MY column last week on Bangsar had touched the heart of a resident. After reading the article, a gentleman by the name of Phraba Nayar sent an email on Sunday morning, a few hours after this newspaper hit the street. This is an excerpt from what he sent:
“I read your column this morning and it evoked memories. I grew up at the NEB Quarters in Bangsar (223 Jalan Ru), from when I was born in 1963.
“My three siblings and I had a great time there. The fence that functioned as the border between my neighbour’s house and ours, was torn down to enable seamless entry into each other’s house.
“My neighbour was a Malay family, and next to the cul-de-sac in front of my house, a Baba Nyonya family and a Chinese family.
“All of us had a great time. Honestly, race and religion, no one even talked about it; we visited each other’s homes almost every day and ate each other’s meals without a thought, yet, respectful of each other’s beliefs, culture and tradition.
“I looked forward to the NEB Annual Fun Fair at Kilat Club, and, lost my voice at the 1975 Men’s Hockey World Cup when Kilat Club was a venue for critical matches.
“The saddest moment was watching smoke in the distance during the May 13 incident.
“My siblings and I are professionals now, all due to the upbringing we had. My two brothers and I studied at La Salle Brickfields, and, my sister at the Methodist Girls School.
“Now, I wake up around 5am every day, and I still read the New Straits Times and The Star (hard copy in Malaysia and online overseas). My daughters (aged 18 and 22) have been raised the same way, though they also read online news portals.
“Yet, I go through news sites and major global newspapers online, every day, too, to keep abreast of different editorial styles and perspectives.
“When I heard that the NEB Quarters were being demolished 10 years ago, I took my children to my childhood home and retrieved a few roof tiles and decorative glass cubes from the debris (now framed and hung on the wall in my home); even though the house had a compound around it, the house looked a lot smaller than when I was growing up in it.”
The writer is Yayasan Salam Malaysia chairman