“Back then, girls were not allowed to mix with boys. During movie dates, us girls would enter one at a time. Then the boys would wait a few minutes before coming in as a group. When the theatre turned dark, everyone swapped seats. The whole community knew my father was a police officer, so we couldn’t raise suspicion!”
Growing up with a law enforcer for a father didn’t stop 70-year old Aminah from occasionally bending the rules, although keeping her activities a secret from the dinner table was slightly harder.
“I would sit all alone in a cold, miserable 6,000 square foot room. The only company I had was a sea of giant computers, and my job was to ‘talk’ to them!”
58-year old retiree Jude used to programme mainframe computers. Much of his adult life however has revolved around church.
In the mid-1990s, 67-year old Anwar lost his wife to illness. His son, who at the time was about to finish secondary school, never got over her death.
Today, father and son are well and truly estranged.
“He stopped going to school after Primary 6. For now, we’re just waiting until he’s old enough to work.”
But is 53-year old Dina truly fine with her 14-year old son just sitting around the house?
“Once, we left our house for a week to attend our grandmother’s funeral in Ipoh, leaving the doors wide open. Nothing was missing or out of place when we returned! That’s how much people trusted each other.”
Things were a lot simpler back then. But as siblings Ah Ling and Wong are well aware, ‘then’ is now five decades ago.
Sweating under the scorching sun in Kuala Kangsar, chased by hordes of mosquitoes (one clap of the hands can kill up to five!), 57-year-old Ah Seng teaches Team Ceritalah how to tap rubber.
"It has to be one steady motion, if the cut is jagged, the milk will not flow."
"There's a new disease. It's spreading fast. It's called BBM".
Abang Zaki (not his real name) lights a kretek (clove) cigarette and inhales deeply. "Nobody knows how it got its name or what causes it. It dries out the stalks of the padi. After that, you can't use it."
“Whether in or out of government, Umno’s Wanita wing is the backbone of the party. Their door-to-door canvassing operation is second to none and is one of the main reasons why the party was so dominant over the decades.
While it couldn’t stop the defeat of 2018, the women who work in its ranks are the hardcore: they pour their heart and soul into the party.
Team Ceritalah first met Mala, a 50-year-old resident of the Kota Damansara PPR (government-built, low-cost flats) exactly one year ago.
She was – and still is – pragmatic, proactive and positive.
While there’s still some of her fiery persona left, she seems slightly more fatigued and exasperated nowadays: “Things are okay, my grandkids are my strength.”