Awang Goneng Is In Town!

GUiT-manyToday, I met Uncle Awang Goneng at the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). Awang Goneng (a.k.a. Wan A. Hulaimi) grew up in Terengganu but later on moved to London, a place so far away from his homeland. His beautiful book ‘Growing Up In Trengganu’ (originated from his blog – was written to share with everyone about the life in Terengganu in the 60’s.

I attended ‘The Writing Mind’ workshop where Uncle Awang Goneng taught us some tips on writing. One of them which sticks in my mind was to increase your vocabulary skills – or in other words, never be afraid of using a dictionary. It reminds me of Prof. Muhammad Al-Mahdi’s ‘favourite assignment’. He would tell my AG - workshopclassmates and I to make a list of 20 hard words and remember all 60 words, it’s spelling and definitions. To make sure we memorised each of them, we shall have to take a test at the end of the week.

Uncle Awang Goneng also taught usĀ  to read aloud what we have written after finishing a piece of work. It helps us to correct unnoticeable small mistakes. This Jalan Kedai Payangwas also taught by Prof. Muhammad and since then, I made a huge improvement in my writing class.

But Uncle Awang Goneng was really sad to hear about the unacceptable act of the government to demolish a more than a century old shophouses row in our hometown, Kuala Terengganu. Such historic building should be kept and preserved such as those in

Aiman with AG

Penang and Malacca. But we were even shocked to know that Uncle Awang Goneng’s house in Terengganu was going to be demolished

too. I guess one day, Terengganu would be the only state in Malaysia to lose all of it’s history and heritage clue to the cruel act of the state government.

Before leaving, I took the opportunity to ask Awang Goneng to autograph in my diary. Thank you Uncle Awang Goneng (Uncle Wan).


Yesterday my little brother, Ahmad Ali asked dad if it will still rhymes if he change the wording in the ‘Pussy Cat’ poem to…

Pussy cat, pussy cat,
Where have you been,
I’ve been to London,
To see Awang Goneng.

Dad laughed and said yes it’ll rhymes perfectly but only if we read it in Trengganuspeak…

Pussy cat, pussy cat,
Where have you beeng,
I’ve beeng to Londeng,
To see Awang Goneng.

I wonder what Uncle Awang Goneng will say if he hears this ‘new’ nursery rhyme. We all had a very good laugh except for my poor little brother who can’t understand Trengganuspeak.

Trengganuspeak reminds me of Budu Spell (page 247-GUIT by Uncle AG). Mum said that it was so funny that she couldn’t stop laughing. I read it but I didn’t find it that funny until mum read it for me in the original Trengganuspeak. Only then I started laughing comparing budu (a type of sauce) to anak bbudu (tadpoles)!

Mum then asked me a question that I was not able to answer (and honestly I’m still confused about it- had to check with mama). What is the different between…

  1. Awang makang kambing; and
  2. Awang makang kkambing.

In Bahasa Malaysia both sentences spelt makan wrongly and looks the same; only in the second > the kambing (goat) was spelt wrongly; but in Trengganuspeak it means:-

  1. Awang eats (a) goat (mutton)
  2. Awang was eaten by (a) goat!

Wow!!! And I still can’t pronounce the word ‘buah khadeh’ right till this moment!

A Letter To Atuk (My Grandfather)

Assalamu Alaikum, Dearest Atuk,

We are really sad to see Atuk so weak and not as cheerful as Atuk used to be. It was only 3 months ago when Atuk was still very healthy and active.

Atuk, do you still remember the games we played when Aiman was a little girl? Atuk would be reading the newspapers while playing all sorts of games with me and suddenly he would declared ‘ Atuk menang!’ (atuk wins!), and I would scream ‘mana achi! (Unfair!) and would ran away sulking, but after a while came back asking Atuk to play another game. Atuk would never say no whenever Aiman asked Atuk to play; it doesn’t matter if Atuk doesn’t knows the rules of the game… in fact Atuk never bothers about the rules! We played congkak, chess, checkers and a lot more…

Whenever Atuk came for a visit, Atuk buys roti canai and lontong from a restaurant nearby for breakfast. On the last day, before atuk would be going home to Kuala Terengganu, Atuk would buy extra roti canai and mama would heat them up for our breakfast with cold sardine straight from the fridge. When we finished the roti canai, we would be asking Atuk to come back to KL for more roti canai!

Today, Atuk hardly speaks to Aiman. To make it worst, Aiman do not know how and what to say to Atuk. Aiman wish to make Atuk happy and hear the laughter when Atuk tease us. Atuk, please get better. We miss Atuk’s jokes and funny ‘magic’ tricks. We love you very much, Atuk!

Love, Aiman and adik-adik.

Atuk after the operation

Note: My Grandfather is a wonderful man. He studied in Egypt and England; and worked (as the then Prime Minister’s personal representative to UNHCR) in Europe mainly in London, Geneva and Vienna. Apart from Bahasa Malaysia (Malay Language) and English, he speaks Arabic and German and a little Japanese. I’m so proud of him and I hope to be able to write about him one day.