It was today, around this time, thirty five years ago when they took my father (Ayah) away. For good.
Earlier that day, Ayah took me, my brother Nordin and my sister Nuridah to a Cantonese kung-fu movie, starred by Ti Lung at Bolkiah. As always, Ayah would sit separately from us, in the first class. Half way thorough the movie, Ayah’s name appeared on the silver screen. Somebody needed to see him. We continued watching the movie, thinking that a friend of Ayah might want to talk to him for a while.
When the movie came to its end, three of us went out to the spot where Ayah parked his car earlier, to meet him. He was not there. His car was nowhere to be seen. We thought, Ayah might have some type of emergency that he needs to attend to. So we waited. It was a long wait.
Then, we saw Ayah’s car approaching. My eldest brother Adnan was driving it. On the passenger seat, was a very serious scary looking man. I remembered telling Nordin, this man might be Ayah’s friend. I asked my brother Adnan for Ayah where about. He never answered me. It was dead silence. My sister Nuridah might have sensed something. She asked me to just keep quite. I obliged.
On reaching home at Kampung Telanai (where the school is now), I saw at least thirty people surrounding it. We were ushered into our room, all 10 of us, the siblings. We were not allowed to go out from the room even if nature calls. Ayah and Mama were separated from us. We can’t talk to them.
Those uninvited guests were busy ransacking every inch of our house, which included my room whih I shared with Nordin. Every thing was checked. When said everything, it really means everything, our cupboards, school bags, pencil boxes. Everything.
There was no conversation at all. All we have was instructions: sit there, sit here, stand there, stand here, given by the Special Branch (SB). I tell you, they all look very fierce. Macam babi muka durang… (They look like pig…)
Their BIG moment came. Somebody said that they are taking Ayah for questioning, for three days. Mama tried to pass a praying mat to Ayah but it was not allowed. According to one of the Special Babi officer, they will provide Ayah with the praying mat in their detention heaven. (Actually, the Special Babi never said heaven… Hehehe…)
That night, my first cousin, Bang Nan (Mahmud Basiuni), a taxi driver, are detained too. He was hand-cuffed at the BSB’s taxi stand, where he always waited for his costumer. Apart from being hand-cuffed, according to him, his head was covered with a black cloth. The Special Babi must felt Godly that day.
They were brought to Gadong. Ayah was put in room no. 1 while Bang Nan in room 15. The rooms has got no windows at all. Only four white walls and one bulb lighted 24 hours. There was nowhere you can tell the time of day once inside. There was no fan. Fresh air was only coming from a ½ inch opening under the door.
So much of: kami hanya menjalankan tugas… That was always the excuse. If you felt what you are doing is wrong, resign, stupid…
To be continued…