Black and White Photos

So here I am at 7am in the morning for another late shift for the fourth night in the row. Fourth night that my father is in a half-conscious state. The good thing is, the rest of my family has more or less recovered from their respective illnesses and are therefore able to lift the burden off my shoulders a little. The bad thing is, my body clock is so fucking screwed up I think I need to send myself to the watch repair shop.

holding on

My old man is still holding on

The only reason I’m doing the late night shift is because I’m unable sleep the normal hours anymore after four days of sleeping at 8am and waking up at 3pm. Funny. Last time I did that was after a drunken night out partying at the Varga Lounge back in Perth.


I think this was more fun.

I went through my father’s old photo album today.


The rest of this entry was removed due to privacy issues. If you still like to read it please send me an e-mail.


Its always interesting to do something like that. Seriously, there’s nothing like watching your own parents sporting some horrendously bad fashion that would make you cringe if someone were to wear the same thing today.


It is a very cliche thing for our parents to say to us “In our days, we didn’t have it so easy…” But in my father’s case, I totally believe him.


No bricks and mortar – 12 years growing up in a Kampung like this

In the early 50s, there’s a small Malay kampung near Kuching called Kampung Penambai. Six families were living in this kampung, and the Sia family was the only Chinese one there. My grandparents worked for a charcoal company for long hours but got paid very little. If it weren’t for circumstances that forced my father to move to Kuching, hey, I might be still typing this entry from a shack in Kampung Penambai.

In amongst his siblings, my father, being the eldest, was the de facto leader of the house. As feared as he was, he genuinely cared for his siblings and provided them with opportunities they never thought they could have. Even 50 years later today, he is still seen as a great leader in many people’s eyes.

my dad

Pa, how come you’re using your belt for a necktie?

There weren’t any Chinese schools in Kampung Penambai. In order to receive his primary school education, my father would have to travel down to Kuching on a little sampan boat – the only possible way to get to Kuching then. It would take 4 hours to get to Kuching on a good day, and up to 8 hours on a bad day. My father had spent a good part of the year away from his family whilst he stayed with his aunt in Kuching. The only time he was able to reunite with his family was during school holidays, where my grandmother would cook sumptous feast to welcome my father back.

my dad

My father holding a miniature version of himself. In those days they don’t have Photoshop, so…

It is very characteristic of my father to be hardworking. In the mid-60s, his mother (my grandmother) and younger sisters were working tirelessly at the rubber plantation supporting their family and giving my father money for his education. To alleviate their burden, my father in his spare time would work as a tutor (where I got my tutoring genes!) and as a construction labourer.

There were fringe benefits though. The constuction job got him a six-pack and a tan body, whereas the tutoring job got him my mother. ๐Ÿ™‚

my dad

In those days, toilet paper was kinda expensive. Having a long hair had more uses than you think. ๐Ÿ˜‰

My father managed to get himself into all the good schools growing up and he was always scoring number one in his class. At the end of his secondary education in 1971, he was presented with an opportunity to study overseas – a privilege at the time. As tempted as he was with that offer, he turned it down, knowing that the cost of him leaving home would be unbearable for the family.

my dad

My father, at my age, was a high school teacher.

His first professional job out of school was as a teacher for a year – where one of his students ended up as his business partner today. Then for the next nine years he worked as a salesperson for ICI Paints and a aluminium company. In addition to that, he was also selling general insurance on the side.

my dad

An ICI Paints photo in black and white. Oh, the irony…

My father was still dating my mother then. I was told that my mother was his first lover and vice versa.

my dad at cameron highlands

This is from a set of photos he sent to my mother when he was working with ICI Paints in West Malaysia. My father has really nice handwriting. That’s one thing I didn’t inherit from him. ๐Ÿ™

My father was significantly poorer than my mother’s family back then. My mom told me once they went to the cinemas together. They walked to the cinema’s candy store, and my father asked her what she wanted. My mother happily pointed out the Horlicks candy which costed very little. Being tight-on-budget he hesitated and tried to persuade her to buy something else. But my mother didn’t take it kindly so she ended up pulling a long face for the rest of the evening. I thought was silly, ‘cos now my father would have bought her a swimming pool filled with Horlicks candies if he wanted to.

my parents wedding

In those days, they didn’t have Inspiration Alan Salon to do my dad’s hair.

My parents got engaged in 1973 and 2 years later, he married my mother. I thought my mother looked so pretty in this picture. For some reason I didn’t find her as pretty when she yelled at me for not cleaning up my bedroom. Hmm…

my father's workplace

In those days, they don’t have Internet so you can’t slack off at work reading blogs.

