Posts Tagged ‘The Stories of the Scissors Sharpener’s Daughter’

A sobering Malaysian saga

188, Hugh Low Street – The Stories of the Scissors Sharpener’s Daughter written by Ipohgal 2013.

This is not a story of conquerors or industrialists who shattered the course of a civilization or something like that but rather of the stuff that Malaysia is made of – of small people who had a big strong heart to work hard to bring a better future for the family and the country. Ipohgal, an avid blogger, has earned another feather to her cap. Now, she is an author and this is her maiden publication.

It traced to a time when it was peaceful and safe where children could play in the streets without a care. They did not need expensive gadgets to pass their time but rather they used their ingenuity to improvise. To give a nostalgic twang to her book, Ipohgal managed to capture a few pictures of the inside and outside the building that she knew as home. Coincidentally, the Indian eatery that she refers to ‘Kedai Nasi Ganja’ is the same one whose owner’s son (deceased) was my brother-in-law’s best friend.

The book starts by tracing the birthplace of her parents and the circumstances that brought them to Malaya. Her paternal grandfather, fleeing from the Qing Dynasty, landed in Batu Gajah with his young village headmaster’s daughter wife. He built a reputation as an excellent bean curd maker. In those days, if you wanted a helping hand in your business, you just contacted your people in China and they would send you, not maids but rather maidens to be your wife. Like that, her Grandpa got himself a third wife after the second one got raped en route to Malaya and fell into depression. There is a funny part where the first wife avenges the husband through the grandchildren by cajoling them to get their grandfather broke by asking for this and that!

Kedai nasi kandar 'ganja', aptly named for   the addictive quality of the food. Customers   do not mind queueing long to be served!

Kedai nasi kandar ‘ganja’, aptly named for
the addictive quality of the food. Customers
do not mind queuing long to be served!

After panning through some harrowing moments during WW2, her father moved out of Batu Gajah to 188, Hugh Low Street, Ipoh to start a coffee shop. This shop was witness to many eventful events in the writer’s life. Her parents were married and all her childhood memories were in that simple shop.

The book goes on to innumerate many significant events that happened in her life – her memory of playing near the drain of her home, of a time she fell into the drain, her first exposure to the work peeping tom, her exposure to movies, the interesting places of leisure in Ipoh at that time, of the various tenants and characters who rented rooms in the building. A great proportion of the book is spent on the most important moment of anyone’s life, the schooling years.

Thanks to her stubborn mother, the father relented and Ipohgal received English education, unlike her elder siblings. Bad times befell on the family in the early 70s when like an avalanche, barrage of misfortunes fell on them. The family savings were exhausted when two close relatives where inflicted with aggressive terminal cancers. To add salt on wound, the shop license was suspended. Her father had to give up the shop and had to use his resources to support the family. That is when he learn the art of scissors and knife sharpening and carve a name for himself as Ipoh’s famous scissors sharpener.

She further narrates the many fond and sometimes unpleasant moments of her schooling life, especially in primary school. She soon discovered about discrimination and class segregation.

All good things must end. The last few chapters were melancholic as it describes the passing of her parents in such descriptive and touching manner. Their home is now in unkempt and is in a depilatory condition, occupied by foreigners. Another topic that keeps popping up every now and then is the ability of the author and some of her relatives who had an eye to be able to see visions of the death!

A light enjoyable read that reminds all its readers of where we came from. Like what the old adage states, ‘One who does not know where he came from, will not reach where he is going to’, I think it is important from all to be reminded of past so that success does not go into our head. It helps to maintain sobriety!


Front cover_for email

Book Preview  ~  I want to encourage everyone to read (in pdf )

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“I want to encourage everyone
to pick up a book
and read today!
 It’s my favorite pastime.
What books are you reading today?”
~ Gerry Robert quote

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Exactly two months after meeting Gerry Robert at his seminar “Publish a book and grow rich” in Kuala Lumpur, I have finally printed my books. They were collected today from the printer and ready for distributions early next week to those who have placed an order and had made payment.

Thank you everyone for your interest and overwhelming support!

For those who have yet to place an order, it is still not too late. You can still do so through this blog, send me an e-mail or through Facebook.

My book is also available as an e-book beside the printed version.

Happy reading and have a nice weekend! 🙂

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Praise for Ipohgal and

The Stories of the Scissors Sharpener’s Daughter

Larry D

Book order

This book can be read as a humble yet assertive girl’s memoir.

It is a collection of stories told in a refreshingly simple way.  And there is disarming honesty here :

“…my parents and I dropped on our beds and snored like pigs.”

Not to mention ghastly events told in a no-holds-barred manner:

“Once singled out, these unlucky people would be taken away for interrogation and their faces would never be seen again.”

As the preface says, the book dwells mainly on how life was for the poor and underprivileged during the 1960s/70s. There was much superstition, but also the smell of blood, sweat, and tears of what the author calls “the voiceless and the faceless” in a city called Ipoh, as they struggled to survive, to find meaning in a society where working people were often lost in a sea of ancient customs and changing societal norms.

As a former Ipoh citizen, I can hear the sounds, see the actions, and feel the emotions of the characters recalled by this particular scissor sharpener’s daughter.  Through her words, the faceless and the voiceless are finally seen and heard.

A laudable first book by a most promising author.

Review of Ipohgal’s
Stories of the Scissor Sharpener’s Daughter
Larry Ng
MA (English), Iowa State University of Science and Technology Ames, IA, USA.
Former Ipoh ACS boy, Retired Teacher.

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What do you do when you could not sleep in the middle of the night? And you are at a place not your own home?

Between the years 2000 and 2007, there were many nights when sleep was a luxury for me. Even a short nap is a rare treat.

Whenever my parents get warded, I will spend the night at the hospital with them because I knew they will need me there by their sides.

And I have to be on my feet most of the time – to change their soiled diapers, feed them food and medications, sponge their feverish bodies, massage their aching limbs or just hold their hands to comfort them. Even whispering a prayer or two into their ears to ease their sufferings…..

By 10 o’ clock each night, the lights in the hospital ward would be off and there is nothing much I could do in the dark. When sleep could not come and this happened so very often, all I could do was to write and for this, I always have a pen and note-book with me in my bag.

On and off in those seven years,  I have managed to write more than two  hundred short stories under the dimmed lights along the quiet corridor of the hospital ward, when everyone was sound asleep and occasionally, a whimper or cry from some patients could be heard.

These writings  were mostly about the times growing up in 188 Hugh Low Street and things my parents told me when they were young and healthy. I wanted to remember them through words.

Today, I have compiled some of these short stories into a book called “The Stories of the Scissors Sharpener’s Daughter.”  To read what I have written on those lonely and quiet nights, please place your order for my book now. I am sure it will bring you a laughter or even a tear.

Heritage forum

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