Cha's childhood antics of long, long time ago on his blog Nginap Srengenge reminds me of my own childhood days in Kampong Kepayang, Ipoh.
Kampung Kepayang is a traditional kampong right smack in the middle of Ipoh city. It is a gazetted Malay Reserve Area surrounded by ever-encroaching urban development on its peripheries. The kampung is bounded on its west by the KTM railway line which runs all the way to Buterworth in the north, and Singapore down south.
To the north is the Tasek Industrial Estate (famous for producing, among others, the Tasek Cement) as well as the North South Highway which links Ipoh to Kuala Kangsar and farther beyond.
To the south is the Ipoh town proper -- the Ipoh Anderson School and Cator Avenue school compounds and Fair Park, to be exact.
The kampung has not changed much since my childhood days.
Its area size has not grown bigger. On the contrary modern housing schemes are forever knocking on its door, so to speak. The total number of population seems to have stagnated, too.
Those days it used to have a lot of dusun buah-buahan (fruit orchards) with durian, rambutan, nangka and cempedak trees.
One of those dusun belonged to my Nyang (my grandmother's father). It was located in a lembah (valley) close to the Kinta River. The dusun had a neat dangau for us to sit when enjoying our durians. The dangau also provided a very comfortable and cooling resting area whilst waiting for the durians to fall from the trees around us.
The dusun is still there. But the dangau is no more. The big durian trees still stand tall. But one could tell that they are well past their 'service life' and not producing fruit anymore.
The woods around the kampung were our playground. My brothers and I used to spend hours in there looking for "fighting-spider", cutting down rattan plants, searching for woods to make hockey sticks, catapults and so on.
Sometimes we'd get a sting or two, or bruises here and there. But the lure of the kampung surroundings was too great for us to resist.
Putik durian Kampong Kepayang
I remember once during one of my outdoor excursions a black snake slithered and crossed the path right in front of me. I froze. And the snake did enough to make me retreat (ok, actually I dashed home in panic) and promised myself not to wander too far away from home next time.
But of course I broke my own promise! Ha, ha.
Boys will be boys. What's more, any kampung boy worth his salt is not going to be intimidated by the mere sight of one Mr. Snake, is he?
You know, sometimes I feel sorry for my own kids for not being able to do and enjoy what I did and enjoyed. The freedom to roam all over the kampung. To stay out and play in the rain when there is a downpour. To wander in and out of the woods at will.
Perhaps I am partly to be blamed for this too. Over-protectiveness. Yes, that's the problem with us parents nowadays. For example, a light pitter patter of the rain drops would hear parents hollering all their kids to "masuk rumah, hari nak hujan!".
But then again, I wonder if my kids would be interested at all in all those things we used to enjoy. By the look of it, they are more into computer games, internet (mySpace, friendster etc.), television (Astro), music (mp3 players) and going on an outing to downtown KL with friends to catch the movies or merely time-wasting window shopping .
*Sigh* how times have changed.