Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Came across this article "Dear Ah Mah and her old house" in last Sunday's Star. Worth sharing here. A good reminder of what life was like in the old days, growing up in the countryside.

I was born in Batu Pahat, Johor in 1948. Till I left my hometown to study Form 6 at English College in Johor Bahru in 1965-66, my home was a two-storey shophouse along the main road Jalan Rahmat. Downstairs were two shoplets. The front portion was rented out to my dear Aunt Bertha, a seamstress. The back portion was a beauty parlor cum hair salon which my mother owned. She hired two trained hair stylists and several shampoo girls. My siblings and I lived on the upper floor.

I spent much of my after-school hours with these shampoo girls in my mother's employ. They stayed in the shophouse on weekdays and returned to their family home on Sundays. Home for one of these girls was a small farm in Kampung Sri Gading on the outskirts of Batu Pahat. Her parents were farmers who reared poultry and pigs, and grew vegetables and fruits to supplement their meager income.

Some of the best recollections from my primary and high school days were visits to the farm. As I was the 'boss' daughter, I was always given a VIP reception which often included a home-cooked lunch with fresh produce from the farm. The farmhouse was a testimony of how simple folks lived in those days.

Furniture was functional and basic. Beds were raised wooden platforms with a mengkuang mat doubling up as mattress. Long curtains replaced doors for the bedrooms. The floor was bare earth, and uneven in most places. The toilet was a makeshift shed away from the farmhouse. There was a bucket to collect all excrement and urine to be used as fertilizers.

Ah Ma's outhouse toilet

To me, this lack of amenities didn't matter compared to the fun I had. It was an adventure feeding the chickens and pigs, watering the vegetables and climbing up fruits trees. It is a pity that I no longer have any photos of those visits to the farm. The photos above are picture-grabs from The Star article. They give a good idea of what simple living was all about in those days. Do read the article.

I believe such houses still exist in the small towns and villages in Malaysia. But with the passing of time and with the young people leaving for the cities to further their studies or seek employment, these villages will one day disappear. It is a matter of time before housing developers descend with their big machines to mow down the last visage of an idyllic and rustic lifestyle and replace it with a vista of concrete jungle teeming with high-rise condominiums sprouting fancy names that are meant to invoke eco-friendly, country living. What an irony!

1 comment:

chez1978 said...

Didn't realize you went to EC for Form 6. Super senior!