a walk to remember

its 2013. around noon, i was on my bike to meet my editor to discuss and select photos for our new coffee tablebook schedule to be launch by end of this year. probably going to grab something to eat while at it. under a scorching sun, 20 minutes on a bike is very challenging but weather is unpredictable nor we can change it as we like. when heavy rains predicted, the sun shines through. good weather forecasted, heavy dark clouds start to form.

being an avid guy with a camera, unpredictability is like wearing a fresh underwear, you feel good about it but at the same time, the ‘tightness’ makes you on the edge. this is a [very] short story about unpredictable and the given options to avoid it. i was a little bit surprised seeing two school kids on their way to school or pre-school. unpredictable and surprise because both of them walking besides a flyover, intersect between taman shamelin and pandan jaya, as you can imagine, vehicles are extremely fast. i felt so overwhelmed by this but i don’t have a camera, the only one i had at the moment was the iPhone. unpredictability took place.

i was too fast to stop over to snap them and just as fast i was reminded by a certain case where a boy went missing on Jan 6th this year, his name was William Yau Zhen Zhong and when this article being written, his body was found 30km away from he was last seen in Klang River on the 26th. again, the nation was transfixed by this. now, thru my eyes, when i see these two kids, apparently a brother and his sister, it reminds me of all the good stuffs, being a brother of taking care of your sister, reminds me back when i was just like them, me and my brother. and the thought of their parent who probably got no choice but to let their kids make their on way to school. what kind of parent would let an 8 year old boy leads his sister with this kind of situation? talk about options?

tell that to Norshuhada Burak, 6 year old from Selayang Baru, raped and severely assaulted in October 21st 2000, Siti Nurliyana Shamimi, 2 years old from Kedah, kidnapped, raped and murdered in November 6th 2002, Nurul Huda Abdul Ghani, 10 year old from Gelang Patah, Johor, raped, sodomized and murdered in January 17th 2004, Nurin Jazlin Jazimin, 8 year old from Wangsa Maju, her body was found in a bag on August 20th 2007, sexually assaulted, Sharlini Mohamad Nashar, reported missing on January 9th 2008, still missing, Asmawi Jalaluddin, 11 year old boy, reported missing on March 1st 2008 and still missing, Nurul Nadirah Abdullah, 5 year old from Johor, her body found burnt, the list can go on and recently William Yau.

i see these two kids as unpredictable, and i would really love shooting them as part of my photo documentary collections but through the eyes of an evil, they see these as an opportunity. something goes beyond abnormal. something so evil but yet preventable. but then again, in reality, options are often vague. some says options are illusions. i got close to them, smiled and they gave an empty expression, what would happen if somebody nabbed them? i pray so hard after seeing them, God please take care of these kids.

Make this world a beautiful place for them. here’s a few shots of them, share this with you friends. make them aware of this, don’t give those bad people the chance and space!

going to school1FX

a walk to remember.

going to school2FX

a school bus passing by, a proper transportation for them, which an option too luxury, perhaps.

going to school4FX

a brother’s love.

going to school3FX

up close. they looked kinda wary on me which is a very good sign.

going to school5FX

a walk to be remember indeed.

A NEWSPAPER CUTTINGS REGARDING THE MISSING CHILDREN CASES IN MALAYSIA

crime on children

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back to hometown, bachok, kelantan

my wife was raised here until high school, she further her study in fine art at UiTM, shah alam. the first time i was here after we were married, i told myself, this is such a magnificent place, the people, the food and of course the beach. my kids love spending their afternoon on the beach. most of these are snapshots using my iPhone4 and some are using fuji klasse with agfa vista film, but i love the moments.

i was planning to get some shot early in the morning but the scenes weren’t good enuff.

a view from our room

 

she’s combing her hair, going for breakfast, kelantan style!

