Sunday, April 1, 2007

Abah! Why Are You Going to Tg Malim? 1999. Part 1

My SDARAs got nostalgic few days ago and one of my writings on our train ride to Tg Malim was mentioned and asked. As usual I got me digging my laptop and found it. I ended up rereading and rewriting the piece on the train home. Because it is 7 pages long I am sharing it in three parts.

APRIL 19, 1999

I was dragging myself up from bed this morning. My whole body was aching and the two days experience beginning to seep in. I just wished I could go back to sleep but I can't as I have meetings with outside parties scheduled. I went to bed early last night but not after getting online to make sure Bro Sli was connected to the egroups for he said he will go crazy. His exact words,' Bond kau balik nanti make sure kau bubuh nama aku balik dalam egroups. Kalau tak gila aku nanti di buatnya.' I hope Bro Sli is safe back with his family. So what do I make out of the two days.........................

Well, Tg Malim would never be the same again for me. I tried to live the past through my brothers and I managed to claim a few. At least now I know what they are talking about and what they meant. Relating any stories on Tg Malim to me now would generates a better picture for my brain to comprehend. I could visualize where they are and feel the environment as they are being told. The power of association - living the environment.

APRIL 17, 1999

I overslept, I am a SDARIAN not for nothing, and awaken by my wife. She was saying to me that it was already 6.10 am. I rushed myself to take my bath and pray. Luckily I have packed everything the night before but still I kept on doing a mental auditing to make sure everything is in order. I did not want to miss anything - this is too important to miss. I drove out of the house eager to break the all time land speed limit to get to the railway station but my wife kept reminding me to slow down and take it easy. Believe me at that instance I was not thinking about anything else but the train ride to Tg Malim. The thought of missing the train is beyond me and I would not be able to forgive myself if I did. The feeling is so strong the spirit is high. Up to now my second son kept on asking me why am I going to Tg Malim. 'Abah, kenapa Abah nak pergi Tg Malim?' he kept asking. All he knows it is a place where we stop for kuih pau on our way back from North. Yet, another strange things from his father. If he was confused I was even more confused. Confused in the thought of what to expect. Obviously, I do not have the past to go back to. Nor neither any significant event that revolved around Tg Malim. Accept for the fact it is the place where the formative years of my alma mater taking a new live. Would I be engrossed in experiencing the past with my fellow brothers, would the brothers willing to share their inner feelings so that I could experience them or would I be just like visiting any historical buildings? No, I can't wait anymore to find out. I had to get there immediately.

I rushed out of the car immediately when I got to the station. Picked out my luggage and kissed my children (my wife was given more than a kiss the night before :-))))) ) and off I went to find Abedib or Nan. I found Abedib sitting with a coffee at the station's cafe. In front of him sat one very fit looking guy. 'Ha .. tu pun Bond' said Abedib as I approached them. 'Bond, this is Sli.' At last I met one of the most famous residents of the SDARA Mailing List. I am very sure Bro Nawawi won’t be that nice in describing Sli. But, he was portraying an impression of a nice man.
Which I no doubt he is. Just like I figure a man he would be from the emails he sent us. While eating our breakfast Abedib told me that he could not sleep well and was awake at 4 am. I just smiled, I know I would be the same if Tg Malim was part of my growing up. (BTW, the food at the restaurant was worse than what we had at SDAR.)

SDARA Rosdi and Nan showed up soon after. As we continued to talk I kept on glancing at Abedib’s wristwatch to check the time. Having gone through all these I did not want us to miss the train. At 5 minutes to 7.30 am we started to locate the train. (Budak SDAR punya perangai tak habis-habis last minutes). Like crazy we asked where the train was which was at platform 4. We had to dash across the platform and the train was parked back to back with the train that was going south. The first thing that I said to myself when I saw the train was, 'there is no way we could board the train through the windows'.

Our seats were 9C to 10 D – two rows back to back. As I was throwing my luggage up the luggage compartment a voice from two seats away said, ‘Ho demo.. bangat weh!’. Talk about coincidence just behind Sli and Abedib sat three other SDARAs from Kelantan. Dr Abd Manaf, Sdara Abd Rahman and his son who also a SDARIAN. The coach was not the same anymore for all four of them started to reminisce the old times. Chatting like nobody's business. The rest of the passengers in that koc 2 of the North Bound train must have been wondering why these 7 crazy looking guys doing on the train chatting about Tg Malim like they were kids going there for the first time. The truth to the matter was we were – we were going to be kids again for the next two days.

Nan and I, after the train started to crawl leaving the city behind, were quiet – soaked in our own thought absorbing the experience. Abedib and Sli were still chatting at the back. After a while I cannot stand the urge anymore I had to do the walk. Walking the train like I used to. All memories splashed faster than the train right in front of me as I stood by the door. The door and the steps were something else. Compared to what we used to way back in 1970’s. It was a first class seat. In fact the whole complexion of the train was different. The days of climbing in via the windows, seating on the steps and jumping in and out of moving train are definitely over for us.

The first station that the train stopped was Rawang. I could not recall the time as I was so too deep into my feelings trying to figure out how does it feel to be 13 in 1960’s taking the train for the first time to Tg Malim. I was told by Abedib, that some of them came as far as Tumpat and the whole journey would take them 24 hours. As for me train, just like SDAR, has been part of my growing up. There are so much memories and the relationship had become intimate ever since. The train passed Kuala Kubu Baru at 8.33 am it didn't stop. I heard so much about that station being colonized by another being. It really looks old and not properly maintained. I know the next stop would be Tg Malim so I stood up and started to walk to the door. Once there I lighted up another ‘piak’ – nostalgic fool I was trying to rekindle old memories. But, no matter how hard you want it not to happen you will fail. The association with the environment is so powerful. Especially, when it deals with intense emotion. Even, with the knowledge that Tg Malim is coming fast to be a reality I was transported back to the 70's and started to smile. Well, you know what I mean.

Proceed to Part 2

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