My father used to tell me bed time stories when I was younger . The themes of those bed time stories were all about being good , obedience , friendship , love and care.
He lived in Tangkak when he was a young boy . Tangkak is a small town twenty kilometers away from Muar in the State of Johore . My grandfather worked for the CEB , Central Electric Board , now called TNB , Tenaga Nasional Berhad stationed in Tangkak .
Their closed neighbor were ethnic Indians . In fact , their relationship was not merely as neighbour but more of a non blood relation . By that , they were also closed friends . The living proof is that my father still can utter many Tamil words and love to watch Tamil movies. He still complain about the food served at the Indian restaurants . ' This is not the way to cook Indian dish ! , he complains .
He was left to stay at Achi's house very often . Till now he could not remember her real name . To him , Achi means mother . My grandfather used to attend electrical breakdown till late night . Those days , I think , electrical supply was not up to date . My grandmother was a business lady . At time , she had to travel far away to sell her goods and occasionally she stayed overnight . Looking back , my father told me , his parents had fullest accreditation to Achi's family . They left their only boy in Achi's custody . He was five years old then .
Achi had many children . My father was closer to Muru and Muru was about the same age as his . Their favorite outdoor game was playing nearby the running stream . Occasionally , they dipped into the the water without being seen . When Muru's older sister or elder brothers got to know about it , they would call Achi . Achi came running , she yelled and screamed at them to got out from the water .
One day , my father followed my grandfather and grandmother to Achi's house . My father saw so many people up there . He did not know what was the occasion . He walked and squeezed himself into the house . Muru was laying there sleeping , he though . He remembered two coins were placed on Muru's eyes . He called Muru to wake up and at the same time shaking him . My farther was pulled away . He kept asking my grandmother persistently what had happen to Muru . Finally , my grandmother told my father , ' Muru dah meninggal , dia mati lemas , lepas ini dia nak dibakar ' . The only word that my father captured and understood was ' bakar ' . Then he started to cry out loud and screamed that why Muru had to be burned , repeatedly .
It was a grief experienced that my father had . What I could recall , it is the story of friendship between two boys who do not know about race , colour or creed . Unfortunately , they could not able to continue their relationship but that spirit of friendship my father carries over to this day . The lessons here , we cannot be an egocentric living in the multi ethnic society of Malaysia . We must learn to look into the views of others . In other words , we must learn of each others culture . To me , this is one of the prerequisites of 1 Malaysia .