 

after booze

having a good time

 

okay, she refuses to get off from the beach… i love the motion blur of the waves

 

after hours in the water

 

Nama saya Ali bin Long

Sembang petang selepas makan tengahari di Restoran Tupai-tupai, melepak dengan Sarip, Udey dan Malee, kekenyangan, masing-masing tersandar di kerusi, aku dan Udey menyalakan rokok yang menjadi satu rutin bila perut diisi, tak semena-mena Udey buka cerita tentang pusat kusta yang terletak di Sungai Buloh. Aku yang dah lama sangat nak pergi ke sana untuk membuat satu foto-dokumentasi peribadi mendengar dengan penuh minat. Dan seingat aku dah masuk tiga emel aku hantar ke Pengarah Pusat Kusta beberapa tahun yang lepas tanpa sebarang balasan, jadi aku kira, harapan tinggal lah harapan.

[masuk rokok yang kedua… ketiga… dan keempat]
keriangan aku mula membuak-buak bila si Udey menceritakan tentang cara nak masuk ke pusat tersebut tanpa perlu meminta izin sebab ada kawan di sana yang memberitahu tentang akses masuk ke pusat tersebut. Aduh! Ini yang lagi buat aku suka kerana wujudnya sedikit risiko. Fotografi pada aku mesti ada sedikit calculated risk kerana ini akan membuat aku lebih alert, lebih fokus. Lebih mencabar. Balik dari sesi sembang bersama rakan-rakan aku petang itu, rangsangan terhadapnya semakin menebal bila menerima mesej whatsapp dari sahabat di Terengganu mengatakan UiTM bakal mengambil alih pusat tersebut bagi membina kampus tambahannya yang tidak mencukupi menampung jumlah pelajar. Aku mesti pergi! Tapi esok hari kerja untuk aku. Aaahhh! Lantak! Aku nak pergi sebab kalau tak pergi aku takkan senang sebab memang aku nak pergi! Kerja? Ntah bila masanya kerja nak habis jadi kalau aku tuang kerja sehari macam tak memberi apa-apa kesan. Ini semua Udey Ismail punya pasal!

[Lebuh raya MRR2 menghala ke Kepong]
Tahu-tahu je, pagi keesokannya aku dah di atas skuter kesayangan dalam kelajuan 90 kilometer sejam, di hadapan aku, rakan setia peminat foto-dokumentari, Kamaruzaman dengan lagak seperti marshall di sebuah konvoi ke destinasi yang ramai orang tak nak ambik tahu yang mana kami sendiri tak tahu lokasi sebenar. Langit cerah sedikit sebanyak melonjak perasaan ini. Deru angin dengan keras terus menerjah ke dalam telinga walhal headphone aku pada kadar maksimum mengalunkan tiupan saksofon Kenny G terus bergema. Selaju putaran sport rim aku, selaju itulah kepala ini memikirkan apakah yang menunggu kami di sana kelak? Kena halau ke? Kalau kena halau, jawabnya kedai mamak lah minum sampai lebam. Kalau dapat masuk pula, nak mulakan dengan apa? Bagaimana penerimaan mereka?  Gamaknya, benda yang sama jugak bermain di kepala kawan aku kat depan tu. Aku terus berharap yang terbaik dan meter kelajuan terus berada pada 90 kilometer sejam.

[Ini Kisah Saya I]
Ini bukan satu statistik. Kalau nak tahu tentang statistik, google tentang pusat kusta ini dan nah! Anda pasti akan dapat jawapannya. Dari sejarah penubuhan pusat ini hingga ke sekarang, jumlah pesakit dan pelbagai informasi. Tapi aku sebagai seorang manusia ingin mendekati seorang manusia yang lain tanpa prejudis dan bukan sekadar nama di buku rekod pesakit. Kisah Ali bermula 52 tahun yang lampau, tutur katanya yang jelas berlapikkan loghat utara, walaupun mulut beliau terdapat sedikit kecacatan, aku dapat rasakan ingatannya terhadap kisah dan sejarah dia sendiri membadai kekesalan; mungkin, persoalan yang tiada kesudahan serta harapan yang semakin luntur seperti cat dinding rumah yang mencecah satu abad. Namun kisah dan sejarah yang menemukan aku dan Ali pada hari itu bermula sejak tahun 600 sebelum masehi, seusia kota Pompei dan terbinanya piramid. Betapa tuanya penyakit kusta ini. Sesungguhnya Tuhan Maha Berkuasa, Dia yang menurunkan penyakit dan Dia jualah yang menyembuhkannya. Tiada kompromi.

Setelah membuat sedikit bacaan, aku kira… pengasingan dari masyarakat bagi pesakit kusta mungkin lebih pedih dari penyakit itu sendiri. Stigma masyarakat masih keras. Tapi tidak sekeras semangat juang bagi insan bernama Ali ini.

[Ini Kisah Saya II]
Ibunya pergi ketika beliau berumur lima tahun atas sakit yang tidak diketahuinya. Apa yang diberitahu, sakit perut. Itu sahaja. Dan itu sudah mencukupi bagi anak yang berusia lima tahun. Belum kebah rindu terhadap ibu yang didambanya, sesingkat masa bersama ibu tersayang, sesingkat itu jualah tempoh masa normal bagi Ali apabila selang beberapa tahun dia disahkan menghidap kusta. Dan ketika itulah Ali menceritakan perihal ayah dan adiknya ke pekan di Kepala Batas dan tidak pulang-pulang selepas itu. Ya allah! Dugaan apa yang kau berikan kepada anak yang hanya usia begini. Aku bingung sebentar memikirkan perasaan dia ketika itu.

Tapi insan bernama Ali ini insan terpilih. Kalau tidak dek berpegang kepada kalimah keramat, percaya kepada qada dan qadar, mungkin sudah lama nyawa disentap dengan tangannya sendiri sebagimana di khabarkan berlaku kepada sesetengah pesakit akibat menahan rasa kejumudan orang ramai terhadap mereka. Rentetan daripada episod suram itu, dikutipnya sisa-sisa hidup yang ada; disemat kemas bersama semangat dan tekad untuk terus hidup. Dan atas dorongan untuk terus hidup, pada usia 10 tahun dia dihantar ke Sungai Buloh untuk rawatan selanjutnya. Tiada kata yang boleh aku ungkapkan disini, tatkala umur 10 tahun, anak-anak aku sedang amat manja dengan aku, sekiranya mereka sakit aku jua akan turut sakit. Dan ketika mendengar kisah ini, aku rentan. Sungguh.


Aku berhenti menulis, pen aku sisip kemas di beg. Aku tergaman. Otak aku terus berhujah tapi mulut aku membisu. Terbisu oleh nurani aku sebagai seorang ayah memikirkan anaknya berusia 10 tahun di rumah dan terbisu melihat beliau sebagai seorang ayah pada usia begini dan melihatkan keadaan fizikalnya begitu, meruntunkan segala ranting perasaan. Aku biarkan Ali terus bercerita dan rakan aku, Kamaruzaman cekap bertanya. Kamera aku terus berkelip. Dalam rumah agak suram pencahayaan dan membangkit mood kelabu dan desaturated, aku rasa cukup asing. Aku kah tetamu atau dia yang sedang mengunjungi aku? Aku percaya dan berpegang, fotografi adalah tentang emosi. Itu sahaja yang membezakan kita dengan tunggul kayu. Aku terus dibuai emosi yang tiada warna dan kamera terus aku biarkan berkelip. Ini kisah sedih, ini kisah perjuangan.

[Nama saya Ali bin Long II]
Nama yang cukup ringkas namun tidak sama sekali pada jurnal hidupnya. Kepayahan beliau mengharungi kehidupan sebagai pesakit kusta memang tidak terjangkau oleh kita yang hidup pada paksi normal kehidupan tapi setiap kepayahan pasti membuahkan satu semangat juang yang amat luarbiasa. Entah berapa kali gugurnya harapan beliau untuk hidup seperti orang lain, gugurnya harapan umpama gugurnya satu persatu jari-jemarinya. Sembilan jari di tangan telah dimakan virus Mycobacterium leprae. Cangkul yang menjadi teman di kala pagi dan petang sejak bertahun dibiarkan reput dan berkarat. Motorsikalnya dijual kerana tiada upaya memulas minyak. Perkara yang mudah bagi kita adalah satu cabaran yang maha hebat bagi beliau. Ya Allah! Aku cukup bersyukur akan pertemuan ini. Aku lupa akan nikmat. Aku lupa akan lazatnya berjari. Merasa hangat secawan kopi. Merasa mesra tangan seorang isteri. Merasa dingin wuduk di kala pagi! Namun, ujian Allah datang lagi. Begitulah sayangnya kepada Ali.

