1997 was the year when Malaysians and the rest of the world started experiencing the flattening of the world and the beginning of digital divide. Well, maybe Malaysia lagged by three years if you were to compare us with America, Canada and The UK, but we were quite advance then.
This year marked a few historical events in my life.
First, The Engineering Faculty computer lab was equipped with brand new SUN servers and SUN workstations and we're internet ready! The first thing I taught my male friends was how to access Playboy website. They became so excited that they started buying modems to be installed at home.
Secondly, I bought a PC using my own money. It was from my 6 months' savings. I was doing my industrial training in IBM and I saved some of the allowance each month. Since we didn't have Streamyx yet back then, we were using the house land line for dialing up to access internet. I used to have an internet account with Telekom back then.
Thirdly, with the flattening of the world, we managed to track down my big brother online. There was no Google or people search yet, but he was found by sheer coincidence.
Well, he used to have this close friend (whose sister was kind enough to let my mom and me sleep at her house when I registered at STF). This guy was working as a teacher (or was he a lab assistant?) at a school in Melaka. One day he was in the computer lab where all the students were busy learning computer related things including emails and chatting at MiRC. He made his round in the lab, from one desk/student to another. He noticed that one of the students was having a chat with a user id that rang a bell to him. It was a very familiar nickname that reminded him of his old friend.
He suspected that it was my big brother. That kind of name would only be used by people of his generation and my big brother was one of those who used that name a lot. Sorry, I couldn't remember what exactly the user id was, but it was not a Malay word. So, this guy became curious and started telling the student to ask a few simple questions.
The answers that came were surprisingly familiar. This guy knew immediately it was my big brother chatting on the other end. What he did next was to get the student to get an email id and telephone number that can be contacted and they received them, no question asked.
A few days later I got a call from my second brother instructing me to contact the number passed to him from Melaka. I made a call and my big brother was not surprised at all to hear my voice. Perhaps, he had suspected that someday he will be discovered and there's not many things he can do to continue hiding or running away. Our conversation was brief, as I didn't really know what to tell him. It seemed like he was well informed of what's going on in our kampung and in the family. Before he hung up, he gave me his email which was a hotmail account, and a few years later he changed to Yahoo!
That was the beginning of our virtual communication.
1997 was also the year that my first niece was born, and we lost our beloved grandmother only a few days later.
It was also in 1997 that I met my husband.
To be continued....