In 1978, my father took a huge risk by mortgaging his house, his car, borrowed a huge sum of money from the bank ot start his own company. I shall not disclose the name and nature of the company and all that. But it was the best move he has ever made. The rest as they say, is history.

The company boomed throughout the 80s and 90s, and he created hundreds of jobs for the people of Kuching. His employees loyalty to him is undeniably his strongest asset. As a matter of fact, his first employee is still working for him even until today.

my father's workplace

Success. My father’s very first car – a Volvo.

I’m born in 1982, and growing up I hate to admit that my time spent with him was little. My father was a self-confessed and true workaholic. He’s so passionate about his line of work, its almost as if his company is his other family. Whilst other people work 9 to 5, my worked 9 to 12 – that’s 12am, not 12pm. The only time we get to spend the full day with him was on Sundays.

my father's workplace

In the early days, my father had to travel to many ulu-ulu places to find business

That does not mean that he neglects his family or anything like that. On the contrary, we know from the things he did for us, that we’re the most important part of his life.

Perhaps my fondest memory of him was when I was in Secondary 3. Exams are coming and every night I’d be in the living room “memorising” my books and notes till 2 or 3am in the morning. My father saw what I was going through. Every night, he’d buy me kolo mee from KY Cafe for supper, ensuring I don’t starve myself late into the night, and also ensuring both my brains and my guts grow large.

my father's workplace

This is what got me through my Secondary 3 examination

I swear to you that’s the best tasting kolo mee I’ve ever had. That’s only because once upon a time, my father personally bought it for me in my time of need. Thank you, dad.

43 Replies to “Black and White Photos”

  1. Your father is a very handsome man. And that pose – the mini-me one? I have seen them in old albums before. It was the ‘in’ thing back then, I guess.

  2. hey! this is interesting.. ehhe i’ve been digging the old photo albums too.. hmmmmm i should do this too.. ehhehehehe ;p *muaks hairy legs*

  3. this has me really tearing. :'(
    my parents have pictures like that too – mom with long hair, grandparents holding miniature versions of their kids in their hands, psychedelic flowers with the person’s face in the centre and then repeated in a hexagonal shape. the whole thing’s from an era that’s past. too far behind to go back to it too.

  4. hey. take care man. and i hope your father get well soon. meanwhile, take care of yourself and your family=)

  5. And I thought Lat was pulling my leg with the story of mini-me in photos.
    It’s not the matter of how long you live but what you do with the time that’s given to you and i think your father has done very well.
    All the best!

  6. Hey, this is a touching story there.
    Well, elder folks usually had their own story behind, just waiting for youngsters like us to dig it out.

  7. goshh… *sob* *sob*… this reminds me sooo much of my mom now… I wish she’s here…
    spend as much time with your dad as possible… i’m sure u’re very proud of ur dad by the way u describe him and i can assure u that ur dad is very proud of u too… he’s a strong man being able to hold up this long…

  8. wah.. Uncle Sia was just as handsome as you:)
    LOL..yeah, I thought of Lat too when I saw the mini-me pic.:)
    A very nice post, Kenny. Very nice. Perhaps when your dad’s feeling abit better, you could show him some of the pics and have a laugh together?

  9. This post knocked me back as I always get nostalgic about the 70’s, even when I’m not around yet.
    Thank you for sharing Kenny.

  10. a very handsome father and a great hero…got tissu? >.a very handsome father and a great hero…got tissu? >.a very handsome father and a great hero…got tissu? >.a very handsome father and a great hero…got tissu? >.a very handsome father and a great hero…got tissu? >.a very handsome father and a great hero…got tissu? >.a very handsome father and a great hero…got tissu? >.a very handsome father and a great hero…got tissu? >.

  11. Hey dude, great story. I can see where you get your sence of humor from, your dad’s writting on the picture gave it away. With nice picture of your long haired mom on the wall, you dad don’t need internet lah…ooops, may be that’s not her:)…I though our family car is in the picture..KA2144
    Take care.

  12. Aww, mr sia…so touching….I can feel the tears coming out liao….
    I think it’s amazing how you take the poignant moments in life and make them humorous as well; it’s a gift, man.

  13. Reading this makes me think about my dad. I’m getting a little nostalgic..
    Anyway, all the best to you and your family. Hang in there.

