Monday, 11 February 2008

Kacang Putih Man

This heartwarming article was written by Sujatha Rajagopal (Class of 1992 - Form 6) for the Centenary Magazine in 1985. Suji is now a freelance copywriter who lives in San Jose (USA) with her husband and 5-year old son.

My first encounter with the kacang putih man, and his family was in the 1980s when I was in primary school. What fascinated me most were his youthful eyes. Eyes that would gleam in the friendliness as you piped in a small voice "Pakcik, nak kacang...sepuluh sen." Eyes that would watch in amusement as you ate the kacang putih or fed your friends and the pigeons that flocked in abundance over the tarmac.

The business was started by his late father, Krishnan - a short balding man, usually clad in a crisp, white shirt and white dhoti. According to him, his father started selling kacang putih at the primary school in the early 1960s until his death in the mid 1980s.

Meanwhile, he himself had been selling kacang putih in the secondary school canteen since the '70s. He also plied along Jalan Bukit Bintang and other parts of town. When I asked him how business was, he smiled a little wistfully and replied that profits were not much - just enough to cover his family's living expenses.

It is an understatement to say that the kacang putih man leads a difficult life. He wakes up daily at 4.30 am - a time when most of us would still be fast asleep. He then leaves his home to meet his supplier by 5:30 am. After that, he would make his rounds to the various parts of town to sell kacang putih.

We should recognise that the kacang putih man and the canteen-stall operators formed an important part of BBGS history.

No comments: