Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tales from the Sobering Side: Drunk With Power

Oh my. It is 5.44am, and the electricity is still on. It's like magic!

I tried sleep, but it wouldn't catch. This usually happens when I get an idea or two and can't seem to close my eyes.

It is very easy to not appreciate electricity. It's so common. But try and have it turned off a day or two every six months, and you begin to appreciate stuff like electric lights, TV, the computer and music and movies and the arts and books and stuff like that.

When I was growing up, my village only had 12 hours of electricity. It starts at 7pm, and gets turned off at 7am. More or less. TNB was then LLN - Lembaga Letrik Nasional. Or Negara.

I always thought it was stupid to name anything as 'lembaga' because it sounds like something from a horror show. Like, real horrorshow, my droogs.

I grew up not knowing Toriton. I would catch the second and/or third act of The Incredible Hulk (animated series) cause it starts at 7pm. Vic Morrow's Combat only due to my father's car battery hooked up to the old TV set on Saturday afternoons.

TV3 only started broadcast to the East Coast sometime in 1986, I think. I was six years old. I still remember that the first programme I watched was the news. The newscaster said something about new viewers on the East Coast and how to get them using the VHF waves.

My mother used to iron clothes using a coal iron. Our stove was oil-powered. The house looked so big those days. My world was so small.

I'd go to kindergarten and on the way home, we'd kill snakes. Most of the snakes in my village were not poisonous. There was the 'katam tebu' which could kill in two minutes, as well as the diamond-headed green viper which closely resembles the harmless leaf snake, but other than that, the snakes were quite pathetic.

We don't mess around with cobras, though. Fucking poisonous, those.

There was wild quail, and one crossed my path on the way to school.

In kindergarten, they have a way to weed out retards on the first day. They give you pictures of things - animals and plants - and ask you to name them. They were all drawn by the teachers.

Mine was a palm tree of sorts. I was asked, "What is this?"

I said, "It's a tree."

"What kind of tree?"

The artwork was really bad. I couldn't distinguish whether it was a palm tree or palm oil or just a regular tree. So I shrugged.

"It's a palm tree," they said, and put me down as borderline retard.

As toys, the kindergarten got some stupid blocks. Triangles, rectangles, squares and circles of wood, coloured with lead-based paint. I hated those. Really hated them. It couldn't combine or anything.

We officiated the slide, the tire swings (which I avoided like the plague) and the see-saw. The see-saw I used as a prop to pretend to be SIlverhawks characters. But the other kids didn't get it. And I had the theme song and everything.

I played with ant-lions in the sand. Caught a few of them, and killed them. I fought a goat and had cows as pets.

I didn't have comics or books, growing up, so I read the Book of Natural History, and my father's collection of Reader's Digest from 1956 - 1983. I know a lot about the '60s and '70s, the Jurassic Era, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Martina Navratilova, Groucho Marx and not much about today.

What was my point again?

Oh. I come from the swamp, man. So excuse me if I'm not fucking refined. I'm not as rough as my friends, growing up, but I didn't come from a 'good family' that rides horses or some shit. My parents were poor. Still are.

Now that I have exhausted some of my ideas, maybe it's time to try sleep. Again.