Tangga Bradley

12 October 2008
My pathetic garden at home
11:45 p.m.

Quietness reigns: you could almost hear the sound of the wind. I am relatively undone; quite unsure what bothers this old, decrepit heart of mine.

The frangipani, despite my best effort, keeps leaning to the right, threatening menacingly to cross over to the neighbour’s side of the fence. The jasmine insists to grow as it pleased with branches soaring all over the wrong direction. I give up.

Late this evening, the boy quaffed his drink mightily, stopped midway to gulp fresh air and said, “Mommy, Man nak play dengan Bradley, boleh?” I haven’t the faintest idea what this linguistically-challenged two-year-old meant, but I am guessing it must have been one of the characters from Cartoon Network that he is so obsessed with lately, so much so that he retains sole possession of the Astro’s remote control.

Wonder of wonders, the name struck a memory chord in my head. It lingered on my mind right until this moment with the pencil and the badly crumpled moleskine.

I was born and I spent my entire childhood in Kuala Krai, Kelantan. In fact, my early adolescence was spent there, too, until the day I packed my bag to live a chapter of my life in a boarding school, some 200 miles from home.

Kuala Krai, by myriad of definitions, is a sleepy hollow. Descriptions of the town and my life here, are purely based on my rusty recollection, circa the eighties.

The town was made up of rows of shop houses; old train station with an adjacent management building – where my late father used to work; on old bungalow which used to serve as Post Office; a rather large police station and its staff quarters; depleted public library which stocked outdated books and magazines; a district hospital on top of a small hill across the man-made lake where I was born; a quaint market with poor hygiene.

I used to cycle with all my might across the narrow, tarmac roads of this sleepy hollow, popping my head once in a while at the wooden windowsill of Ayah’s office. Ayah would pretend of having the shock of his life upon seeing the sight of my sweaty face and endearingly asked, “Why are you cycling like a boy? Did you mother know you came this far?” Of course, the rebellious little me lied through her teeth and said ‘no’ to both questions.

Never once, during my cycling regime, I did not stop at a sacred spot: Tangga Bradley (the Bradley Stairs).

History christened the birth of Tangga Bradley in 1927 – which was subsequently named after the then Kuala Krai’s administrator, Sir Bradley – as a place to measure the water level of Sungai Kelantan during the monsoon season. Tangga Bradley also serves at  mini jetty for the locals around the embankment of the river to unload their agricultural produce to be sold at the market.

Somehow, one of the hottest bloggers at the moment, Tukar Tiub, gives a different purpose to Tangga Bradley: it had been used as a spot to sight the Syawal moon to determine the arrival of Eid Mubarak. The said blogger also laments that the tradition is now dead and forgotten; to which he ends his post rather disturbingly with, “bangsa tanpa tradisi tidak melahirkan tamadun.” I digress.

I would stare at the flowing Kelantan river for hours on end. Sometimes, I brought a book, counted seventeen steps down, sat at the far left end corner of the step underneath a tree shade and read my book to the exclusion of others until the sky was fused with rays of sunset.

I could see, from a distance, life was going full speed at the floating raft house (rumah rakit) with pots and pants clacking, clothes flying with the river breeze on the clothesline and children chasing each other from raft to raft.

At Tangga Bradley, I first found the serenity of loneliness. I formed an intimate bond with my soul that I cherished to this day; the same way I adore this pathetic garden of mine.

But life – and as it is unavoidably so – swayed my course away from Tangga Bradley. I still think about the place fondly and, if time permits, I would love to return to the seventeenth step of the sacred place: preferably alone.


*Image of Tangga Bradley stolen from here*


19 thoughts on “Tangga Bradley

  1. *i like your attachment to this Tangga Bradley. like i use to say, ‘warm fuzzy feeling u like to hate’, but this one just stops at ‘warm fuzzy feeling’. =)*

    Dear Ayu,

    🙂 you are just too kind, that’s all…

  2. Elviza, my ‘telephatic connection’ with you is getting weirder by the moment. Kuala Krai has been on my mind since the fasting month. My late grandfather was Kuala Krai born, bred and buried.

    I am harbouring a wish to go to Kuala Krai to visit his grave, at least once in my lifetime, before the year is out. I was told it’s in Guchil Lima. As it stands today, my maternal uncle is the only one who knows where the site is.

    At this stage of my life, I somehow feel the need to reach out to my Kelantan connection (my mother was born in Pasir Mas). My children know nuts about the maternal site of my family. Their entire lives thus far revolve around their father’s (Alor Star) and mother’s (Kuala Kangsar, paternal) connections.

