He may not be the best looking lead actor ever. Nor is he the most loved. But he is, one of the finest actor around that I've come to like, hate, respect and admire.
Sometime in 1975 when I had just reached home from school, my dad asked whether I would like to see a movie with him. I was quite surprised when he asked as normally he would take emak with him. But that day being a school day and emak was teaching, I decided why not. Further, I took into account of an episode when I was about 6, and my dad asked me a question while we were out with the family. My mind was rather preoccupied thinking about food, just as any 6year old would when he is hungry, and I just shook my head and said no. At that point of time too, my English vocabulary was pitifully low. Anyway, when we were on our way home later, I began making noise but stopped abruptly when my dad raised his right hand and said "I asked if you were hungry just now and you said no!" And my mind went "So, that's what hungry means".
Back to the movie dad took me to, it was 'The French Connection II', and the first time I saw Gene Hackman acting. Even then I thought him as strange, for he was unlike any other lead actor I was accustomed to - handsome, tall, charming, blah blah. But I ignored it then as the story was good and the acting, superb!
Over the years after that, I watched more of his movies and found myself disliking him for the roles he played. Needless to say, he starred as a villain in many movies which include as the President of US, who covets his best friend's wife, and later accidentally killed her. Though I know he was just acting his part, I found myself hating the man, and his role.
Earlier this evening, emak and I watched the tail-end of 'The Chambers' which Hackman played the role of a man sentenced to the gas chambers. Ironically, though the role was still of a 'baddie', Hackman was at his best. While watching, emak and I helped ourselves to 2 guava fruits (jambu batu) which a neighbour gave. That, and the death scene of the movie reminded me of an old friend who passed away sometime in 1990.
Allahyarham Hazim Harun Hashim, was a close friend during primary school. Though he had a muscular body (even then I envisioned him as the local version of X-Men's Colossus), he was kind and soft spoken. As we were in different classes, we would normally meet every other day, and together with a Chew Kwee Tat, would wrestle each other just as in the Wrestling shows of old which had wrestlers such as Tiger Jit Singh, Killer Kolwalski, Big Moose something and many more big names I cannot remember now. We were kids, and we were having fun the way many kids would - acting out like our heroes. We became separated as we entered our secondary years, each going to a different school.
Sometime in 1989, we were reacquainted briefly when I stumbled upon him in his office at the NST. Can't exactly remember his position there, but he was still the same person I used to wrestle with. That, was the only meeting we had as adults - 2 good friends separated for more than 10 years, only to be separated again, this time for good. Not long after that, I read in the papers that he died due to asthma-related heart attack. To this day, I still remember his face and smile when we met.
The guava I had just now, reminded me of him as visiting his house one day during those early years, I ate, for the very first time, guava with a sprinkle of salt.
Thank you my friend for the memories. May Allah reward you for your kindness and the warmth of your friendship. And may you be placed together with people of faith. Al-Fatehah.