Everytime the school needed money to build an extra block or renovate the surau, we were forced to seek for donations.
Being the enthusiastic 9-year-old that I was, my friend and I literally walked house-to-house asking for money, under the hot sun! I don't remember how much we managed to collect, but not much even after all the hard work!
Then, I came to school and saw other friends collected more money than I did. Some of my friends even received special letters from the teachers. I wondered why I wasn't chosen to get the letters. Later, I found out, the chosen students were the rich ones. The school 'personally' asked their parents to donate a large amount of money for the school.
One of my friend's parents decided they wouldn't donate money for the school, instead, they donated a blueprint for the surau.
Although I was not rich, and most of my friends were, it never bothers me much.
I lived in a terrace house, and boy, was I in love with that house and the neighbourhood.
Everybody knew everybody, everybody knew everybody's extended families.
- my neighbours knew my aunties and uncles, and when they came for a visit and we weren't home at that time, my neighbours would offer them their houses for them to wait for us.
- most of our neighbours came from Johor and Selangor. When we balik kampung, we would stop at my neighbours' kampungs.
- when my aunties and uncles came for a visit, they would pay a visit to our neighbours too and vice versa.
Such a happy neighbourhood.
I remember, we kept the Raya spirit alive by visiting each other in large groups just like the scene in a kampung. The husbands and the wives and the children walked from one house to another and talked and laughed. The children were usually left upstairs to play. If they were still fireworks left, we would go outside to light them up.
Most of my friends from school lived nearby. Raya was the time to go to their houses and collected money from their parents. It was pretty safe during those times, my parents were never worried. All Mother cared was how I could stay under the sun for so long and darkened my skin on purpose.
Although we lived in the city, we had our 'mengaji' sessions at a neighbour's house. I miss the pulut kuning. All mothers in the neighbourhood were good cook, so, we always exchanged kuih muih during tea time.
My neighbours and I were really close. When we were playing at the playground, and one of their mothers wanted to go to the pasar malam, she would take all of us there too. I didn't have to ask permissions from my parents. They usually asked around and found out we all went to the pasar malam with neighbour number 1.
And when it was Maghrib, all mothers in the neighbour should shout is: Doraemon sudah start!!!
We would race with each other to see who arrived first to watch Doraemon.
On weekends, my sister and I would go to my neighbour's house to play from morning to evening, we even had lunches at my neighbour's house. Your house is my house!
I remember my friend's mother made carrot juice for her because she started to have blurry vision. She hated the juice and in the end, I finished it for her. She has the biggest Barbie doll house and her brother who is the same age as mine would join our 'masak-masak'.
Once he said, "Pepet macam mulut ikan kan?" and since then, he reffered vaginas as ikan.
When we got sick of playing in the house, we would go to the hill and from there, we would explore the neighbourhood. There is a big, old tree on the hill, we used to pretend it was a house. Sometimes, we went to buy sweets at the kedai runcit and give candies to the winners of the football matches. Kecik-kecik dah gatal...
In the evening, the nenek next to my house would cut the sugarcane fresh from the trees and we would suck the sweetness away.
Sometimes, the bai roti or the ice cream man competed with each other for customers: us, the children.
I spent most of my life in that neighbourhood. We then moved to a bigger house which I don't really like. We don't know anybody, they are not very friendly, everything looks so foreign, I don't belong there. It shouldn't bother me much, because I no longer live with my parents.
I hope, someday I will live in that kind of neighbourhood in the future, for my children.
10 hours ago