I AM BORN
It was early winter in London. I caused great excitement when I arrived on November 4, 1966 at 10.55 am. Everyone said what a lovely baby I was so they had to keep a record of my measurements at birth :
Weight : 7lb 10oz
Length : 20 inches
Circumference of head : 15 inches
I was delivered by Caesarian section at the South London Hospital so my head was nice and round, but I didn’t have much hair to show off.
After 16 days at the hospital, I was bundled up in warm clothes, placed in a little cot and carried home by my Daddy. My home was just across the road at 26 Westbury Court, Clapham South.
When I was two months old Mummy had to go back to work at the Malaysian Students Department at Bryanston Square. So on Monday, January 2nd, she left me with Mrs Mundy, a baby minder, who lived just round the corner from us at 25 Gaskarth Road. There I met Adrian, her 10-year-old son, and two-year-old David whom Mrs Mundy looked after as well.
Each morning before she sent me to Mrs Mundy’s house, my mother would put layers of clothing on me, also bootees, mittens and a bonnet to keep me warm in the cold winter weather. But Mrs Mundy would immediately throw off my bonnet, mittens and jacket. She said fresh air was very good for me. She was a trained nurse so I suppose she knew what she was doing. She would leave me in the playground in my pram and called me her “fresh air baby”.
On my second day with her, Mrs Mundy took me to the Balham Clinic to have my weight taken. I was 12lbs 1 oz. My birth weight doubled when I was four months old.
On January 31 I had my first shot, for protection against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. It was called the triple antigen. The doctor also gave me some medicine to drink to protect me from polio. The whole process was repeated on February 28 and on March 28. On April 25 I was vaccinated against small pox. A little blister developed on my left arm, just below my shoulder, but I didn’t cry and gave Mummy no trouble at all.
Mummy was worried about the condition of my right eye. When I was a few days old she noticed it gave out a yellowish discharge. The doctor at the South London Hospital gave her some ointment for it. When the discharge continued, she took me to see her GP, Dr Carmel Gibson, at Poynders Road. Dr Gibson prescribed various antibiotics – Sofradex, Soframycin and Chloromycetin but when nothing worked she advised Mummy to take me to the Royal Eye Hospital at Elephant and Castle. There Mr Clover who looked at me said I had a blocked tear-duct and asked Mummy to massage the inside corner of my right eye to encourage the duct to open. He gave me more Chloromycetin.
On May 26 I saw another eye-specialist who gave me more drops and reminded Mummy to continue massaging my eye. In June and July I went back to the Eye Hospital and saw two more specialists. And then, like magic, the discharge stopped! So no more horrid drops for me.
I made no fuss at all when my teeth started to grow. At nine months my first bottom tooth appeared. Mummy was overjoyed to see it. At last! she cried, and bought me a present for being so clever, a baby-walker from Mothercare. Two weeks after that I cut my second bottom tooth. My third (top) tooth appeared when I turned 11 months.
o I first “spent a penny” in my little yellow potty when I was two months old.
o At three-and-a-half months I took my first drink from a cup.
o At four months I really started to enjoy the Baby-Bouncer Mummy had got me and would bounce up and down in it endlessly after my evening meal
o At seven months I went on my first camping trip. Daddy drove us to Bognor Regis on the South Coast of England in his super red-and-white Volkswagen Caravette with Daddy’s sister Auntie Nyonya, and Auntie Zaibedah and her husband Uncle Zul, friends of my parents. Mrs Mundy had taught me to love the great outdoors so I enjoyed sitting around or “rocking” back and forth in the lovely wide fields of Bognor Regis.
o On September 4, Mrs Mundy took me to the barber’s for my first hair-cut. It cost Mummy four shillings. Mrs Mundy gave a sample of my baby hair to Mummy who stored it carefully in a little plastic sachet.
MY FIRST BIRTHDAY
I attended a wedding on my first birthday! My parents’ friends, Auntie Shirley and Uncle Jin Chor, got married that day in a huge building called the Marylebone Town Hall. It was a registry wedding. All the people looked so solemn so I thought I’d cheer them up by singing a song and shocked everyone. The wedding cake was delicious but Daddy said No! to the champagne.
HOME TO MALAYSIA
My parents told me something exciting today. We’re going home to Malaysia, a country very far away from England. Daddy had completed his studies and was now called a Barrister-at-Law. Mummy had given up her job at the Malaysian Students’ Department.
My Daddy was a great one for adventure. He’d been planning for months to take the overland route home which meant we would drive thousands of miles across many countries until we reached Calcutta in India. From there we would hop on a boat to Penang before heading to Kuala Lumpur. But the “Six Day War” happened so he couldn’t get an international customs carnet that would allow his VW Caravette to enter and exit all the countries in Europe and Asia along the overland route. He was very sad indeed. So we will fly home in a big airplane instead.
I will have to say goodbye to dear Mrs Mundy, Adrian and David. I will really miss going with them to that playground with the pond near Poynders Road. I will miss David most of all.
Mummy and Daddy spent many days packing. They bought three huge trunks for their things. They also packed a few of my toys – my toddler-coaster, rocking horse, baby chair and all my little toy cars.
We finally left London on October 16, two weeks before my second birthday. The plane, A Boeing 707, made a very big noise as it took off. The excitement of it all was just too much for me and I soon fell fast asleep.
When I awoke we were in Karachi. Our former neighbour at Westbury Court, Uncle Yunus, met us at the airport and took us to his home. There we met his wife Auntie Kaniz and four-year-old Ameen who had grown so big and tall since I last saw him.
After spending three glorious days in Karachi, we arrived at the grand new Subang airport in Kuala Lumpur on October 20.
A large crowd of relatives and friends welcomed us home. I was whisked from person to person, hugged and smothered with kisses, and got very hot and thirsty. I cried for something to drink. After a lot of hustle and bustle we made it to Mummy’s sister Auntie Zurina’s home where I met the rest of our very large family.
Not long after we arrived in Malaysia, I made another plane trip. In my early years I was already quite a jet-setter! That trip, much longer than my first, took me from Malaysia all the way to the US. I was three-and-a-half years old and travelled with complete strangers all the way. But I believe Mummy has already written about that elsewhere.