4 Lake Road was the government quarters my father was assigned to in his second career as a bureaucrat cum politician. Without prejudice one can say  that he executed his role as a servant of the government much more earnestly than that of the incidental politician that he was. Having been a government doctor trained in the British tradition of western medicine, he found it relatively easy to apply the established, albeit complex, procedures in diagnosing and curing human diseases to administration. But finding a cure for the human political maladies proved to be less predictable and logical and thus, a greater challenge.

For the teenager and later young adult who took her growing up years more seriously than her father’s involvement with matters of the state, the rambling colonial structure of 4 Lake Road provided the most conducive environment to nurture my scholastic abilities, its verdant tembusu surroundings a haven for my dreams and fantasies. Tucked away in a corner of the  sprawling verandah I was able to savor with delight the idyllic romances of Denise Robbins while studying the dark passions of the Bronte sisters for my school literature assignments. The poems in the English romantic tradition of Wordsworth and Keats were to  intrigue me as much as the tragedies of Shakespeare. 

Thus, the approved school texts and library books were relished as much as the forbidden works of D H Lawrence and Henry Moore discovered in my father’s private collection. For the latter I had to be certain he was on an out-of-town work assignment usually in the weekends, on a lazy Sunday afternoon when my mother was napping and 4 Lake Road with its daylight ghosts and demons was all mine. Then the ghosts and demons in my imagination took over! 

There was plenty of time to be self indulgent as my older siblings were either courting, studying or working.  There was time for long walks and bicycle rides around the Lake Gardens with my best friends Lee Ha, Cecilia and Foong Kwan. There was time for badminton with the saudara house boys Ali and Awang. There was time for the special tennis rituals faithfully enacted from the lining of the courts, to the hauling of the net, to the scraping of the rackets, to the pretentious shots with Nik, James, Jee Mok, Foong Kwan, Lee Ha and me all in perfect tennis gear. But we had great carefree fun and the firm friendships remain to this day!


You could call it a charmed life if you like for in those days life was indeed charming! We were born not with the fragile, hereditary silver spoon in our mouths, but with the strong alloys of tin, alluminium and steel nurtured in our hearts by dedicated parents and teachers. Values were solid, principles firm, duties impeccable, loyalties undivided!  Many of us in the smaller towns like Seremban remember an idyllic childhood and adolescence where there was time to stand and stare and time for commitment and responsibility.  

But for my father, his time at 4 Lake Road was filled with the complexities of government and the intricacies of politics!    



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September 2009
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