Maybe it's true what they say: That the holiday season makes you depressed.
Or maybe it's not true what they say.
Who the hell are They anyway?
And why are they always saying shit?
Anyway, something happened to me today. Something that Got Me Thinking 'Bout Stuff.
I went down to a convenience store near my office at lunchtime to get a Coke, right?
Irrelevant but funny detail:
The name of the shop is JusMart. And their tagline is: You Are Just Smart!
Anyway, I was in the shop when suddenly, I saw it.
It's yellow packet stood out like an Indian with Equity. On the packet, the familiar blue furry-monster pointed upwards to the red letters on a white band. The letters simply spelled:
I don't know about you, but I have fond memories of MAMEE.
When I was a kid, we'd purchase a packet of the stuff for maybe 20sen. Then we'd open the packet, and inside was a white sachet which contained a substance that might've been either salt, ajinomoto or cocaine.
We'd empty the sachet into the packet, crunch the packet up, shake it vigourously, then...well, as Norm from Cheers used to say - you'd have a party in your mouth.
So I saw this packet in JusMart, and believing that I Was Just Smart, I purchased what I thought was not just MAMEE, but a Trip Down Memory Lane.
I took the packet back to the office, excitedly tore it open, only to discover that...
The fucking cocaine sachet wasn't there!
They had replaced it with a sachet containing some unidentifiable gunky brown nonsense.
It tasted bloody awful. I was outraged.
Outraged, I tell you!
"How the fuck could they do this to me!" I screamed at my colleague.
"Huh?" he said.
"They fucked with my Memories!"
"You have mammaries? Who fucked with them?"
"The people at MAMEE!"
"Yes, goddammit! Why are you making me repeat myself? Are you listening to me at all? They replaced the cocaine with brown gunky! Brown fucking gunky, I tell you!"
He didn't get what I was talking about, the fucking twit. People are so stupid nowdays. He just didn't understand.
It's not just about the MAMEE, I wanted to tell him.
It's Chickadees as well.
Back in the day, every shop you went to, there were Twisties and Chickadees, side by side. Like Ebony and Ivory. Batman and Robin. Lucy and Ricky.
Then suddenly, they became Mahathir and Anwar.
Twisties survived. Chickadees was sent to Sungai Buloh on dubious sex charges.
But then, lately, Chickadees seems to be making a comeback.
I saw a packet (they still have Saya Charlie Chickadees on the packet) a couple of months ago in - guess where? - JusMart. I'm thinking of suggesting to them a change in tagline.
We Fuck Up Your Memories seems appropriate.
The Chickadees taste was nothing like how I remembered it.
I thought that it was just a one-off thing, but now this whole MAMEE episode has me Demoralised, Depressed and Something else that begins with De- in order to keep this sentence "punchy".
This whole fiasco has convinced me that:
Life, like MAMEE and Chickadees, is best enjoyed in hindsight.
But then I thought: Wait a minute!
Then I waited a minute. When a minute was over, I thought:
I have a Time-Machine, dammit! I can just go back to my school days and buy all the MAMEE and Chickadees I want. And they'll taste like they used to taste! And while I'm there, I'll tell Anwar to "stop all this Bahasa Baku nonsense. It won't work. And you have other things to worry about."
So I got on my slide, waited for the sunlight to hit the mirror, Pushed Really Hard, and...
The sign on the old building said SRK Temenggong Abdul Rahman (1) (STAR 1) in faded letters that looked like they were cut out from polystyrene boards.
Outside the gates, I could barely make out Uncle's Truck, with its assortment of assams, drinks, and junk food packets.
The truck was somewhat obscured by a dense cloud of red dust, that emanated from a group of kids playing pepsi-cola 123, a game played on a suitably slippery tanah merah surface.
A Chinese boy shouted "Pepsi Cola 123!", then charged towards an Indian boy, sliding on the surface before kicking the Indian boy on the leg, a move that meant that the Indian boy was now "Out".
The Indian boy walked off dejectedly. He looked familiar.
I walked to Uncle's Truck, momentarily forgetting where, or rather when, I was.
"Uncle," I said, "Remember me?"
"Lu siapa? Apa lu Mau?" he said.
I sighed, a little embarrased, but also a little dissapointed that my Memory, once more, had let me down. Was he always this rude? I wondered.
"MAMEE lima-puluh, Chickadees lima-puluh," I said.
