|Shows the childhood memory of Lat|
The Story of The Kampung Boy
The Kampung Boy tells the story of a young ethnic Malay boy, Lat, and his childhood in a kampung (village). A graphic novel, it illustrates the boy's life in pictures and words. Aside from being the protagonist, Lat is also the narrator. The story opens with his birth in a kampung in Perak, Malaysia, and the traditional rituals surrounding the event: the recitation of blessings, the singing of religious songs, and the observance of ceremonies. As Mat grows older, he explores the house, gradually shifting the story's focus to the comic activities of his family outside their abode.
Lat starts the first stage of his formal education—reading the Qur'an. At these religious classes, he makes new friends and joins them in their adventures, swimming in the rivers and exploring the jungles. Lat's parents worry over his lack of interest in his studies; he acknowledges their concern but finds himself unmotivated to forgo play for academic pursuits. When he reaches his tenth year, he undergoes the bersunat, a ritual circumcision. The ceremonies that precede the operation are elaborate, with processions and baths in the river. The circumcision proves to be "just like an ant bite!"
Sometime after recovering from the circumcision, Lat trespasses on a tin mine with his friends. They teach him how to gather the mud left in the wake of the mining dredges and pan for valuable ore. The activity is illegal but often overlooked by the miners. Lat brings the result of his labour back to his father, expecting praise. Instead, he is punished for neglecting his studies and future. After overhearing his parents' laments and being shown the family's rubber plantation, Lat finds the will to push himself to study. He is rewarded for his efforts, passing a "special examination" and qualifying for a "high-standard" boarding school in Ipoh, the state capital.
Rushing home to inform his parents, Lat discovers his father in negotiations with a tin mining company, which is surveying the land. The company will offer a large sum of money for the family's properties if they discover tin on it. Other villagers are hoping for similar deals with the company. They plan to buy houses in Ipoh if their hopes are realised. The day for Lat to depart the village has arrived and he is excited, but as he is about to depart, sadness washes over him. He acknowledges the emotions as his love of the village and hopes that the place where he was born will remain unchanged when he returns.