Isnin, 11 November 2013

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Parenting

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Parenting

I grew up with Tarzan


An uncle maps the path for a truly memorable childhood.

THE male species, known as "man" when referring to homosapiens, generally are sensitive, strict and ultimately, protective. However, they are also interesting civilised creatures who sometimes radiate an aura that seems to say: "stay away!"

Have you felt intrigued at how their inner self can create such a persona? As far as I'm concerned, it just makes them even more irresistible and even my own "Tarzan" bears some of these traits.

Certainly, my uncle, whom I have fondly dubbed Tarzan, is no ordinary guy. He's tall, well-built and possesses a tanned body. I think he was really attractive in his younger days. In recent years, countless wrinkles and creases seem to have marred his image a little, but for a 60-year-old, it's to be expected.

I'm still impressed and amazed by his capabilities: extraordinary stamina, Hercules-like strength and a fascinating golden tooth on his upper set of teeth which is possibly what's most attractive about him. He also has sunken cheeks which really suits him, especially when he puts on a broad, wide, toothy grin, which is undoubtedly rare.

My uncle was a big part of my childhood and my memories of growing up with him resemble small fragments of a well-known fairy tale, with pieces of the puzzle scattered all around, waiting to be put together again.

I remember streams of water, mysterious woods and frequently, there would be relaxing sounds of water from a lake. Truth be told, I was brought up in the suburbs where my family owned a piece of land just behind my grandmother's wooden hut.

It was an amazing childhood playground for me as there were always chirping birds, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and it was a place I could disappear to.

My parents were often busy with their work and responsibilities, so I became very attached to my Tarzan. He was a retired nature researcher and it was like I had a live encyclopedia with me all the time.

He knew so much about nature and plants, for example, when the colourful flowers would bloom, how to produce fruits that are sweet, how to name unusual plants scientifically, and how to differentiate between edible and poisonous mushrooms.

My uncle would show me the correct way to plant flowers and how to take care of them. Until today, I'm in the habit of planting beautiful flowers and ferns in my own garden.

I think of how he sacrificed his time tutoring and nurturing me, teaching me techniques and feeding me with the latest information. He taught me how to climb a tree and swim. I vividly remember how I climbed a tree, hanging on like a tropical monkey and was bitten terribly by ants. The reward was the juicy fruits which seemed all the more appealing as I plucked them myself.

The ultimate adrenaline rush came from a swing which Tarzan made for me from old tyre, and a see-saw made out of an old dried up tree trunk. Even now, I sometimes stammer in excitement and joy when I recall those good old memories.

Our time together often included having roti canai for breakfast. Perhaps, those simple meals we shared sealed the bond between us and has influenced me so much so that I don't crave for expensive food to satisfy my hunger.

I still clearly remember how as children, my cousins and I would creep into his room, sneak around and then place a forceful smack on his back while my uncle was sleeping. Having been so rudely woken up, he would be as pale as a sheet. And then, we would have to face the music when he scolded us, which would end in loud laughter. His alien-like red face would show that his "man-of-steel" image was destroyed.

Sometimes, I would follow him around when he did his errands. When I was entering Year One, it was my uncle who stood outside the classroom, waiting to take me home on his old motorcycle. He liked taking shortcuts to avoid the congested traffic, and I loved going around town with him, clinging on tightly to his shirt as pillion rider, smelling his perspiration.

He has been my true hero over the years. I'm a forgetful person and often left my essential workbooks at home. He would be the one who helped get them for me. Once, he even climbed into my house to open the door as I had forgotten my keys. My neighbour almost called the police and mum was quite upset. He was the one who consoled me and I owed him big time.

An uncle may not be someone that people pay particular attention to but my Tarzan is the one who brings sunshine to me when storm clouds gather.

How can I not be grateful and appreciate this dearest uncle of mine? Truly, he is someone special whom I love deep in my heart, for now and eternity.

Do you have any real-life, heart-warming stories to share with readers? E-mail them to We'd love to hear from you.

Tom Cruise denies he 'abandoned' Suri


The actor – in court for an ongoing lawsuit against a media company – rubishes claims of neglecting his daughter after his divorce.

Actor Tom Cruise called reports that he had abandoned his daughter Suri after his divorce from actress Katie Holmes "patently false" in court documents for a defamation and invasion of privacy lawsuit against a German media company.

In a declaration that offered a rare glimpse into the actor's marriage and his Scientology religion, Cruise said he had "in no way cut Suri out of my life – whether physically, emotionally, financially or otherwise."

The declaration was filed this week in California federal court as part of the ongoing lawsuit, which is asking for US$50mil (RM150mil) in damages. In a September video deposition as part of the lawsuit, Cruise's life with Holmes and Suri came under scrutiny.

In court transcripts, the 51-year-old actor said that while Holmes, 34, was a practitioner of Scientology before and during their marriage, she left the church when she filed for divorce. He said one of Holmes' "assertions" for the divorce was that she wanted to protect Suri from Scientology.

He added that seven-year-old Suri, his daughter from his marriage to Holmes, was not currently practicing the religion.

The initial lawsuit was filed by Cruise in October 2012 against Bauer Publishing Company, after the company's magazines had published reports claiming Cruise had abandoned Suri following the couple's 2012 divorce. Bauer's publications include US celebrity magazines Life & Style, and InTouch Weekly.

"'Has he chosen Scientology over Suri for good? Abandoned by Daddy.' I mean come on, that is absolutely disgusting. That is absolutely disgusting," Cruise said in the video deposition.

"I'm very privileged to be able to have the life that I have, and I believe that. But there is a line that – that I draw for myself and – and that's it. And I asked for an apology. I asked for a retraction. They denied it."

The court transcripts from the Sept 9 deposition showed that Cruise had only seen Suri for 10 days in the immediate five months after Holmes filed for divorce from the actor in June 2012. The actor said he found questions regarding whether Holmes had left him and Scientology to protect their daughter "offensive", and said "there are many different other aspects to the divorce".

"Like with any relationship, there are many different levels to it ... I find it very offensive. There is no need to protect my daughter from my religion," he said.

Representatives for Cruise did not immediately return Reuters' requests for comment.

Cruise, who has become part of Hollywood's A-list and fronts action franchises including the Mission Impossible films, is one of the highest profile members of the Church of Scientology, a religion founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1954. Followers of Scientology believe humans are immortal beings whose existence extends beyond one lifetime, but critics of the church describe it as a cult that harasses people who try to quit.

Actress Leah Remini was one of the most prominent celebrities to leave the Church of Scientology earlier this year, and has spoken out about being cut off by many friends due to her decision. — Reuters


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