This book is actually a journal written by a 13 year-old boy named Amin. It all started when he is given a diary by his father whom he called Abah. He feels proud and special that his Abah had chosen him instead of other people to give the diary to. He decides to make good use of it by writing down all the things that he goes through during the year. On some days, his loving sister, Siti, also contributes some interesting stories which he then pens in his journal.
Answers to questions such as How are some festivals such as Hari Raya Puasa, Chinese New Year and Gawai Dayak celebrated? What is the significance of a Cukur Jambul ceremony? Have you heard of any legend relating to the king of fruit, durian? What are some spooky superstitions associated with clothes and clothes line? Want to know something about saree and cheongsam? Do you know how mysterious the Bakawali plant is? What are the must-see and must-do things when you visit Malacca or Kelantan? Do you dare point your finger at the rainbow? We can open an umbrella in the house, or canít we?, etc are all in here.
Amin's journal is informative, relatable and loads of fun, being reminiscent of the time he was brought up by his loving parents whilst learning and understanding of all the ìdoísî and ìdonítsî in life as a Malay boy. The process of his growing up is uniquely revealed through words and drawings as he records them in his journal. Read about his many firsts plane trip, bicycle ride and dentistís visit, his attachment to an old teddy bear and a pillow, how he likes his hairstyle to be sleek and in-place, the times he was grounded for some wrong-doing and when he was circumcised. In Aminís own words, ìthese are the stories of how I have learned, grown, developed physically and in faith. These are the events which make me the person I am today.
Through his interactions with his parents, sister, relatives, teachers, neighbours and classmates from various races, Amin grows in his knowledge of his own culture and the various time-honoured customs, beliefs, myths, superstitions, taboos and legends of other faiths. His jottings also provide us with some profound advice, hints and tips for life seen through his innocent eyes. His captured memories and stories told to him, some mysterious and some heart-rending yet uplifting, will open our eyes to present-day values and issues.
His written notes on the various cultures range from customary activities and acceptable norm & behavior of each community right through to how people from different ethnics celebrate their religious festivals. His depictions in his journal will provide readers glimpses of the moral values and the diversity in the ways of life of people of different faiths inhabiting different parts of the country. An example of this diversity in the way people live is reflected in a witty story about his familyís friend, a foreigner who realizes that she has done something wrong when stepping into a Malay house with her shoes on. She then corrected her manners in a somewhat comical way. Readers may also laugh after finding out the background story and the incidents surrounding a wedding that takes place in a state in Malaysia.
Through his journal, readers will also get glimpses of the myths, superstitions, beliefs and taboos of various races..those associated with chicken pox, leftover rice, eating fish head, opening of umbrella, pointing at rainbow, walking under clothes lines, leaving of laundry outside through the night, cutting of fingernails, the properties of durian and salak fruit, the mysterious Bakawali plant, just to name a few. Amin finds some of them so humorous: to avoid rain falling on a certain day, some people throw their clothes on the roof two or three days before the event; a legend of tigers preferring to eat durian than human as durian is far tastier!; if a girl sings in the shower, she will end up marrying an old man, etc.
Inspired by some touching stories told to him, he has captured them well in his journal. These are stories with good morals: about our need of each other in life in A Worm & A Peach Tree, ways of overcoming challenges and attaining glory in A Seed in the Mud, the heart-rending tale of a dog named Hachiko, and a panda called Pancake, etc. He knows that some day he will recall all the lessons-learnt in these stories when he needs some "lift-me-ups" to get him moving forward.
Amin recollects some of his breathtaking moments too. The experience he had at his friendís fruit orchard was a once-in-a-lifetime moment. So was his time at the Twin Towers Skybridge. The history and the magnificence of the Great Wall of China told to him by a Chinese friend and the fantastic feeling being on board a ship for a holiday which was related to him by another friend are vividly noted in his journal. His visits to Malacca and Kelantan also leave lasting memories in the pages of his journal.
Throughout the year, Amin pens down valuable advice and tips on life. This ranges across a spectrum of areas: when he sets a goal, he must go all out for it (for e.g. his strive to enter the science class); he will succeed as long as he perseveres to achieve what he wants (he produces a winning poem titled ìI Did Itî); from his mother whom he calls Mak, he learns the importance of planning to manage each dayís tasks; the effort and what it entails to have an advantage to win a contest; the importance of being honest, emphasis on cleanliness and reminders about ìdoísî and ìdonítsî when he is growing up.
Some entries in his journal will tickle your funny bone: when Amin finds out that his classmate, whose physique is rather too well-rounded, ironically aims to be a fashion designer; another classmate who is just a student bought something from a shopping mall which sells items at insanely expensive prices ñ to Amin, this is just too good to be true!: a friend who has a nickname which amuses him, curing hiccups by sticking licked papers on forehead as well as putting a pair of school shoes behind a refrigerator for quick drying, are some examples.
Aminís jottings reflect what he personally understands and what he makes out of the events that he goes through during the whole year. Thereís a whole lot of rich information and experience reflected here. Readers may catch a glimpse of yourselves, or someone you know in any one of the stories. You may also find some practical solutions to some daily problems from Aminís records. As what he stated in his last entry of the year, he hopes that "perhaps someone could be blessed by my journal, and learn from my experience, trials and triumphs."