by Yusuf Martin
Local Kampung house
With a heavy heart Kamal had driven those last few kilometers into the city, past tolls, past the housing estates past the malls and the factories practically in a daze. His drifting mind still pre-occupied with the kampung he had left and the free and easy times he had shared with his brothers, sisters and parents.
It was always thus. Kamal’s desire to return to the kampung where he spent his youth was balanced against the loss he always felt when he eventually had to make the return to the city. Pressures of work and all the mundane things which now constituted his life both as an adult and as a working professional tied him to the city, but it was in the idyll of the kampung that
his heart really lay.
Boarding school, university and then his first job opportunity wrenched Kamal from his kampung and made it very difficult for him to make a permanent return. The cosines of a good income, a satisfactory apartment in a convenient part of the city, a wife who felt more at home roaming the malls and a job which both supplied the finances and tied him to the city all contributed
to his stay there.
And yet he lived for those few days when he could return to the rural splendor of bougainvillea and thunbergia, of coconut palm and pandan leaf
reliving the simplest of pleasures like fishing for tilapia, roaming the mining-pool pathways in a 4x4 or sitting taking teh tarik in his father’s shop. Kamal relaxed and slowly absorbed the peaceful quiet of the kampung, drawing it deep into himself so that he could sustain himself with it on his return to the city, remembering the sounds, the sights and the smells - it had become his ritual over the many years he had lived away.
For many to Balik Kampung was simply to go home to visit parents at holiday time or during one of the religious festivals, to eat of Ma’s cooking, wrestle with the odd relative or two and head back to the city feeling that they had once more done their duty, but for Kamal to balik kampung meant to re-visit his soul - that which made him human and to bathe once again in the waters of innocence and to heal in the presence of the rural womb. Going home to the kampung, for Kamal, was a spiritual return, it gave him back all that he had missed during his stay in the city, it made him whole again, strong enough to face up to trials and tribulations of city life.
For many years Kamal had said to himself that one day he would return for good, one day he would build the house he had always wanted to build
on the plot of land bought a few years back, one day he too would sit and gaze across at the mining-pool lake and know that he was finally home.
And today as he watched the bulldozer fell the last tree, and the workmen scrabbling at clearing the foliage from his half-acre plot, Kamal felt that he was finally getting closer to fulfilling his dream. He turned and smiled at his son unable to say the words but nodded and smiled the warmest smile he had conjured for many a year.
About Yusuf Martin
Yusuf Martin is a local artist and writer from Perak. His stories are mostly about local kampung life in Perak. He wrote exclusively for the Pangkor website the following story. Pictures on this page are all copyright Yusuf Martin.
Yusuf Martin is a philosophy graduate. post graduate in art history & theory post graduate in gallery studies English man living in Malaysia. Writer, photographer and digital artist.
More stories of Yusuf Martin on his all the time extending blogs: