… and then you remember
May 16, 2012 bits and pieces
… something that was hidden from your memory for years. Something that actually factored in a major part of one’s life for at least five years of it. Something as significant as not being allowed to eat ice-cream as a child.
OK… I’m getting ahead of myself.
I was chatting the other day about being a sickly child. I’ll spare you the gory details. Anyway, during this exchange/conversation I explained that for about 5 years of my childhood I was forbidden to eat ice-cream… or drink iced water for that matter. I was undergoing some kind of treatment plan that negated consumption of anything that came out of a refrigerator.
Now, put this into context… especially considering the fact that…
1.) I was a child.
2.) I grew up in an equatorial climate.
I’m sure you’ll agree that just those two factors alone make the prohibition imposed on me pretty significant… and a definite sticking point to one’s memory. (Oh, the horror!) This course of treatment (for… what particular ailment… I can’t recall at the moment) was based on traditional Chinese medicine. OK, that much was always part of my memory recall. No problem there.
Anyway, the following day… in a conversation with another friend I began relating a story about Kellie’s Castle. These are ruins (click the link for more detail) on the outskirts of the hamlet of Batu Gajah. I recalled passing these ruins on family trips and being fascinated. It looked ominous, mysterious and a little spooky as the jungle enveloped it in reclamation… guaranteed to pique the interest of any child.
I began to savor telling the story… that after passing it so many times… my father, after countless requests from little old me finally stopped and we ventured into the ruins. Even though it was in the middle of the afternoon… it was spooky. No doubt tales of Kellie’s ghost still roaming the corridors coupled with the trees twisting their grip on the place fired the imagination even more.
I suddenly stopped mid-story… much to my friend’s chagrin. He pestered me a little to continue. I explained that I couldn’t because I was experiencing a memory gush… and I had to wait for a bit for it to settle.
You see… me not being allowed to consume anything cold and driving past Kellie’s Castle were connected. Sometimes we passed the ruins on our way to Sitiawan where we spent many a family vacation. More often than not we passed the castle because Batu Gajah was the primary destination. The treatment I was undergoing was actually administered by an old French Catholic Priest whose parish was located there. (Chinese medicine + French Catholic Priest = eh?)
For many years he had been stationed in rural China where he learned a branch of traditional Chinese medicine. During the turmoil of the cultural revolution he was secretly whisked out of the country and reassigned to the humble parish in Batu Gajah… where he lived, practiced his craft and tended to his ministry until his death.
I remember him taking my pulse as part of the examination. He would then ask me to spit into a paper cup. He would then disappear into his “laboratory” that housed hundreds of jars of bark, leaves, wood chips, etc. He would then emerge with two little bottles of clear liquid. One had a red twist top cap and the other black. Every morning and evening I was to drink a glass of water with a drop from one of the bottles diluted in it. And I was always reminded on these visits not to consume anything cold.
The thing is… we made the trek to Batu Gajah an average of 4 times a year for about 5 years. The treatment stopped after the old priest died. Not soon after… but about a year after. I guess he knew he was dying and had prepared a year’s supply for each of his patients… including me.
Now why would I not remember all that throughout all these years… at least until a couple of days ago? I’m glad I did though… and am thankful that two seemingly separate conversations were instrumental in unlocking that memory. So, I thought I’d better blog about it in case it slipped back into the corridors of memory oblivion.
BTW… the pics in this post are of Kellie’s Castle culled from various sources.