When my colleague, Mat Saat Bin Daruan, a Javanese by descent, invited me to his first daughter Ina’s wedding, a few years ago, unfortunately I failed to attend it. Infact, I did apologise profusely for it.

What happened at that time was, “Satay”, as my close friend is fondly known as, among driving school circles, had placed all his invitation cards with a counter clerk at the institute where I was attached to at Kg. Jawa, Klang. The above girl failed to distribute the cards to all of us.

Although my close buddy was rather disappointed that I failed to attend his first daughter’s wedding, I was infact not to be blamed.

According to Malaysian Customs, be it Chinese or Malay, it is very unbecoming for a close friend not attending a wedding invitation. If he or she does not reciprocate by attending someone’s wedding reception, he can be said to have broken the norms of social behaviour.

If one is unable to attend the reception, the correct way to behave is to tell the family or person inviting us about it. The least that a person who has been invited should ideally do is to convey “greetings” and send “congratulations” to the family. The best alternative is to send a “present” or a “red packet”, as the Chinese usually do to the family concerned.
This time around, my driving school and close buddy, Mat Saat or “Satay” personally handed me the invitation to his first son, Alang’s (as he is known) wedding which was to be held on the auspicious day of 1st January 2011 or 1.1.11.

Upon handing the invitation to me, Mat Saat reminded me, “It’s new year’s day. Make sure you are at my son’s wedding this time around!” he said.
In order to not to forget this special invitation, I took the “white” invitation wedding card back home, and specially placed it on top of the prayer altar at home.

1st January 2011, being a national public holiday, for many, including yours sincerely, I had intended to go up Genting Highlands on New Year’s Eve that is on Friday, 31st December 2010. Me and my wife, Mary, had wanted to see the 2010 “countdown” at the famous resort up 6,666 feet and the “fireworks” scheduled. Not to forget also dabbling our luck a little bit at the casino too.

Luck infact, had been siding us. Malaysia beat Indonesia and became the eventual champions in “football” after many years. Our country was proud of our team’s success and what coach Rajagopal had achieved! Prime Minister, Tun Najab Razak, surprisingly declared Friday, a public holiday.
Contacting Genting highlands resort on Friday night brought the bad news, that all hotel rooms, even the 6,660 rooms at the First World Hotel were fully booked.

For readers’ information, there are at least 20 – 30 hotels in Genting Highlands, the Highlands Hotel, Resort Hotel, Theme Park Hotel, to name but a few of the hotels available, but they were all surprisingly fully booked up.

So, not being able to got up the hill resort of Genting Highlands for our “final countdown” of 2010, my wife and I, although in our sixties, but still young at heart, especially my wife, then decided to go to nearly Centro Complex, next to Hokkien Association, Klang, to listen to some modern music and songs and also to welcome the new year of 2011.

The fireworks and celebrations finally ended around 1.00a.m. Feeling hungry, we finally decided to visit the “hokkien mee” centre behind the High School, Klang for a plate of famous “hokkien mee” and barley water.
Not being able to go up Genting Highlands on Friday evening, infact had its blessings.

Otherwise, me and my wife would have not been able to be around in Klang on Saturday, 1st January 2011. If that should happen, then I would not have been able to attend my best friend’s son, Alang’s wedding, which I had planned to attend weeks ago.

Call it what you may, “kun faya kun” in Arabic, or “qada and qadar” if you might, I was around town on 1.1.11 as fate had it, as they say, to attend the scheduled wedding reception.

After finishing my duties as a driving school instructor that Saturday morning, 1st January 2011, my wife and I decided to attend Alang’s wedding at 2.00 p.m that day. To attend a Malay wedding at 2.00p.m is infact rather late. But I have always been advised by my school teachers while I was young, that “it’s better late than never”.

Let me tell you one thing, To attend a Malay wedding late, especially in a kampung, can sometimes be a risk. What risk am I talking about, you may ask?

Well, let me explain a little bit further. When many people attend a Malay wedding and those who come late, like myself, will find all the food laid out for the occasion “gone”. Well, the nasi tomato was there alright and still hot, I would say. But the others, “ayam masak merah”, “ayam goreng”, “kerabu timun and nanas” or pineapples were unfortunately exhausted. What was left was the “daging lembu” or “beef masak gulai”. As a Buddhist by religion, I infact try to stay away from consuming “beef” if I can. But on that day, it looked as if I had little alternative.

Upon arrived at my friend’s son’s wedding, I shook hands with this friend, Mat Saat, his wife, Kak Noor, whom I have not seen for quite a few years now, his children, Ena, Along and a few others. Infact, I have forgotten many of their names.

I think it would only be fair to inform you a little bit more of my close buddy, Mat Saat bin Daruan. Mat, he operates the Sekolah Memandu Mat Saat, sice the 1950’s. His shop or office is at Jalan Tepi Sungai, Klang. Saat has a Chinese wife, who was adopted by a Malay family when young. Mat Saat has up to 14 or 15 children. All his children attend Chinese vernacular schools when young.

In fact, I was instrumental in getting “Alang”, whose wedding I attended on 1.1.11, being enrolled at one of Klang town’s biggest and well known Chinese secondary school, the Kwang Hua Secondary School, which is located at nearby Eng Ann Housing Estate in Klang. Today, I hear Alang works with a shipping agency in Perlabuhan Klang. He can speak and write Mandarin fluently.

Upon arrival at Mat Saat’s residence, my wife and I were invited into their house to take some photos at their “bersanding dais”, as a mark of remembrance of our visit there. I went to attend my friends’ son’s wedding, as a mark of respect for him, Mat Saat because he was the one who so graciously allowed this instructor the use of his driving school permit many, many years ago.

To be exact, more than 41 years ago. Without him, without a doubt, I wouldn’t have been have got my “S.M.2” certificate or “certificate” to instruct, way back in 1971.

Attending his son’s wedding, a few weeks ago on 1.1.11, was in a small way, my way of extending my gratitude and thanks to my close buddy and childhood, Mat Saat bin Daruan. I am indeed glad and happy to be able to make it to “Alang’s” wedding! To the young couple, let me wish them a “Happy union” in the years ahead. May they be blessed with lots and lots of children!

1st of January, 2011, has turned out to be a memorable day, after all.