I Hope You’re Not Taking The Pisang!

This story travels back to 1969 when l was 6 years of age and living in Malaysia. My Father worked for the Royal Australian Air Force as an NCO in the Military Police.

I have memories of Malaysia and 1969, and some of them are pretty vivid, as is this particular tale. However, a couple of things before l proceed, almost a disclaimer if you wish. This is not a tale up for the pros and cons of marijuana, nor is it a promotion of what is right and/or wrong. It is a single story about a series of incidents in the Summer of 69 involving three people, myself, our Malay gardener and my Father. 

I am not a novice to ganja. My philosophy on life has been to trial many things once, and if after that moment l like or dislike something, l go with the flow on that decision. Of course, over the last 50 years, l have smoked a joint or six or whatever number it may have been. But l have never been addicted to it, nor have l ever abused any substance relating to drugs. It’s not my bag, so to speak, but l have enjoyed the experiences it can deliver.

Living in Malaysia in the ’60s especially and as a youngster left a lot of very deep-seated memories within my mind. As my Father was of Officer status and married, we all lived in the military personnel quarters. My Sister was born in June 1968 in Sydney in Australia. When we moved to Butterworth in Malaysia, she was only 9 months of age then.

In the later sixties, all the officer’s quarters came with their own staffing – so we had two amahs – Choy was our cook, Sharon was the housekeeper and one gardener called Taufik. 

I remember all three very well, even as l type this out again today, well over fifty years ago. Equally, l remember the house’s layout and, more so, the garden. It was wonderfully vibrant and filled with colour. A very tropical garden indeed. We even had our own banana tree. Taufik took outstanding care of all the greens he was paid to maintain whilst in the employment of the Royal Australian Airforce.

We used to have a bush that grew along the entire fence that produced the most beautiful flower, which attracted giant bumblebees that used to harvest the pollen. However, a passer-by stopped to smell the scent once, and a bee flew into her mouth and stung her. She went into anaphylactic shock as she was allergic. So to avoid these things, we had the gardener remove the entire bush.

We used to have a lot of plants growing in the actual garden, beautiful hibiscus, orchids, Ixora, begonias, wax palms, elephant ears, pagoda flowers and banana trees. I had one growing beneath my own bedroom beneath the verandah, and l clearly remember our gardener calling them ‘pisangs’. 

I remember seeing the fruit start out as bright green first thing in the mornings, turn to a rich yellow, and then, if not picked, turn black. My mother used to love the fruit, but my Father forbade her to eat them, such a waste as the amahs and the gardener alike always had them and sold them to the servicemen coming over from Vietnam during R&R.

Those are the plants and flowers alike we knew the names of. However, we didn’t realise that our gardener was also growing ‘ganja’. Truthfully, he was not specifically our ‘sole’ gardener as exclusive to only us. He was the gardener for various properties up and down the street. 

Back then, in Malaysia, l didn’t really see a lot of my parents. My Father was up very early and out early to beat the heat and would be back in for lunch by around midday for an hour or so, then the driver would take him back to the base where he would work till around 6pm. My mother was always involved in organising the other housewives in the various tasks they were expected to carry out. 

I, too, was up very early [5am] to catch the school bus [5.30am], which would take me to the ferry to cross to Georgetown where l schooled, which started before 7am. In many respects, the amahs of the house were those that looked after us, as in my sister and myself. The amahs practically raised my sister and me. Both of my parents were always busy.

I clearly remember both Choy and Sharon making our dinner, washing us in the giant washtub and so on, and l also remember the gardener Taufik always smiling, happy and chatty. 

When the parents were not there, many of us’ brats’ got together and mixed with the locals, and good times were had by one and all. But equally, as some kids’ play their nannies’ up, l was no different to Choy. Who l can only imagine must have passed by now as she was already ancient when she worked with us. I couldn’t get away with it with Sharon, who was younger and could run just as fast as me!!

When our parents weren’t there, it was a very relaxed, very calming atmosphere. One of the reasons is that Taufik was always smoking around us, a delightful aroma. He would talk in his sing-song way to both Sharon and Choy, and he flirted with them both. Back then, he knew what he was doing, and to charm one, you had to show reverence to the elder. Thinking back, Sharon was lovely.

