Come to think of it, the title says the gathering of old pals... but what do we call the girls? old pils? or poles perhaps? LOL harumphh ermm. excuse me..I beg your pardon.. :)
At last the day came and we congregate at the first recreation location discovered by our father of independence, Tunku Abdul Rahman..
How apt and touching. Though the place is unrecognisable from my first memories of being there, its still is so much better than Tanjung Rhu in Langkawi where your feet will touch mud instead of sand when you get into the water. There is mud here but they were there before, unlike Tanjung Rhu which was very pristine and clear watered. When one kicks the sand in the water, the water remains clear and you can see each granules of sand sinking back. That was way back when we were still in school.
When I was there last, with both my sons, I remember the younger one screaming when he got into the water. I was surprise. What on earth is the matter? It turns out that he step into squishy mud and broken shells and what not that the tide brought in. The sensation being foreign to him which led to the frightened sceaming. Who do I blame?
Well, back to our gathering. I always make a diversion when talking or writing. So there we were. All 50 year olds and almost 50 year olds. My birthday is next week anyway. A sly reminder. You gusy reading this can give me my presents by putting some credit to my phone number on the 20th, 21st and the 22nd of June and digi will be kind enough to add another 50%, which means, I you guys collectively credit me with say RM100, I will get an extra RM50 credit from digi, thanking all of you in advance and make sure of the correct date. 20th, 21st and 22nd of June. :)))
My travels started on the 4th where I visited my eldest sister, in Dato' Keramat. On the morning of the 5th, I got a call from Ismael Ahmad. A little before noon a business man entered our bengkel to collect some orders he placed. I got my part which covered some expenses, thank god. ou wouldn't believe it that on the morn` of the 4th, there was only coins amounting to RM2 in my pockets and with the grace of god who knew I wanted to be with you guys, gave providence. God the most beautiful, I THANK YOU DEAREST LORD.
As soon as I packed, I called my neighbour Sham the batik cum computer expert cum graphic designer. "Can you send me to the Wangsa Maju Putra LRT station?" No problemo" . That's Sham. Always and ever ready to lend a hand. Thank you man.
I overshot my destination. Thats because I fell asleep on the train. Woke up and ask an indonesian sitting opposite, "what station?", "KL Sentral , Pak!" Luckily the train just stop and the doors were just opening, I jump up to get off and ran down the escalator to catch the train approaching on the opposing tracks. I didn't make it. Too much traffic. Human that is. I could push through but I risk being accuse as an ithcy bithcy old man.. trying to brush against young voluptious young ladies. hahahaha but in india they call them eve teasers.(are we still in KL?)
I got off at the Central Market station, walking briskly through tourist and commuters up Petaling Street and along Sultan Street making my way towards Pudu Raya. Nearing to Pudu Raya, the ticket touts were shouting JB, JB. Huh.. Aren't there any bus going up north? I called out, "Butterworth!" and the tout just shook his head. So did the next one, sorry no bus. I was on the verge of panicking. Still I walk down to the lower deck of Pudu Raya. Exhaust fumes and a JPJ patrol car parked at the last bus alley greets me. A thin young man came up to me, " mana nak pi bang". Ahh, a northerner! "Butterworth," I answered. he ran up and down looking for a seat on any of the buses for me. At last he came up with one. But its gonna cost you man. 40 bucks! This bus is from Singapore. Oh, what the hell. Forty it is, whats your cut? I asked him. Not much laa bro. only RM4. He ushered me into the bus and I paid the driver RM40, he handed me a ticket labeled Tambang RM31.00. Never mind, I thought, he did earned his money. Its Halal in my book.
Its been quite a while since I was able to enjoy the scenery. It was always me who did the driving the last twenty years. And we'd usually travel at night. At least this time there's a few more hours of daylight left for me to enjoy the view.
Anyway, I arrived Butterworth approximately at 10.30 pm. before arriving, I'd already made some calls, keeping my options open. One of whom is Kamal. He said, “I'm on my way”. I ordered beef burger and told the vendor to cut up the burger into 18 pieces. Kamal arried shortly as I was gulpting down the last piece and was downing cow's milk. He was very accommodating. He send me all the way to my brother's house in Sungai Petani. I couldn't force him to let me sleep over. His spouse and children would be shrieking next morning, questioning what this old drifter is doing in their house. Looking at that last line makes me wonder if those old comics had anything to do with my lifestyle now.
The next day, I was ready to continue my journey. First destination, Mak Ahh's khenduri. Suhaila's wedding. In Jitra. Officially representing my sister's, brother's and mom. Mak Ahh looks almost the same, I recognise her immediately, I went over to her and knelled besides her, and unashamedly sob and hug her. Its been so long was all that came out of my mouth. She was my refuge in those days. Sleeping over was almost a daily affair. Escaping chores and scolds.
I had seconds. Been a while since I had second helpings. But the beef was very tender and I really fill up.
Oh, I forgot to mention that I made a detour at Alor Star. Went to see Fazie. Had brunch there. If you wanna call it that. Then I went to Taman Mahkota to see my aunt and cousin. It so happens they were preparing for my aunt's birthday but I couldn't stay. I met Aidil Bakri and Barcroft only, missing out on Basir, Bakhiroh and Annis. Maybe next time.
Well continuing with my tale, after meeting some former neighbours and friends I made a short tour of my old house, or rather my father's property. Its sold now and there now stand a new concrete double storied bungalow. I rode through the old trails and routes I'd used to use, roving around my old neighbourhood. But some are impassable now. The old quarters looks empty though there is a back hoe in the compound. The place looks small, narrow. In the eyes of children, the place use to be vast! Now its small and narrow. Grass browned out, dried by the scorching sun.
I rode out to the main road, remembering that at age 11, I once drove Sheriff's Mini over to father's office. Only timber and fish trucks ply the road in those days. But that was lunch time. So I made it safely across. I remember my father beaming to his office mates about how I made that drive. Tengok anak aku!! hahahaa He didn't scold me. Thats a difference, for once. :))) (to be continued)