55 years later, the amazing powers of 5 sen live on




By Nasir Yousoff
Contributor to AsiaN

Kuala Lumpur: Free time allows ones’ mind to nostalgia a little and recalls fond memories a bit here and a bit there. Just enough to put a smile on one’s face and interesting enough to attract attention and enquiries from the young ones.

This haw flake, for example, triggers a sweet memory from my childhood days. This flake has been one of the most loyal buddies to me. It was in my school uniform pockets from my junior 1 class up to junior 6 and later to the boarding school. It is sort of a food of comfort for me. I worry not about anything at all then. Always happy chewing this ‘gambir China’.

Then I forgot about it totally in my university days. And I don’t remember it at all when I first started work, either. It’s only lately that I came to realise its presence on my coffee table. My children must have brought it somewhere. And, I am glad they did.

Almost 55 years ago, the flakes of 5 sen for three rolls gave me easy enjoyable time. Now still very cheap, it is giving me, again, a wonderful recall of great bygone days. Thanks.

Of course, it has become a sweet simple topic for chit chatting with my family. Gathered around dinner or coffee table, sometimes we don’t have any specific topics to talk about. However today, with this flake stories from my school days, my children learned how to value cheap simple things. I have managed to open up their eyes to simple facts that best coffee need not be Starbucks, best fried rice need not be in a five-star hotel.


Best things need not be expensive. How we treat it that gives it a real value. Just like this haw par flakes… For just 10 sen, it triggers memories of one of the most wonderful times of my life, living back home in the far away traditional village where even a 5 sen ice cream was a luxury.

How sweet it was when at that tender age I had to earn through hard work to get that 5 sen from my Dad. ‘Hard work’ for a kid of 6-8 years old means a thorough sweep of the house interior or the vast exterior. And when I was handed over the 5 sen coin, I have to keep vigil, wait for the ice cream man to come by on bicycle. If he fails to turn up then I have to wait for another day, hiding my 5 sen coin at the best of place to avoid it being lost.

Thanks for the memories of old.

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