The smells of my kampung in Jay Bee

    (Updated )
    Azly Rahman  |  columns

    COMMENT | I am the city and the village and the house that I inhabit. I am what I am from the history that shaped me, including if the city is stinky and whether I grew up amongst those who died gangsta high in the hippie sixties. I spoke their language and learned how they have lived or not lived their lives. Had I been one of them, I would not have lived to tell you this story. In America where I had never dreamed I’d end up.

    I get my mental libido, amongst divine sources, through language. It structures my inner reality. That is the beauty of imagining what each word looks like and means in my ‘mind’s eye’.

    As a child, I was fascinated with words. As in the character in Jean Paul Sartre’s story, Nausea, I’d sit in the bus, look out of the window, and get high first on the rugged and gangsta lullabying motion of the monstrous vehicle that was the T Hakim bus service in my village, or the Johor-Singapore Express from the sinfully smelly town of Johor Baru to the Rochor Centre in Singapore.

    I’d read the words on signboards, read billboards, read name of streets.

    Sitting here now in my library amongst a few thousand books, a billion words, I’d close my eyes at times to go back to my life in a drug-infested Malay kampung in the sinful, smelly town of Jay Bee...

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