Pada tahun 1975, mata kirinya terpaksa dibuang kerana virus telah merosakkan saraf. Kini Ali merenung takdirnya dengan visi yang jauh berbeza. Untuk sekian kali dia pasrah. Disimpan kekecewaannya jauh di sanubari, susuknya bersandar di kerusi malas dan melihat keluar jendela dan memerhati langit dan bintang dengan pandangan yang pincang sejak 50 tahun lepas. Dia menggumpal segala rasa, mengimbau kembara derita, lalu dilipat rapi namun rintihan sepi lelaki ini terus berkumandang di rumah kecil bernombor 39 ini.


[Nama saya Ali bin Long III]
Kepasrahan Ali semakin terbius dengan berlalunya masa demi masa. Kalendar di pintu hanya mengingatkannya terhadap peristiwa penting seperti Aidilfitri, Hari Kemerdekaan dan Tahun Baru. Tiada tarikh yang signifikan untuknya sebagai seorang manusia. Tiada tarikh ingatan hari lahir, cuti sekolah, perbaharui lesen atau cukai jalan. Ali tiada dalam capaian internet kecuali selepas artikel ini dikeluarkan. Ali tiada emel. Apatah lagi berada di laman sosial. Kewujudan Ali hanya pada rekod senarai pesakit kusta negara. Barangkali, itulah yang dirasai oleh kelompok warga kusta di desa terpinggir ini. Adakah mereka ini hanya wujud sebagai satu statistik? Mungkin ya, mungkin tidak namun penghujung Februari 2003, Ali tidak dapat merasai kewujudan kaki kanannya. Dari paras lutut ke bawah dan Ali hanya mampu tersenyum. Begitu juga dengan rakan-rakannya yang lain.

Kehilangan anggota untuk pesakit kusta umpama melambung bola, ia pasti akan jatuh. Nampaknya kusta dan graviti mempunyai satu persamaan yang meresahkan. Jadi sehingga kini, Ali berjalan agak terhencot dengan kaki palsunya tapi tetap gagah untuk lelaki kusta berusia 70 tahun. Ali tidak pernah berkahwin. Sesekali dia akan mengalun lagu-lagu lama dendangan Allahyarham Ahmad Jais, bait-bait lagu tentang rindu dan kehidupan, menghibur aku dan rakan aku. Dan berderailah gelak tawa kami bila lirik lagu cuba kami nyanyi bersama! Saat itu, ketika itu aku nampak satu senyuman yang paling manis dari Ali! Senyuman yang menyimpan seribu satu duka. Rakan-rakan di sini adalah saudaranya, tidak kira bangsa, mereka memahami antara satu sama lain. Fungsi “Share” dan “Like” di antara mereka di perkampungan ini lebih manis dan mulia jika dibandingkan di laman facebook.

[dari Sungai Buloh menghala ke MRR2]
Aku tadi mengambil gambar foto Ali. Foto adalah pegun dan bisu. Tapi ketika di atas skuter,  video pertemuan yang dirakam di dalam kepala semasa di sana aku mainkan, ada sesetengah bahagian aku hentikan, ulang balik, main semula, cuba mencari sesuatu. Cuba memahami. Pada kelajuan yang sama seperti aku datang, memang agak samar untuk aku mencari satu jawapan. Aku tetap mainkan rakaman pertemuan tadi, berkongsi dengan segala bentuk deria dan rasa. Ali bin Long akan terus kekal di sana. Sehingga mana perlu. Hanya Allah yang tahu. Terima kasih tuhan atas pertemuan ini. Singkat tapi meninggalkan impak yang abadi untuk aku, pasti!

Rumah-rumah yang masih didiami dan yang telah ditinggalkan.