  14. such a touching story. i guess in our parents generation they really worked hard to achieve what they have today. ive heard sort of the same from dad too.
    mmm those VARGA DAYS were fun! eeeks. i can see me in there =p and i wasnt drunk too
    man i miss kolomee..

  15. I sincerely hope your father will get better.
    I am christian, and a RC to boot, though I don’t really prescribe to what I’ve been thought, I’ll pray to whatever gods are listening that your father will get better..
    Don’t give up hope and take care of yourself as well.

  16. ok..oK..OKรขโ‚ฌยฆ.youรขโ‚ฌโ„ขve made your points; you love the kolo-mee and you love your Dad. But did you get the Volvo? Or is he still going through other submissions from other siblings. I am going to be honest with you, your chance of getting that Volve is slim if your fondest moment is that delicious bowl of kolo-mee. Can you think of those moments when he had to wipe your ass when you were a sweet little innocent baby, รขโ‚ฌยฆ.and till the last day in Form-Five. Any picture?

  17. Peter + Sashi + Kenneth, my pleasure. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Lilian, I somehow predicted you might comment on my dad’s suaveness. heh heh.
    FF, *cough* I’m allergic to sarcasm. Or maybe I’m just allergic to felines. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Penny, kissing my hairy legs isn’t exactly a good idea you know?
    shanks, I wonder how much they paid for that. Btw, I was semi-inspired to do this entry based on your Bruce Lee’s tribute. Strange but true.
    anantya, seems like the 70s was such a fun time. I had Teresa Teng and the Beatles playing in my head whilst I was doing this post.
    haze + mac, thanks. I’m taking care.
    kampung gal, what did Lat say about mini-me? Care to point me in the right direction?
    CLF, yea I swear to you I look at my parents differently once I learnt about their past. It somehow made me appreciate them a little better.
    Annabella, sorry. Didn’t mean to touch you the wrong way…. I mean… *cough* touch your heart the wrong way.
    Jayelle, me? handsome? *blush*
    NSDS3, go listen to some Beatles now. ๐Ÿ™‚
    kahsoon, I smell sarcasm. Heh heh.
    cass, I like KY’s noodles a lot but dammit I hope they change their name. KY Cafe always seem to remind me of KY Jelly.
    e, hahaha… yea that’s not her on the calendar OF COURSE! tsk tsk. Funny you spotted it. You got sharp eyes, my friend. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Schnorng, I smell sarcasm. Again!
    lotise, ‘warm dashes of humour’. I like that.
    thquah, sorry. ๐Ÿ™
    michaelooi, i hope he gets better indeed.
    iblogme, its always nice to walk down memory lane.
    chrissie, you weren’t drunk YET. heh. You can see naomi and mayni were flushed red though. Haha.
    Michelle, hearing others say a prayer for my dad always makes me feel good and lifts my hopes up. Although my dad is Buddhist, I enjoy listening to prayers said to him by his Christian friends only because they were always spoken with such passion and vigor. I don’t mind other religion, so long as they don’t preach to me.
    Saffraan, eeks! I hope he gets better but I *don’t* think I wanna show him how I flaunt my coconuts! Haha
    suspiciousbastard, yea he’s always been a very driven man. I think the very sad thing is that he’s been working so hard all his life, and just when he was about to retire, take it slow and enjoy life, he was struck down by this illness.
    Pope, hmm… but the last thing I’m thinking of is getting his car. He’s still living and breathing you know.

  18. great post. there’s some kinda family feud going on among the children of my step-great grandma, nobody wants to take care of her after the last bit of her bank account’s sucked dried and she’s like a pingpong ball now. so sad. your dad is really lucky to have a son like you.

  19. little did you know that the kolo mee enlarged more than just your brains and guts… it also provided you with your proudly displayed big b… or did you inheirit that off your father?
    not sure if ‘get well soon’ is the best line for this, but hope everything turns out for the better.

  20. *sob*
    I want to go hug my daddy now!!!!!
    Sigh. My parents live in JB. I live in Singapore. We see each other one night every 3-4 weeks.

  21. aww….that’s such a lovely story *sniff sniff* and your mom’s really pretty in the wedding photo. Hope your dad gets better soon!

  22. i am reading this after your announcement of your dad’s demise…i’m overwhelmed right now…
    this is a brilliant tribute to your dad, and i am sure he loved you very much and vice versa.
    he is proud of you, definitely.

  23. it has made me ponder…bout me n my family too…
    Thx for sharing his n your story, and this is indeed a great tribute to your dad.

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