Every morning around 7.30ish, a young chap of 15 would make his way around the streets of Kampung Tunku on a bicycle that perhaps by now, is as antiquated as his way of doing business. It would not be a point of exaggeration if I were to say his rounds were eagerly waited for by the residents of the area, who would rush out of their house on hearing his calling tune which now resonates in my ear.
Somehow, over the 5 years or so the young chap plied his trade in the area, very few knew or bothered to ask of his name and he was constantly referred to as the Nasi Lemak boy. Strangely though, it was not his nasi lemak most craved for, but the kueh koci which was freshly made every morning and was as soft and sweet as any good kueh koci should be. It was over this same period that he, with his sometimes hoarse voice - perhaps due to sore throat or simply being unwell - he may have witnessed more changes to the housing area than the residents themselves did.
There was an empty piece of land that stretched perhaps 200 meters, hemmed in between a road and a large monsoon drain - the length between the two reaching no more than 50 meters. The elder of the children in the area grouped together to pull out the overgrown grass and weeds, then trampled on the ground in hope to make it decently flat. When they were done, a large portion of the empty land became a barren field of coarse reddish earth which sufficed as a small soccer field. And many more children started to join in the fun; "Who will help me bake a cake?" asked the hen.
As more and more people began taking a greater liking to the nasi lemak and kueh koci, the boy responded by adding more to his inventory in a new basket, in addition to the old one which he still use then. There were now kueh bom, pulut panggang, and kueh ketayap - long and greenish with coconut fillings mixed with gula melaka. Still, the kueh koci remained as the choice of pick.
Time flew by quickly, and with it, the children began to grow. An 8year old became 13, and the nasi lemak boy an adult. I cannot remember when he stopped plying his route, only to suddenly realise he no longer did. Between morning school and extra-curriculum activities, his soothing nasi lemak singing faded away for a very long spell, and of late reverberates again in my ears:
Na(3beats) - Si(staccato) - Le(2beats) - Mak(3beats),
Ku(2beats) - eh(3beats) - Ko(3beats) - ci(3beats).