Tuesday, May 25, 2010

No. 1 Jalan Pegawai, Alor Setar, Kedah

According to my mother, the house above is as old as I am. The foundation to the house was laid on the same day I was born. The house still stands to this day but  no one has been living there since the 90's. I have a lot of fond childhood memories associated with the house. The last occupants of the house were the girls from Maktab Mahmud Kolej, about a kilometer away. The college rented the house and turned it into a hostel for their girl students. I did not grow up in the house but every school holidays and Hari Raya would see my parents heading back to that house, with me in tow, of course. The house belonged to my late grandfather, my mother's father. The house was the biggest along that stretch of road those days and it boasted of an impressive address as well ......No. 1, Jalan Pegawai, Alor Setar, Kedah.
No. 1 at 30 years old
Being an only child, I was more shy and timid than spoilt, I think. I would follow mum everywhere like a shadow. Mum was an active W.I.(Women's Institute) member those days and I would tag along and sat at all the meetings she attended with her fellow members. I was the only child member albeit a passive one. I would sit prim and proper throughout the entire meeting. Any misbehaviour would spell disaster  when I got home. Mum was a tough disciplinarian. The cane was her tool in shaping me into what I am today.....I guess. Being extremely shy and timid, I had very few friends. I preferred staying home playing with my dolls than running around outside with the other girls and boys my age. A bit of a weirdo, may be.

Mum and me

Mum (centre, with glasses) at one of her W.I. meetings
However, my true colours were unveiled the moment I set foot in the big house. Besides my grandparents and a few uncles and aunties who were not married yet at the time, my cousin Fushia and her mother were also staying there. Fushia was my best friend, still is now. Fushia was the direct opposite of me, she was an outdoor girl in every sense of the word. She was the one who taught me how to climb trees, fly kites, fish, paddle a mini sampan among other things. 
Fushia (left) and I perched on top of a jambu tree

We would run around barefooted in the vast compound under the hot sun, much to the horror of my mother. My aunty, Fushia's mother, was apparently quite used to her daughter's antics. Our adventures were not restricted within the compound of the house only. Fushia would take me out on a cross country across padi fields without our mothers' knowledge and stopped at a dilapidated nyonya shop to buy ais kepal.(shaved ice shaped into a ball and sweetened with red and brown syrup). We would then slowly trace our way back home slurping the ais kepal as we trod along. Fushia was an adept slurper, but I encountered problems the moment the ais was put into my  hands. My palms felt numb with cold, 
(Fushia was not the slightest bit bothered by this) and the ice melted and trickled down my elbows soiling my dress. I remember crying out to Fushia for help and she came to my rescue like a good samaritan. To solve the problem, she handed her "dry" ice ball to me and took mine(which was still red and sugar-laden as compared to her almost white, already sugar-free) to dry it off!!!!!! I think she was quite genuine in her gesture. There were no ulterior motives of any kind, not between 5 year olds of yesteryear. I remember asking her why her ice ball was tasteless to which she murmured something incoherent being engrossed in slurping dry the melting ice ball. Anyway, by the time we reached the big house, the ice balls were gone. There was no clue left as to where we had disappeared for almost an hour save for my soiled dress.  

I am on the extreme right with Fushia next to me and all the other cousins 20 years ago.


  1. Siti,

    ,,,suggest that you turn the old house into a B&B homestay for travelers ?...interesting way of meeting new friends and earn the extra cash for your dream car-lah...its easy, if i can do it on an island, you also can do it in Kedah dry land-lah.
    ,,,just make sure the toilet is modern sitting type hehehe...a bit of touch up repainting/repair whatsoever...walla you are ready...eeerrmm some landscaping and gardening exercise too hehehe...you hubby can hit his golf balls around the house while waiting for his buddies ?. How is his book getting on ?

  2. Capt.,
    Hold on there. The house does not belong to me. The owner now is my uncle who has plans of restoring it to its former glory before moving in there himself. Well, at least I can visit lah. Hubby punyalah sibuk dengan buku dia. Orang ada buku, dia pun nak buat buku juga. Hehehe.

  3. omigod.. those pics are historic! look at your mum's spectacles, macam dalam cerita p ramlee! and that last pic, you look gorgeous in the red dress :-)
    by the way, what did they do in WI? fight for independence?

  4. Dieya,
    Thanks for the compliments. Frankly, I don't know what they did in WI. I think it was the equivalent of Puspanita today. I don't think fighting for the independance was in their agenda.

  5. hi Siti,

    ,,,o.k. but get your uncle to open the place as an homestay ?. He can generate tons of cash since many of us would prefer homestay as compared to hotel nowadays-lah. Bila i balik Kedah, frust tak dapat tinggal in a proper home with that homely feeling. Such the suggestion for your uncle to seriously consider since he and his family can still stay there in their house too.
    ,,,just charge rm30 to rm50 for B&B service or rent out the rooms for rm75/- to rm120 for family stay. There is a big market for such service-lah.

  6. Capt.,
    Shall relay the message over to uncle. Seems like a good idea to me.

  7. Hi Pn. Siti Roffini
    That lovely house sure looks sturdy. With a new coating and probably some minor renovations, it will surely be the envy of many. How can we get a house like that nowadays. So well built! The builder must have used the best hard wood available and the finest building materials found in the country at that time. Salam bahagia.

  8. Cikgu Temuk,
    According to my mother, the wood is Chengal Emas. I thought there's only Chengal, never heard of Chengal Emas!!! Salam.

  9. Siti,

    ,,,chengal ada a few species. chengal bukit, chengal kampung, chengal emas or cuning but the chengal bukit is best for boat building. Its very hardy as it aged after being chopped down and normally very very old, you count its rings for the age, take those with more than 120 rings i.e. 120 years old or older.

  10. auntie, rumah ni dha teruk sgt keadaannya sekarang..terbiar..sedih tgk..huhu~

  11. Namie Amir,
    Rumah ini bukan dah teruk sangat tapi dah tiada lagi pun. Rumah telah diroboh untuk memberi laluan kepada bangunan baru.

  12. assalamualaikum auntie, mohon join group gambaq lama aloq setaq http://www.facebook.com/groups/114489835253451

    ada banyak gambaq lama kenangan aloq setaq