Saturday, September 1, 2007

MERDEKA 50 - VOYAGE 1


Although I was born before Merdeka but on 1957 I was too young to comprehend or even to capture the epic of Independence. In fact I hardly have any attachments or memories of the first Merdeka celebrations or Batu Pahat where I was born.

I remember Kluang quite well because I was there until primary 4. School was fun and nothing to worry, unlike most of my kids today. I hardly remember learning but then remembered well the time I spent catching fish and birds in the secondary jungle and rubber estates near my neighborhood. Yes we played warfare games with neighboring housing estates – raiding their areas with our “senapang kayu “. Technology ? Yes we did make our own wooden motorcycle that glide down from the hilly roads ….. that was fun and like motorcycle GP at that times. I was so playful that when my family decided to move to Mersing, my teacher gave me 50 sen and advised me to behave myself at my new school - not to bring bad names to my Kluang school.

I remember the early good times in Kluang where my father was quite wealthy with Ford Falcon in our garage and changing cars every now and then. We can have anything that we want and even chauffeured driven to school. My father even brought home the Sultan of Johor car for us to take a ride during his peak business collaboration with the Sultan. But then life is a cycle somehow along the line his business came to the lower ebb and I remember hard times too. We survived but the hard way and both my father and mother have to work hard and live in simplicity.

Naturally in bad time the best place to head is your Kampung …. that why we moved to Mersing. In Mersing we got more attached to my mother family and in fact they were very supportive to my family during the trying times. My mother really work hard to keep the family economy going but then my father was kind of lost despite giving his best to help mother in her restaurant business. Here I was a changed person from the playful and careless person to a more responsible person helping out my mother with her business. I was more serious with education and tend to study harder and became more successful then my elder brothers and sisters. Perhaps hardship is a good stimulant for us to perform better. Coming from a big family of 12, I used to complain to my mother on the performance and poor attitude of some of my siblings. Her words always stick to my mind “ Dalam setandan kelapa bukan semua nya elok ada juga yang tidak menjadi “ I guess reflecting her words I must be thankful that I was chosen to be among the good ones not otherwise. From her words again my duty is to help the other family members who are less fortunate then me.

My child hood in Mersing was less playful and fun, except for the island hopping that I did during the weekends with the tourist boat operators. In fact Pulau Tioman, Pu Besar, Hujung, Tinggi, Rawa and the rest of islands offshore Mersing became my playgrounds.
Since I am not much of a sport man I joined the school theatre group and enjoyed the leading roles I played in school drama. We even represented the district to state level drama competition. I was told off by my teacher to focus on my study and stop the drama antics during my MCE year. Looking back I guessed he cared about me and wanted me to do well in the examinations.

I was lucky my hard work paid off when I passed my MCE with good in 1974 and was offered PSD scholarships to UK. It was quite difficult for me to take up the offer because my father passed away on the same year and I was quite reluctant to leave my mother who had to shoulder the big responsibility to feed and educate six other children under me. Of course being a great mother she could not accept my decision to forgo the scholarship. I finally accepted the offer after my uncle and aunties in Mersing told me that they will help my mother on financial or any issues while I am away. I became part of the Malaysian who benefited from the Government policy to send as many as possible Malay rural students abroad.

When I flew to London in 1974 with six other friends to take up shipping course in Liverpool, I created my first millstones by becoming the first boy from Sekolah Menengah Sri Mersing to further studies abroad after MCE. It was a good bench mark for the school because in the following years few more followed my foot steps. It was a big change from Mersing river to Merseyside Liverpool. The home of the Beatles and Liverpool FC.

…….to be continued.

14 comments:

ruby ahmad said...

Salam Jaflam,

Happy Merdeka.

Wow! You said, 'first boy from Sekolah Menengah Sri Mersing to further studies abroad after MCE...well done. Kudos to you.

The Ancient Mariner said...

Aha, this is a very good start.

Sail on, bro.

Anonymous said...