Choy may not have been a spring chicken, but she wasn’t called coy Choy. She was very aware of the flirting, as was l aged 6! However, the pleasant aroma always sparked my attention to Taufik, and l was always helping him in the garden, just to be even closer to that beautiful smell that always relaxed me.

One day l remember asking him what he smoked that made such a beautiful smell. He offered me his ‘cigarette’… l remember following his instructions on how to smoke it, and l also remember feeling a very dry sensation in my throat. Still, l didn’t cough – in fact, truth be known, l liked it. I also really liked the bizarre effect it had on me. From that day on, l suppose you could say l was kind of hooked in some way. Every time l saw Taufik in our garden, l would run down the stairs to see him, help him with the garden and take the odd toke or two on his ‘strange grass’ as he called it.

So fascinated with it, l asked one day if l could buy some off him, which he agreed to, and it was our little secret, and he showed me what to do and how to prepare it for smoking. I was very pleased with myself, l had a small container with it, and it only cost me a $1 Malaysian!

However, that night, when l sat downstairs whilst everyone else was upstairs, Choy caught me in the amah quarters’ rolling up’ and struggling to do so at that and called up to the Master [my Father]. The latter, alongside my Mother, came hurtling down the stairs with Sharon in tow. My Father took my swag off me, took a deep sniff, and l swear he smiled, and he suddenly demanded where l had got this.

Well, l was sworn to a secret with Taufik, and there was NO way l would turn him in – except Choy had other ideas and blurted out that it was the gardener! My Father then sent everyone upstairs and said he would talk to his Son. He did, and he outlined the good, the bad and the ugly of such a terrible thing as ganja. He asked me how much l had paid, and l answered a $1, and l remember him turning to me and staring in shock before he said.

“Son, you have been duped; l could have got you way better for way less!”

I was more than a little surprised that he then took my ‘gear’ off me and showed me how to roll a joint. Then we sat there for a few moments, and he allowed me a few tokes and then sent me to bed and never discuss our talk with my Mother. He was down there for a good hour, and l know that when he came back up, my Mother asked what he was doing and why he had such a big stupid smile on his face???

Sadly, Taufik was fired from our house the next day, but l still saw him because my Mum and Dad didn’t know what the marijuana plants looked like that he grew in our garden …. but l did, and l kept them safe and sound for him!

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39 thoughts on “I Hope You’re Not Taking The Pisang!

  1. Good morning Rory hope that you are faring well 6 days into the new year. Happy New Year’s btw.
    As someone who uses marijuana and also edibles on a daily to help with my depression and the various aches and pains that have begun to overrun my body. Mostly joint pain in my elbows and shoulders. I am a Willie Nelson without the platform or the voice lol lol lol Have a wonderful day and I loved the story. 🙂

        1. If skunk wasn’t an offence over here that’s what l think wuld help Suze more with her sleep. However, you can’t buy it legally here. We can’t even get the oil which she could have burning in the room.

        2. That’s the way it is, it wasn’t always legal everywhere else in some places either – Britain are slower at some things. Although l saw an article the other day [another one] that was on about another attempt at legalising the stuff.

          it would be way easier if they did, but there is l guess more money to be made by the corrupt powers to be to have it as illegal.

        1. Hey Sadje, it travels by many names – Mary Jane, Skunk, Pot, Ganja, Weed, Dope, Hash and of course the old fave Reefer and there are many more in addition to that too 🙂

        2. Oh I see. Over here they call it “chars” too. And I’ve heard that the government has legalized it here as well!

        3. Well l think legalisation is a good idea personally, it would decriminalise the substance more. There is always going to be the smaller minority that abuse it although they will always abuse the hard core substances more.

          But if they legalise it, they take away the street value. In retrospect comparison to other much hard core drugs, Chars is the least of people’s problems.

          Britain l think will drag their heels to legalising the drug because as l said to Jay lyn yesterday, there is l think more money to be made for the government and the chemical giants by keeping it illegal.

        4. Legalising does work, l have seen it in other industries – there are always benefits to it. There will always be negatives, but thankfully the positives outweigh those.

  2. Great story, Rory! Compared to other drugs, it’s a godsend. I think it should be legalized everywhere.

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