Kee Thuan Chye returns in his mind to the village his great-great-granddad built. Sungai Bakap, after being bypassed by development, has lost much of its past glory. But the Kee family home is still there, reeking of history and other fragrances, waiting for another turn in its fortunes. Its spirit can still be awakened.
The hamlet of Sungai Bakap used to be on the North- South trunk road, and when it was, it steadily flourished, together with its neighbours Simpang Ampat and Nibong Tebal. But it went off the beaten track when it got bypassed by the new expressway. That took away whatever economic glory it had been reaping until then. Now it is back to being a virtual sleepy hollow.
As faded in glory is the Kee family homestead that used to be the fountainhead of the hamlet. In its heyday, it was the hallmark of Chinese industry and tradition, reflected in its six huge houses and ancestral hall laid out in a compound surrounded by 12-foot-high walls.
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