Sekitar di hospital kusta, tempat merawat pesakit akut.

moga apa yang aku cuba kongsikan ini memberi manfaat kepada kita semua termasuklah aku sendiri. salam hormat.

“In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man’s torments”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

pemikir barat ini seolah mengejek akan putus harapan dan lupa panji yang didukung oleh umat senja zaman ini hanya berpaksikan kepada Yang Satu, Dialah pusat segala harapan!

Blacksmith of Pasir Penambang, Kuala Selangor

About 80km from the city of Kuala Lumpur, popular for its seafood restaurants and obviously, fishing villages, Pasir Penambang, Kuala Selangor is a quiet little town, where time significantly slower on this part of the world. and ah! yes, there’s also Kampung Kuantan and Kampung Belimbing just around the corner for those haven’t seen or even know what fireflies look like 🙂 If the time is right, they could lid the whole stretch along the river.

Well, if you guys google about this place, its all about food, food and more food. But this place offers more than that especially for photographers if you can get to the edge of this town, and I was struck by the beauty of this place and blessed with such a splendid weather thru out the day.

Along the main road stood old shophouses and most of them are still in good shape even after more than 50 years by the seaside. I’ve read about there’s a couple of blacksmiths still in business in this town and bingo! That’s the connection I’ve been searching to relate this dying trade and art form with this town. In a town where most of them are fishermen, a good cleaver, machette or blade is crucial in business. Even small metal parts on boats need replacement once in a while. Mr. Chuan Lee Chan has been pounding metal since he was a teenager.

Uncle Chan explaining to us on the steps of producing a good, sharp and long lasting cleavers, notice the black wooden wall, it used to be brown as in the original color of wood.

He inherited this business from his father but like all dying trade, apparently, no one in his family is interested in keeping it alive. He put on a long gaze when I asked him who’s going to continue his work. Very sweet, soft spoken gentleman, in his late 50’s, his first medical check up 20 years ago gave an impression to the doctor that he’s a heavy smoker but due to long exposure to fumes and smoke from the superheat furnace, both his lungs are about to give up on him. These are snapshots during my visit to his workshop, taken using Nikon D70 with kit-lens and iPhone.

Took one of his finished machete off the wall, he also sells other brand which are quite similar in terms of quality.

These are raw materials, roughed shapes from metal plates mounted as absorbers for small lorries and trucks are use.

Some of the tools being use, rusted from salted sea humidity.

Uncle Chan heating the metal and as you can see, he is very close with the flame and it is hot, within minutes, the metal turned into blazing red!

Close up of the super heated furnace, turbine air being blown using a powerful air blower produce a fast and fierce hot flames.

Hot stuff! At this age, his agility during this process was amazing.

Dip into water, a process where all blacksmiths around the world since the dawn of time did the same thing.

While the metal is still soft, he hammered it away to shape or fine tune the metal, this process is called forging.

Notice number 22 on the cleaver, that is his mark, a sort of brand which he refused to tell me what it meant. Probably got to do something with his number 44 workshop?

An art form at its best! After forging the metal, grinding took place to roughly sharpened the cleaver. He complaint that both his hands are not that strong for holding the grinder for long period of time and it is heavy.

As the grinder reaches to the tip of the cleaver, the sparks turned into fireworks!

Mrs Chan. She doesn’t speak much. Not very comfortable with me holding a camera. She ignored me and this is the only picture of her.

Fire and Faith. A cooled down furnace, ironically the color red of this vase still gives the heated sensation to me.

Sales receipts. Cost of living over here isn’t that high, as long as they manage to get their priorities done, like I said earlier, its a slow paced town.

The goods, parangs or machetes with plastic handles. At the back is their kitchen and a place to take a break.

The goods being displayed. Some are his, some from other manufacturers.

High spirited Uncle Chan telling stories on how this town was like when he was young, I could have sworn he almost shed a tear when looking back at yesteryears.

Thank you Uncle Chan for your hospitality, to catch a glimpse on this disappearing trade. May you live well and prosper. Farewell.


