I am Kuala Lumpur born and bred through and through. Regardless of this city's charms and shortfalls, I just get on with it so I can make something from whatever it is that I like or dislike about KL.
WHEN I was a child, I sold tapai. I stayed in Kampung Datuk Keramat after my folks moved from Kampung Baru. I was born in Kampung Baru... No. 20, Perkins Road. Now, Perkins Road is known as Jalan Raja Alang. The house itself was demolished by certain people because well, everyone needs to make a living. I sold tapai to get through school. Tapai was 5 sen per serving back then, now its RM1.50. What can you do, times change.
BACK in the 1960s, for Malays, the place to be on a Saturday night was the night market. The first night market I remember was in Jalan Raja Alang , near the 'jambatan gesel'. Anyone from Kampung Baru will know what I'm talking about. Why is it called 'jambatan gesel'? Because the bridge was so narrow, folks would be forced to jostle to get through. Some would get groped, some would get pushed... some even screamed, and that is why it was called 'jambatan gesel'.
ACTUALLY, KL never promised anything to anyone. It's us who must promise; what to make of ourselves when we get here. That's what it is. Kuala Lumpur is just a platform for us to stand, to run, perhaps to snatch. Now, snatch could mean anything. If I say snatch, you think snatch thief. Not necessarily. You can also 'snatch' one's feelings.
I like roaming the city streets alone, because I'm an observer of human behaviour. I study acting. Everyone knows my theatre background. When I see someone reading on the bus, makes me wonder: Must there be a book in one's hands to read? For me, seeing and listening are just like reading. I like observing people's attitude. I study all this....not for anything in particular, just for myself. Everyone knows I'm unkempt. I've always been like this. Snobbish when I'm poor, and when I'm rich, I'm cocky.
STUDYING human behaviour, I've learnt many things. What's it that the Anglos say? Attitude? This is where their true characters came out. But we shouldn't judge people, because that's just how people are wired. But we can benefit from studying this, as reference for acting...like me.
SOMETIMES we wait for something, but something else comes. That is how I got the inspiration for this prose: "Kuala Lumpur, within your chest flows a river carrying mud to the estuary." Think about that for a minute, and you'll understand. Kuala Lumpur makes no promises... it carries 'mud'... debris, detritus, nothing of value. That's according to my understanding of it anyway, based on my level of education. Luckily I have learned friends who are not stingy with their knowledge, those with whom we could have a chat, over coffee at the stall.
KUALA LUMPUR to me, is a lecture hall of sorts... a kind of private lecture. I listen to what people say, I note it down, as proof to myself.
13 May 1969 was an unforgettable experience. I was 12. I was selling tapai in Chow Kit Market. I didn't know what was going on. People were running everywhere, chasing after each other. What was going on? We just laughed. We just smiled. But my mother was actually worried sick in Keramat. But we didn't know this. We were just kids. We laughed at these people running after one another... Seemed like a circus. Only later that night did we learn it was a racial riot sparked by politics.
I'M not into politics. When I go in, I prefer doing it alone. Those who understand me, will understand.
A LOT is lost in KL. If I say too much, it will become a sensitive issue. Too much. Too much has gone. And those responsible aren't strangers. Think for yourself. Our fathers built houses to shelter their children. Among the many children, not all are good, some are not good. And once the old man passes, they quarrel with each other over a small piece of land.
WHO are we to advise people? People will ask me, "Brother, don't you want to direct a film or drama?" I answer that if I wanted to direct, I would have done so a long time ago. My own meandering life is rudderless, and you expect me to direct others?
THERE are many 'actors' all over Kuala Lumpur. So many different characters. For example, you are married. Outside, you're a friend, but back home you're a husband and a father. Am I right?
LIFE is but a play. But if you say this to those who don't understand, they will say you're speaking out of turn. But it's the truth. Every day we change clothes right? They are costumes. Kuala Lumpur is a platform for us to do anything, whether allowed or prohibited. The prohibited things, people push aside. I only observe and take note.
SOME say, "Sani is never serious". It is up to you guys, how to perceive me and Kuala Lumpur. This city is close to me. When I walk, Kuala Lumpur doesn't bother me. When I'm hungry, Kuala Lumpur doesn't bother me. Even when I'm thirsty, Kuala Lumpur says nothing. Kuala Lumpur just watches me.
SOMETIMES people say, "You look like the homeless in KL." I don't get angry. In life, you have to be 'homeless'. You have to try anything in Kuala Lumpur to make something of yourself, regardless of whether it's in the arts or just a regular job. All our parents want us to be something better, at the very least a lawyer carrying a James Bond briefcase.
TRAVELLING overseas is one thing, travelling in your own country is something else. Scavenging through the bin is also an adventure. Why does one do such things? Clearly, out of hunger. But at least he disturbs no one else. Don't bother him. If you want to give money, just give. That is his job. He knows his place. No qualifications, no job. Money won't come if you just sit around. It won't just fall into your lap. You have to go out there and look for it. And take note that it can come in many forms. People only think of money. But a life partner is just as valuable. So is meeting up with old friends, right? These things deserve to be studied deeper. Don't just take the simple view. Life is simple, but it's not easy to have simplicity.
IN life, a certain degree of confusion is a need sometimes, as well as a dose of ignorance. We are all the same. Not stupid, not clever, nothing that separates us. In intelligence, there is ignorance. In ignorance, there is intelligence. If I ask you to whip up some 'roti canai', if you say you don't know, then you are stupid?
I dig deep, I look around... actually, human life can never be complete. When you're hungry, you eat. When you're hungry again, you repeat the act. Is your life complete? It is never complete. Do you think your life is complete?