    I hope my wish is realised soon.

    Kak Puteri,

    Oh this is so surreal. I do know the graveyard you are talking about. I have been looking for your email in the blog to drop you my mobile number… alas, to no avail. Can I have your email please?

  3. You madam, write like the river breeze. Soothing, calming and endearing.

    I feel like am there @ Tangga Bradley. Never even been to Kelantan before!

    Am bookmarking this page. Thank God for Facebook that I found your link.



    Thank you for dropping by. Hope to see you here again

  4. *Sigh*

    You did it again. This time even better.

    What lah is the secret?


    Thank you for the kind words. There is no secret, I just write as I feel. Some people don’t like it and told my husband so. See if I care!

  5. Chelle,

    Aku rasa keserabutan aku hilang membaca entry ini.

    Terima kasih!


    Kenapa keserabutan aku belum ilang nih D? Kau tulih pulak ah!

  6. Elviza,

    Whenever my boss scream at me, I just come here. There s always something soothing, something consoling for me to feast my heart on.

    Really hope to see you in person. No funny stuff, seriously.

    Kuda Lari,

    Thank you for your kind words.

  7. The time:
    When the only phone in my kampong was in the Wakil Rakyat House and price of rice was bonecrunching RM1.00 per gantang
    The Place:
    A remote fishing village on Trg coast
    The Perspective :
    A boy of 6 years old.

    The responsibility of a boy of six was not much except to the chore of entertaining himself with what kampong got to offer.The time when playstation inventor himself was still in his mother womb and the only handphone was the one you made with your fingers.Creativity was horned to the fullest and expanded with the wild of a child’s imagination.A fallen coconut stalk squeezed between his thigh soon draw similar crowd with similar imagination ,would turn it into an imaginary bus with the crazy driver ‘driving’at a breakneck speed .The fallen ‘passengers’ would draw loud laughters and without fail they would demand their ‘birthright’ seat on the bus to nowhere ,which is the distant of 4pm and sunset or until someone get injured falling from the bus.
    The ladies happy that they had time to themselves would exchange stories and anecdotes knowing fully that that the kids were safe playing a runaway bus as kidnapping,snatch thieves or disposed filthy syringes of drug addicts were not part of the picture of their time.They heard of man’s landing on the moon,Mr Kennedy demise , Vietnam war and of P Ramlee through the the only radio in the kampong , but those were the stories that bear no relevant to them as much as the news of bonecrunching price rise of the staple rice from 0.80cent to a ringgit pergantang.
    The worried look was palpable as that would mean lesser food on the table ,smaller portion for everyone and less money to buy any luxury of life the like of Popinjay bathing soap or new batteries for the radio. The fisherman knew that he got to work longer hours , the trishaw riders ride longer and the attap makers ,more attaps.
    That was the worries and everyone was badly affected except that this particular couple has nothing to offer to cushion the sudden price rise as they were an odd couple with two little orphans to feed. Their orphaned granchilds were left to them as they were their next of kins, became part of the household in their ramshack hut . The couple was Pak Daud, a blind man with an able body and the wife ,Mek Yang with one polio leg beside her two all seing eyes and sharp mind. Pak Daud became the Ying and Mek Yang ,his Yang

  8. There is something about your story that touches my heart.

    Not that it was a great place to write about but you did make it sound “great”.

    But few times I left a comment here, I didnt see it on the page. Why lah?


    Sorry, I ll check the spam bag.

  9. Elv,

    I can just imagine the tangga bradley. The way you painted the image with word is just amazing.

    Don’t make us wait long for the next posting.


    As usual, you are being too kind with your compliments. Good day, Sir!

  10. Last december, when the floods hit Kuala Krai, I went to Tangga Bradley (aka Tangga Krai) for the first time. It was early morning and the water looked menacing.
    My cousin takes the boat from there to get to the school where he teaches. I would love to try that one day.


    I absolutely believe you. The river is menacing every time the monsoon season comes. I wouldn’t give the boat ride a try if I were you. 🙂

  11. jauh dak ngan rumah zhang toi?


    Rasanya tak jauh lah. His father used to own (probably still is) one of the shops in town at the same row of the old post office.

  12. Hi Elviza,

    I found your blog through Cendana addict recovery blog. That was Friday last. Then, I spent the whole weekedn reading your old entry. I cant believe I never knew this blog before.

    The GF got curios of what am reading and I showed her. Now she s reading your old posts in 2007. I believe she also now is your fan.

    Good writing here.

  13. Pingback: Krai, my beloved country « Write Away

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