Engineer sets sights on a durian life, for grandpa’s sake

A whiff of the durian tells Kamal Ezany Azizan this is a good fruit.

TAIPING: Kamal Ezany Azizan looks up to the sky, his hand pressed to his forehead to keep out the glare. A year ago, he would be checking on his workers as they laboured to add another monstrous building to the heart of the city. Today, he is looking at durians.

Kamal has turned his back on city life and a promising career as a site engineer so that he can preserve his late grandfather’s legacy.

Speaking to FMT, Kamal said he owed a lot to his grandfather, Mohd Razinam Othman, whom he lovingly calls “Tok Wan”.

“Through the years, he helped me financially and always supported me in everything I do,” he said, adding Tok Wan’s passing in October 2019 left a hole in his heart.

Kamal starts his day at 7am with a hike up the hill to his grandfather’s orchard.

Kamal said he did not want the orchard abandoned, so he decided to take care of the place on a hill where he spent a lot of time with his grandfather.

“Tok Wan often brought us here and we would go fishing, have picnics, collect fruits and catch up.” These are memories he holds dear. “He was a very loving person even though he had a fierce side.”

Kamal takes a look at the fruits growing high up the trees.

While Kamal has been to the orchard countless times, he admits that it is not as good as working from an office.

“Here I have to work under the hot sun, carry heavy loads, and of course, having to hike up a hill is quite tiring. Wounds and scratches from working in the orchard are normal. Once, a durian nearly fell on my head but I managed to dodge it.”

Back home, Kamal cleans the durians before buyers come to collect them.

The plus side is that he is learning new things, like how to tell if a durian is sweet, and how to manage an orchard.

“It’s tough at the beginning, it’s not easy to make money, but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty fun,” he said, adding the durians are sold to middlemen who sell the fruits elsewhere.

A durian is opened for a buyer to taste.

Now, Kamal is looking to growing more than just durians, including mangosteens and other fruits as well as digging a pond so he can rear fish and prawns to diversify and boost his income.

“I do miss my life in Kuala Lumpur but I’m going to continue on this path, and hopefully earn enough to provide a comfortable life for my family,” he said.

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