POSHe handing over the donations

just a few days before EidulFitri, the group Film Junkies Unite came back to Positive Shelter Home (POSHe) to hand over the collections that we organised in less than ten days, some of the donations went into the shelter’s daily expenses while some goes direct to the kids as Duit Raya, something to put a smile on their faces on the glorious 1st of Syawal. There’s also a few hampers, canned foods, cereals and milks for those little ones. Many thanks to the members of FJU and to those who donated, only Allah can repay this and to Mak Wan who handle this home, may you have the strength and patience to keep this home running, we the Film Junkies Unite group will always support you in our unique way. God bless you all. Amin.

Sarip giving an opening speech with his Instax camera which was pretty cool!

majdi a.k.a red406 gave Mak Wan the donations.

zulkhairy a.ka. xzulz gave Mak Wan the duit raya to be distributed to the kids.

Mak Wan showing Siti the donations, unfortunately Siti only feeds on certain milk, she's unable to chew so rely fully on milk and this milk is expensive.

Sarip is giving away duit raye to the kids.

Zul's turn to handing over the envelopes 🙂

squating from left: Majdi, Zulkhairy, Sarip and Maestro with the kids. Two kids with stripes shirts are my boys, want to show them that they should be grateful of what they have and stop complaining on things they didn't get because out there, there are people far less unfortunate than us. thanks you to all FJU members, i'm proud to be part of this unique group.

POSHe – Positive Shelter Home

its been a yearly activities for us to visit this place, last time it was Rumah Solehah, this time its POSHe’s turn, run by the same lady-Mak Wan, whom we all have the most utter respect for handling this facilities on her own, using her own funds and all.

This morning, Sunday 21 Aug 2011, me, red406, guillotine_man, xzulz and may_kasturi went just to check out this place besides saying Hi to the kids. Aidilfitri is just around the corner, this special and amazing kids just wanna celebrate it as they should. People like Mak Wan really makes this world such a blessing, we hope she can endure this and only the Almighty can repay this to her.

their humble entrance

shy kids at first

their belongings. mostly school stuffs, bags and books

sharing their sorrow while Mak Wan telling sad tales of the house.

red406 aka majdi listening to Mak Wan describing her experience with the kids and the struggle she faced thru the establishment of the house.

Siti, probably the main attraction of the house reciting a Doa which was very very cute!

guillotine_man aka sarip gave full attention to Mak Wan's explanation.

Sham, 10 years old, with his bicycle and the spirit of Indipendence on 31 August.

posing in front of the house.

xzulx, may_kasturi, red406 and guillotine_man were the main person behind this since we all are members of Film Junkies Unite at flickr and facebook group. keep it up guys!

all shots are using iPhone4, converted to BW. Thanxs for dropping by 🙂

In the Heart of Chow Kit Wet Market

One of our nation best performer, the late Sudirman Hj Arshad had a song entitled “Chow Kit Road” and he made a huge concert along the road on 15th April 1986 where people from all over Malaysia swarmed this place to see his free concert. If I can recall, this is the first wet market that have  the capacity of getting almost anything you want on your list of groceries and it is still the place o go on weekends or at the end of a month after payroll.

I was attending Eddieputera’s so called “mini outing” on July 31st, a day before Ramadhan, and it turned out to be a huge gathering. More than 50 people showed up to try their hands on street photography. Ralverd aka Ray Lim from PhotoMalaysia.com gave us a short talk about doing street shooting. Met lots of new faces and made new friends.  Frankly speaking, I haven’t been in the heart of Chow Kit wet market for over a decade now and this place offers a huge amount of potential images of this well-known place of the city folks over the years. Yesterday, on the 22nd June 2014, the City Hall of Kuala Lumpur demolished this market to make ways for a more modern and well organise structure thus to accommodate more potential business in the future. I basically grew up in here, I know each and every corner of this place, holding my father’s hand as we cut thru the city folks flooded this market during each end of the month.  progress is inevitable. we humans are extremely good in adapting; i am going to miss this place.

very much.

all shots are from Zeiss Biogon 35mm f2 on a Leica M7 • Fuji Neopan 400 • Rodinal 1/100 @ 35mins