Personally, this book is a walk down the memory lane for me. Kuala Terengganu always holds a special place in my heart. The people, the intriguing dialect, the mouth-watering delicacy and miles and miles of white sandy beaches in Terengganu calm the heart of many. Of course, the unforgettable MRSM Kuala Terenganu, Wakaf Tengah, Mengabang Telipot. That would need another posting in the future: only if I manage to jog my poor memory.
Where was I? Ah, the book review, of course. I read the flattering introduction right there at the bookstore (classic case of being an impatient person) and headed home with my head giddy in anticipation. The rest of the weekend was reduced to curling in bed in a vicious attempt to finish the book.
Awang Goneng (AG), whose real name is Wan A. Hulaimi kicked off his writing career after a brief stint in academic and jornalism. Originally trained in law, the man moved to a greener pasture as many law degree holders have done save for the dense ones who insist on practising the trade. The writer is currently residing in the cold and gloomy London with his adorable wife Kak Teh of Choc-a-Blog Blog.
Growing Up in Trengganu (GUiT) originates from AG’s postings in his blog; Kecek-Kecek. He started his blog in November 2004 and the rest, as they say, is history. From what I read, the publisher thought the postings are too good to just remain virtual in blogsphere and therefore they decided to publish it in an immortal form of a book.
When I first read GUiT the blogger-version, I couldn’t help but think that the postings, in some ways, reflect a research paper on Terengganu’s dialect; or as AG aptly calls it “Trengganuspeak”. But be warned, this is not some dull research papers, AG wittingly peppers his postings with cynical humor and satirical thought of his mind.
Reflective of its title, GUiT vividly narrates the childhood of its writer. AG weaves the story in astonishing details that feed your realm of imagination. He will hook you on the pages from his witty introduction right to the glossary at the back of the book. Whilst not being exactly a page-turner, this book is highly intriguing that you just need to know what else he has in store.
The writer captures the essential essence of satisfying the reader’s mind by describing the sense of smell, sound and taste of everything Terengganu. The setting and description of the characters in the book evoke the sense of belonging in you. You could almost touch the atmosphere in Terengganu from his unique writing style.
As you probably know by now, it is either you understand the “Trengganuspeak” or you just simply don’t. If you fall under the latter catagory – god bless you – kindly refer to the glossary I mentioned before.
If I have to choose, my personal favourite would be “Ice on the Gunny”. The story transports me back to my childhood when ice was covered with sawdust to prevent it from melting. Of course, this was before the advent of refrigerator in my kampong. AG also cruelly teases my taste bud by writing about the sinfully sweet nekbat, puteri mandi and lompat tikam. Ah, when is the next flight to Kota Bharu please?
Undoubtedly, GUiT is not an ordinary book. I am of the view that not many creative writers can narrate their childhood experience to be a charming read. Most of our growing up memories would be in an unfathomable patches and usually hard to recall.
This is not just a book, it is indeed a keepsake.