Penang: A Note from the Streets

I am currently spending my time in Penang, to be precised, in Seberang Jaya. Both my parents are away; my mom is in Genting for a week while my dad is off to Trolak for four days. So here I am, spending my time in my uncle’s house. My aunt’s is a full time housewife – which is good, both in my learning process (which I will explain soon) and to see the lives of my people – the real people, not ideas.

My aunt is a housewife, a good one of course, and just like my father, she is very much of a people person – ‘peramah’ or ‘ramah mulut’ we normally call, and yeah, we talk most of the time. This morning I followed her to the market (haha..that is how bored I am) – well, good for me, to know different species of fish and for what recipes they can be used for, and getting to know the people. The people, who suffered from the price hike of almost everything. We went to this seller of coconut milk, and they chit-chatted and joked ‘ You could get coconut milk for 50 cents during Mahathir’s time, but in Pak Lah’s time – no way!’. People are suffering I can see. The man from whom my aunt bought onions even asked my aunt whether she wanted to know for what extra costs he has to pay if he doesn’t increase the price per kg of those onions : the fuel for transportation, processing costs and all will burden him – yes, increase in food price is inevitable.

My aunt, being very ‘peramah’ introduced me (as someone who just came back from overseas) to at least four persons – and one joked (again, those cheerful men selling coconut milk) – what am I going to cook to day and when my aunt said I don’t cook (honest she is) , he laughed and made sounds like ‘Isk..isk..’. FINE! What is wrong with being 23 and not cooking? I have a good reason not too, anyway.

My aunt mentioned a few times about the safety – the lack of it. I think that is a major concern of the people right now. Even me, living in the suburban area feel the effect. Two or three years ago, my dad would just leave the front door unlocked early in the morning to go to work (with me sleeping inside) and now I have to lock both the grill and the sliding door all the time. That’s me, living in a place with the postcode 02400 Beseri (thanks to MRSM Beseri for making this place heard and known). What about my aunt who lives in a place like Seberang Jaya? She doesn’t even have the gut to go out a few metres away from her front gate in daylight.

Too bad if you cannot even feel secure in your own house. You might say that – it is a city, a town, that’s a normal concern. But even in the kampungs it is not safe anymore. People come to take your money away from you – legally and illegally. Of course, they are bad people everywhere, but sometimes we must take a look on why is this happening.

The general rule is that the poorer the people are, the higher is the crime rate. Not all poor people are bad, but as a hadith says, poverty can bring people into the state of ‘kufr’ (mafhum) – Desperation can bring out the worst in people – and sometimes even the unthought-of. Even my aunt who is a 54 years old stay-at-home mom knows this and says – as the price of basic things become more and more expensive (at that time, we were talking about the price of 10kg of rice – previously RM28, now RM38! Think about those who have 6-7 mouths to feed everyday) expect more crimes to occur. Well said I guess. Even when it comes to hudud law, theft under such desperation (nothing to eat for example) are not punished using the controversial hand amputation procedure.


A few more stories to come..about the people. My people, and most probably, yours too.

p.s. I am having sweet sour fish and my favourite gulai pisang today.



  1. Thanks Afni for your story, as if I was there at the market, I miss her huhu
    she is very2 smart, thats why she knows everythg 😉

  2. last summer break before heading to the job market inshaallah 🙂

    smart she is. i told her you miss her. 😉 she’s cooking asam pedas, ikan keli goreng, and peria for me today. don’t be jealous ok?

  3. salam…
    ko kat Malaysia ek..
    rindu kat ko..
    lama tak dgr kabar..
    rindunye…check blog asri nampak blog ko..

  4. wah.. dah officially habis ke ni? congratz~

    p/s: saya tidak pernah menjejakkan kaki ke pulau pinang. bila la agak2nya yer?

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