Az Samad has a favourite story about his father, National Laureate A Samad Said. “He used to ask me: ‘What do people do on weekends?’ I would say, ‘They do what they like’. Then he would tell me, ‘Why do they have to work from Monday to Friday and wait until Saturday or Sunday to do what they like?’
“This thought was planted in me as a child: What if you could do whatever you like every single day? Why do you have to work five days a week and only do what you really enjoy during the weekend?
“It was a different kind of programming. The typical Asian programming would be: You have to get into a good university, find a job, buy a car, buy a house and make your family proud. My dad was like: ‘Do what makes you happy.’
“I had a very open kind of artist’s upbringing. That’s why I’m a musician lah. I wake up every morning and I do music,” says Az, who also teaches the guitar (he has written six e-books on that), does music reviews and produces podcasts.
When Az was born in December 1980 in Kuala Lumpur, “Pak” was 48. “I always felt my dad was old. He’s always had a beard and looked old to me, since I was a kid,” he says, happily launching into another story about the man most Malaysians only know from books and literary events.
“But his spirit is very young. He is always curious about everything and that’s cool. It’s funny ... I feel he is even younger now. He is so full of life, you can’t tell his age. He will ask me, ‘Eh, what is Justin Bieber doing ah? Who is this Selena Gomez? What’s this new movie coming out?’ He is like a young person, always asking questions. He taught me to be curious.”
Those who frequent public transport may also recognise the indefatigable Pak Samad, a regular traveller on the LRT, with his bushy beard and brows, a head of scraggly silver locks and cloth bag slung over a wiry shoulder. Poet, novelist and an ardent DAP supporter, he epitomises the travelling troubadour who walks the ground and is attuned to what is going on around him.
Az is pressed to keep up with his father, who turned 87 on Feb 8. “He has even more energy than me. He is always going to this and that event and walking everywhere. My parents are busy people, always out and about.”
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