He looked at me strangely, but, like any Chinese-Malaysian according to Lee Kuan Yew, was compliant. He gave me the packets but continued to eye me as I walked away. I suspect he thought I was a paedophile.
I walked towards my Time-Machine slide, but a little boy's voice stopped me.
"Uncle!" the boy said.
I turned around to see the pathetic-looking Indian boy calling out to me. He was skinny as hell and had bruises and blood on his legs - clearly from losing all those Pepsi-Cola 123 matches.
He was, I realised with a mixture of pity and amazement, Me.
"Uncle," 12-year-old me repeated.
"Yes?" I said.
"Can I have a MAMEE?" he said.
Was I like this? I tried to recall.
"Didn't your parents tell you never to take things from strangers?" I said.
He shook his head. No.
Liar, I thought.
"Well, you shouldn't take things from people you're not familiar with."
"You look familiar," he said.
I gave him a MAMEE. I looked at the sun. Still time.
"What do you want to be when you grow up?" I asked, knowing he'd heard this question many times from Uncles and Aunties.
"A veterinarian," was the familiar reply.
Liar, I thought. You hate cats. How're you going to be a vet?
"Don't you want to be a rock guitarist like Richie Sambora?"
Got you now, you lying little shit.
He looked at me, surprised. His attention no longer on the MAMEE.
"What's your favourite book?" I asked and mouthed the answer along with him.
"Peter Pan," he said.
"You really want to write storybooks, don't you?"
He shrugged, a gesture which was supposed to convey Whatever. Liar. I knew it conveyed Yes.
"I've written a book," I said.
"What's it about?"
"It's about a prostitu...errr...never mind."
"Can I read it?"
"No. You're too young. And besides, it's not published yet."
Man, what an irritant.
"Never mind," I said. I looked towards the sun. Time.
"I've got to go. You can have the MAMEE and Chickadees."
"All of it?"
I didn't need it anymore.
I was no longer Demoralised, Depressed and De-something.
"Oh, one more thing. If you see Anwar Ibrahim, tell him to stop all this Bahasa Baku nonsense. It won't work. And he has other things to worry about."
"Who's Anwar Ibrahim?"
The 12-year old boy watched as the strange man, now without the MAMEE and Chickadees, who somehow seemed to know stuff about him, mounted a slide, pushed really hard and...
I am sitting in my office dictating this post to God. It's now 12.02 and He's complaining that He has prayers to answer. You just can't get good help nowdays.
Theoretically, I'm supposed to be working on an ad campaign for A Government Client.
Here's irony for you:
When I left school, I applied for a Government scholarship to study Advertising. They sent me back a letter saying my grades weren't good enough for advertising. (Do you need good grades to succeed in Advertising? Nonsense. All you need is the ability to lie. As you can see above, I had this ability since I was 12.) So the Government said I'm not good enough for Advertising, yet here I am anyway, getting paid quite good money for producing ads for the very Government that said I wasn't good enough to produce ads in the first place. Assholes.
I have to get out of here. I really do.
I have to be a published writer. Or Richie Sambora. Atau kedua-duanya sekali. But it's looking more likely that I'll take the writer route.
I have two rejection letters so far from publishers in Singapore who say that "we can't publish your book because the Malaysian Government doesn't have a sense of humour about these things."
But I have to get published, dammit. Somehow.
So here it goes. My New Years' Resolution:
1) Pay off debts (again)
2) Quit Job (again)
3) GET BOOK PUBLISHED!!!
I have to.
I owe it to a 12-year-old boy.
Note to my MAMEE, err...I mean Mummy:
Remember the time when you were supposed to pick me up from school but I wasn't there? And then you waited and waited and finally you left and went to Aunty M's house and almost panicked and cried because you thought I was kidnapped or dead or something?
Remember, when I finally got to Aunty M's house, I told you I saw some suspicious people near the school and panicked and started walking home instead of waiting at the bus-stop?
Well, the truth is, I was hiding in my class, eating 50 MAMEE and 50 Chickadees.
It wasn't my fault.
My Future Self gave it to me, so if you want to scold anyone, scold him.
Wait a minute, I am my future self.
I know I've said some mean things about You in this site and You want your revenge, okay?
I'm sorry, okay?
I need you to delete this last bit.
Don't hit the Publish button yet, okay?
Don't hit Publi