Salam.
Got here from Choc-a-blog. One day many many years ago (?1974) a friend N and I met a few young men who just arrived in London, en route to Liverpool. That was at Malaysia Hall in Bryanston Sq, of course.
Glad to note one of them at least has done well in life, and has taken to blogging!
Regards, H.

Mat Salo said...

Bang Jaflam,

Enjoyed your posting here on the halycon days of the early '60s. I too spent part of my childhood in Johor, albeit in the town of JB of the late 60s. Didn't know you spent time in Mersing. What a coincidence, my wife has plenty of relatives there (maternal side).

Very sad as to what is happening to Kluang these days...

jaflam said...

Dear Ruby,

Thanks for the compliments and dropping by. It’s always great to be the first ... and part of Mersing history.

Selamat bertemu dan menikmati keberkatan Ramadhan Al Mubarak.

jaflam said...

YA, taking from your cue, I thought I must start writing the Voyage before my memory fails me.

Semoga sdr dan keluarga bahagia beramal di Ramadhan Al Mubarak

jaflam said...

Salam H, it was true that the seven of us was at Malaysian Hall for a few days before moving on to Liverpool. Pak Wan of the MSD was very kind to give us the necessary fatherly advice to ensure that we are on course. Although I am still figuring you but I am very happy to meet you at the cyber after all these years ... perhaps we should meet again in the near future God willing.

Best regards to you and N.

jaflam said...

MS, glad to have you back at the cyber space. It looks like we have quite a few common factors ... JB, Mersing, Oil and Gas, Ship & Barge. We must have our teh tarik session to compare notes. Mersing is such a small beautiful town your wife relatives may know my roots after all.

Semoga Ramadhan Tahun ini membawa seribu keberkatan kpd sdr sekeluarga.

Zabs said...

Salam kenal Jaflam,
Saya sampai ke sini dari rubyahmad. Nice to read something that you can relate to. Looking forward to read the continuation of your bigraphy. The sea may be our common factor.
Selamat berpuasa.

jaflam said...

Zabs, thank you for dropping by and Selamat Beribadah & Mendapat Rahmat Ramadhan Al Mubarak. Inshallah will share more on my Voyage & Tales from the Sea in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Salam,

Part of my childhood was in Mersing (mid to late 70s) and I know some of your brothers who were good friends with mine. I particularly remember Rahman - he is such a nice young man with impeccable manners. He would have remembered me as the tomboyish younger sister known as *Tom*.

:-)

SH

jaflam said...

Tom, thanks for the visit. We did went to mersing on third Raya and will share the nostalgic trip here soon. I will ask Rahman about Tom soon. Take care.

colonel said...

Salaam! Ahlan-wa-sahlan
Am just a “lost Mariner” passing through your ocean radar less and enjoying it nevertheless. First thing first. “Kudos” to your very own cyber world with great stuff that makes for both interesting and informed reading. What triggers this unsolicited comment in your remarkable cyber space is that magical line of yours on Merdeka where you intimated that you have no recollection of either attachments or memories on that auspicious day. I have this to share.
About Merdeka, I was 12 years old then. On the morning of 31st August 1957, I was in a small Community Village of Kampung Hubong, Endau Johor, at my late policeman uncle’s barrack. I can recalled that at about the same time the Merdeka declaration was in session at the Merdeka Stadium in KL, I was standing in the barrack compound ( with my lastik around my neck) it was drizzling and behold! I just can’t believe my eyes when I looked in the direction of the sun raising I saw two images of the sun rather than one.

After 50 years, I passed through this fateful village 2 days before puasa recently and told my aunt who was driving, of my merdeka day image. Alas! The hillock that the police station was on is not there anymore.
Wishing you and family the best of Eid Fitri.Salam.

jaflam said...

Dear Colonel, thank you for dropping by and happy to note that you hails memories of kg Hubong, Endau which is part of Mersing district. I guess in 1957 smoke get into your eyes or tears blocking your views of the sun. Looking on we got hardened over the years and tears rains in our heart now. Let’s enjoy our journey without sacrificing our voyage home. Take care.