We went visiting a relative at DBKL flat in Jalan Peel, Pudu to check on the wedding preparation of Bob, their loving son taking place at the weekend in Pekan Nanas, Johor.
I was surprised to be met by a charming smiling boy at the door and asked if he was the “cucu” that I have not met. Norsiah and Mat Nor hastily informed that he was a “stray” from one of the flats, neglected by the parents whose next door neighbour was already having their hands full with their own kids to care for him. So this relative of mine took pity on Yusri and allowed the boy to hang around their place. That’s understandable; their children have grown up, working and leading their own life – at their late age they needed company of the young.
I thought he was a good subject to talk to; my instinct as a former broadcaster led me to asking him questions that came back with a one word or one liner answer and amused everyone around. With facts provided by the couple and the answer from Yusri, this is what I gather.
He is now in standard 2, never did his homework. Last year he spent most of his time outside school. This year Cik Nor (his reference to Norsiah) make sure he is in school daily and provided him lunch and place to rest while waiting for his mother to reach home normally well after 5 pm and could be as late as 4 am. My curiosity as to his mother’s occupation was left unanswered as he only said she went to the Concorde. He was reluctant to communicate on his father.
Evening was chaotic at his flat with various “pakciks” on motorbikes (possibly Mat Rempits) coming in and out, making noises and lot of arguments. Neighbours keep complaining telling them to bring their problems outside the neighbourhood instead of disturbing the tranquillity of the place.
All he knew his parents’ kampong is in Perak but he didn’t know the exact location and they have never brought him there. His life has always been around the flat. It seems he was independent since a toddler crossing the busy thoroughfare of the area to the chagrin of concern neighbours who has brought the situation to the attention of the welfare authority without avail.
Yusri looks cheerful all the time, quite aware of the going on around him. He hasn’t got many friends but get around to plays his favourite sport of football at the school field nearby with some of the kids around the flat.
I just checked his pocket and asked him what was inside. He showed me a set of keys and a small metal toy car. He obligingly demonstrated its use. I suppose he occupies most of his time pushing the little toy around the lengthy corridor and imagine he was one of the drivers along the street of KL.
I asked him what he wanted to be in the future. He seems to admire Bob and wanted to be a cameraman like him. When told that Bob is getting married he shyly said that was not for him. All of us took the opportunity of advising on the virtue of going to school and not neglecting his education to be like Bob. He seems inspired. Hopefully it stays in his memory.
At the moment Yusri is a lucky lad with caring neighbours around. It scares me to think of the situation of neglected and forgotten old folks in the media lately. There was this Malay guy who stayed in the chicken coop at the back of a Chinese house near Bukit Mertajam. Then there was this Chinese fellow who stayed in a shack at the fringe end of a jungle somewhere near Teluk Intan. There are many more such stories from all over the places in the country.
This make me wonder what went wrong with the family system and what is being done by the “caring society” programmes and campaigns that is aggressively campaign all over the media in the country. The richer gets richer while the downtrodden keep on being forgotten and neglected.
The saga continues.