Prologue - Tuesday February 13 2006
No, I am not kidding. I am not copying Mitch Albom's "Tuesdays With Morrie".
I am reminiscing the past here.
This is for real. Tuesday was the day our family was allowed to visit my dad, after he was detained in 1976, under the Internal Security Act at the orders of (then Prime Minister) Hussein Onn.
And it would be every Tuesday off from work for me from then on, until his release in 1981.
My boss, Rejal Arbee (then at the NST), unhesitantly marked a cross in the Tuesday margin in the reporters' roster. No questions asked. I can never forget that.
But there are some things you want to forget but cannot.
And then, somehow for some unexplained reason, after living with memories that won't go away, you are glad that they have remained. Fresh and lucid. Like they just happened this morning.
How could I forget the sound of the front gate being tapped and then loudly being rapped in the early hours that fateful day in 1976?
How my elder brother, so irritated to have been awakened at such an hour, acted so macho and demanded from the four men some form of identification, only to have to grudgingly open the gate after being shown proof that they were really police officers?
How confused and angry we were when they came and demanded to go through the books in our library as well as the things in my dad's bedroom?
I remember their faces. Especially the one who confiscated books on China or anything remotely Chinese, uttering that they must be books on Communism.
How we could still laugh, though quietly to ourselves, when he menacingly extricated Pearl S Buck's "The Good Earth" from the bookshelf.
And yes the last few words bapak told mak after asking her to pack his toothbrush, a tube of toothpaste and a change of clothes.
"Don't worry. I'll be home tomorrow," he remarked as the men escorted him out of the house.
For the first time, bapak was dead wrong.