..he’s my brother.
We’re 4 years apart, Ali and I. In between us, Mom gave birth to a beautiful baby boy but he died when he was about 6 months old. Ali had no idea that he had an older brother once (he knew about it a little later).. but he’s definitely a special gift for my parents. For all the sadness and patience, now God had replaced their son.
Ali and I share profound memories of childhood together. Although we fought with.. played with.. and sometimes just ignored each other while growing up, we were raised in a close-knit family and friends that come and go throughout our lives. As a policeman, our Dad moved several places around the country and so we followed.. and enriched our experiences and easily adapted to our surroundings everywhere we went.
In the 80’s.. when TV started at 4.30pm with Qur’anic verses and Negaraku song, we both filled our time “doing our own things” or sneaked out to play in the village nearby if we had school in the morning.
And when I say, “doing our own things”, I mean- we really did a lot of things- indoor and outdoor. There was no “boring” time for us! For instance, Ali would took a long time playing in the bathroom with little soldiers and ships and aeroplanes.. talking alone as if narrating the wars between the air forces in the small tub. If he could not use the toilet (coz Mom wanted to wash the clothes), he would use the guest bedroom as his base. While I would be on my desk, creating my own magazine or drawing my cartoons, Ali would find time when he could steal it and copied the drawings and claimed to his friends that it was all his idea. We both enjoyed the same thing, basically.. but he was always the ‘wild’ one.
Being a disciplinarian, Dad had certain rules and regulations especially about our responsibilities around house- feeding the cats, chickens, rabbits.. watering the plants.. clearing the longkang when it was stuck with God-knows-what; Ali was only too happy to cycle to the bread factory and a restaurant nearby to pick up leftovers to feed the chickens and geese. While I had to cover for him doing everything else because when he got back from his little trip, he went and played with his friends. Boys will always be boys. Now Ali has 3 sons.. well, perhaps he would see a bit of him in each of the boys after all.
I remember when it rained heavily outside, we would play house with the thin comforter sheet became the roof over the dining chairs. Because our younger sister was still small, I would play the ‘ghost’ outside the roof and scared her until she cried. Sometimes, I played ‘pop quiz’ with them. We imitated the TV show that gave money with every right questions answered. Usually, I would create the questions and the prize would be the money given by anyone who came to our house to me (and I was supposed to distribute the money to them anyway).
Then came one sibling after another.. and just when we thought we ended with the youngest brother in the family, came the last girl (7th ‘wonder’) when Mom reached 44yrs old. Throughout the frame of time, Ali and I had somehow grown apart when I started my secondary school in hostels and later college years.
We’ve grown into two people with different experiences, views and thoughts now. But I guess, in our hearts.. we’re still deeply rooted in the idea of creating our own make-believe, crazy fairyland where everything is possible if we keep on dreaming.. despite the reality of our lives. And who knows that he has taken that ‘idea’ quite literally. If one attended his recent 2nd SOLO ART EXHIBITION, one would see what I mean. And I would love to share with you what I mean here.
Maybe that’s why we could go on and on talking about any matters that came across our minds whenever we met. I would always love to hear his thoughts and comments on my works.. and he welcomes different perspective of views from me.
To Ali Nurazmal, my brother.. we have seen so much, we have gone through so much.. and yet we have so much more in front of us.
I must say that I’m proud of what you’ve achieved with your determination and hard-headed mind and sensitive soul. We all are.
Congratulations.. for your successful 2nd solo show.