I walked slowly back to my seat. When I got there Kelumpang came into view and Sli said it would be 7 more miles. ‘Aku tahu lagi tujuh batu. Because I walked once from Kelumpang to Tg Malim. We were camping somewhere in Kelumpang then.’ Sli started to narrate us another adventure of his while he was active in the Boys Scout. According to Sli they were camping in a valley in between two rivers. Suddenly, during the night the rain started to fall and the water rises faster than they anticipated. They were caught and it seemed there was no way out except to find a way to cross the ravaging river. They were out of their wits trying to do something but the river did not cooperate and kept on washing away their attempts. Thank God they have one McGyver with them (I think the series was based from this incident. But Sli refused, he rather be a Pharmacist). Anyway, there were two trees slanting across the river and touched each other at the top. The planned was for this McGyver to climb the tree from one side cross to another tree and got down to the other side and go for help. The situation was tense and that was their only chance for survival. Nevertheless, the McGyver made it and the rest of the gang was rescued by the police. If you met Sli he will tell you all the gory details and he was the hero of course. On cue, as soon as Sli finished with his story Tg Malim came into sight.
We were laughing, grinning from ear to ear and crying at the same time. It was a very touching moment for some of us and the emotion took over instantly. Words were flying around describing the old railway stations and the historical events that came along with it. Some of us couldn't believe the station is that small. As usual the people at the stations as well as on the train were amazed to see our antics and they could not help but smiling.
I watched the train moved out of the station and was surprise to see that it was only about 5 coaches long. I am so used to the old way of walking the train from end to end that the thought of the train is getting shorter really amazed me. It could be an economic consideration on the part of KTMB or it could be that nobody likes to take train anymore.When the train was gone I saw all sorts of expression from everyone. I can only interpret them but they knew for sure how it was and what's the feeling. Everyone was tripping each other to start walking their memory lane. 'Station keretapi ni nampak kecik la', said Sli. Everyone was talking at the same time describing what it used to be so much so I forgot everything now. Just like Nan said their faces - the expression really were telling. I saw a deep thought trying to place old memories together, a 'damn! I took all these for granted and now I am crying inside' look, and the face that actually was crying. I was touched by the spontaneous aura created around me and it made me forgot to take a short of the historic coming home. It put even more weight to my conviction of coming to Tg Malim. Bro Rosdi chose to remain at the station a little bit longer and we continued our walk. 'Sli! since you were the longest here why don't you lead the way', Abedib gave a suggestion. Even before Abedib said that Sli was already skipping away and then we heard. 'Alamak! panggung Rex ada lagi la!', yelled Sli. I guess after 30 years or so that was Sli's first time having opportunity to go around Tg Malim. Again an endless story telling session bombarded our ears. Abedib started to tell us his movie list and an endless heros and heroines that I have never heard off. The best one was about how Bro Aziz Bai became the ticket rusher for 'budak SDAR' and he charged RM 0.05 for every ticket. Well! SDARA from Seremban let me tell you this. Black marketing was even bigger then, as big as the value of 5 cents. It was really a pleasure witnessing all these. If my experience in Seremban, with the hustler, is any indication I could picture Bro Aziz Bai in his elements hustling Hidustani movie tickets beside the Rex. I didn't plan it but as I was looking at the Rex, through the view finder of my camera, I was also visualizing the moment of that time. I could see SDARAs in their school uniform rushing to buy tickets, some of them already engaging Aziz Bai, I could also see some of them eating 'ice kacang' and of course one or two SDARAs trying to act manly by smoking behind the Rex. I know now it was just my imagination but I could have not been that far away off from the truth.
Abedib, Sli, Dr Abd Manaf, Bro Abd Rahman were practically living their memories right in front of Nan and me. Oblivious of the surrounding - why should they. They were thirteen or fifth teen again nobody could take that away from them. I could see that all the hassle and journey all the way form Kelantan were paying dividend immediately. A life time chance to be back where you were before. Abedib was trying very hard to figure out where the 'ice kepal/kacang' stall used to be. I could feel that the stall meant a lot to him but I do not want to probe in deeper. Where ever we went Sli kept on saying that everything seem to be smaller. 'Hah! Sli ni dia yang makin tua tak sedar dia cakap semua benda kecik.' said Abedib. I purposely stayed at the back to let them enjoy the moment. The thought of whether they are willing or not to share their inner feelings about Tg Malim was unfounded. It was all over Tg Malim that morning for everyone to see.
Suddenly, we heard a yell like those thirteen year old happened to find something that he was not expected to. 'Dib! Dib! Kedai Razak ada lagi Dib!', it was Bro Sli (sorry Bro Sli it is not my intention to make fun of you but these what I saw and heard). According to them it was the same Kedai Razak. Just like Restaurant Negeri for us in Seremban. Forget about the breakfast we just had in KL or the drinks on the train. Everyone just walk to the nearest table as if there was magnet that pulled us in. As if they knew that we were special that day the Mamak was really treating us like Kings. Or maybe we were too obvious.....LOL. Anyway, Sli took the lead to ask the Mamak whether he was the same mamak back then only old now. The mamak concurred and they started to trade old stories. Long lived Kedai Razak.
As we ate, again the stories began to flow as consistent as the Roti Canai going into our stomach. Sli reminisced about the RM 0.10 roti canai and RM 0.25 mee goreng he used to eat there. Today, by comparison, the roti canai is RM 0.60 and RM 2.00 for the mee goreng. The other difference I guess the clients and the cook are getting older. No body commented whether the taste was the same but I it could be irrelevant as SDARas could eat anything. This was where also we started to catch up on our friends who could not make it to Tg Malim. Obviously, Nan and I didn't know who they were but the stories were interesting all the same. The stories came full circle when Sli began to tell us of how he got his zip on the chest. Luckily, Abedib reminded us that we have got to move on if not we would be just contented to be there for the endless story telling. Actually, after thought, I should have known by then that the homecoming could also have been a weekend of never ending story telling sessions. It was, everyone was a very good story teller and only a few of us from Seremban the listeners.
Proceed to Part 3