Friday, June 15, 2012

My Life's Journey - The First Train Ride.

 Taking the Express train ride from Pasir Mas to Kuala Lumpur today is reliving the day I took my first train ride out of Kelantan some forty three years ago at the College of Agriculture Malaya, Serdang, Selangor. I will be on my way to a gathering of my classmates who did their Diploma of Agriculture course from 1969 to 1972. It will be our 40th anniversary since we graduated in 1972. The only difference now is that the express train now leaves the Pasir Mas station at 7.15 PM instead of 10.00 AM it used to do in those days. The train will arrive  at KL Sentral instead of the majestic old KL Railway station but arrive at about the same time around 8.00 AM, meaning the journey of old took almost 21 hours compared to 13 hours nowadays. Another significant difference is that the coaches are now air conditioned and the seats are individual  and comfortably upholstered seats unlike the long bench with bare wood. The Pasir Mas railway station itself has undergone tremendous transformation. The old wooden building is long gone due to lack of maintenance and severe termite attack. The platform is as long as the express train length and waiting passengers have shelter from the sun and rain all along the platform. The other difference today is that I am taking the sleeping berth instead of the third class sitting coach. In those days they will let you ride the train even if you have to stand all the way from the point of embarkation to your destination as long as you have a ticket.
 Back to that day forty three years ago, just imagine a nineteen year old boy from the village soon after finishing school setting his foot out of Kelantan for the first time. A whole new world was opening up to me. I was on my way to study at the College of Agriculture Malaya located in Serdang, Selangor, a place I can't even imagine how it looks. The only place that I have ever set foot outside of Kelantan was a trip to Sungai Golok in the south of Thailand with my classmates from Rantau Panjang who considered the town as an extension of his town of Rantau Panjang. We were innocent kids then and didn't have much money to spend on anything beside buying a piece of underwear.
It was a Saturday forty three years ago that I took the express train from Pasir Mas to Kuala Lumpur. To the local the express train is known as the Mail train. Maybe it was used to carry mails back then. I can remember clearly that it was a Saturday in June 1969 but I could not recall the exact date. The black Monday of 13th may 1969 was slightly a month away and everyone in the family and even in the village was apprehensive that I should embark on a journey to Kuala Lumpur which was the epicenter of the riot of May 13th.
The train station was crowded with well wishers sending their loved ones away. I couldn't remember having any member of my family sending me off as on that day as my village being 10 miles away from the station would have cost some money for any of them to travel too. The bus fare for an adult was 50 sen and a ringgit saved for a return journey could be put to better use. For the journey to Kuala Lumpur I had seventy ringgit on me which was a big amount in those day. That was all the family could give me including monetary gifts from well wishers in the village. I remember another friend had his RM100 sewn into his underwear for safety. The fact that there wasn't anybody from the family to send me off didn't bother me as my sweet heart who is now my wife of 39 years and going, was there to see me off.
I had been staying away from home since the age of seven when I began schooling in another village called Kangkong, five miles away with my grandparents. After completing standard four and passing a special exam I was enrolled in a special Malay Class in Pasir Mas at the age of eleven to prepare us to join the standard six of an English Primary school. Upon the advice of my older half brother, my parents had agreed that I should get an English education for a better chance in life. I often wonder how uneducated village folks like my parents could be so forward looking compared to our leaders of today in developing an education policy that would benefit the people. How I wish my children could have the same education that I had to prepare them for their life.
To be continued...
Notes: Some photos will be added later.


Pak Idrus said...

Pak Zawi, thanks for narrating this wonderful story of your adventure into knowledge.

It look like your dad like my dad are visionary by themselves. They saw how important the English language were despite they themselves have little or no education at all.

Do have a pleasant journey. Take care.

Pak Zawi said...

Pak Idrus,
We are definitely very lucky as an English education has definitely open up our world. Unfortunately my children were not so lucky and they are definitely disadvantage by the lack of proficiency in the English language.

adjustable heart said said...

uncle: English education really important nowadays. Last time , when I went to UIA, the foreigner students guide me instead of local students. Luckily, I managed to talk with them using English.

Anonymous said...

Pak Zawi, I have been reading your blog for sometime and appreciate your thoughts, and your blast from the past. Keep on blogging, there are many things that we the younger generation could learn from you.

Yes, English is the passport for a better future. I now live in the US, and used to live in Europe. Even the French and Germans now regret that they were slow to realise the value of the international lingua franca.


Pak Zawi said...

Now you know why English is important. I am glad you are learning English and will be an English teacher one day. You are lucky the foreign students were willing to help you around.

Pak Zawi said...

Thank you for being one of my faithful reader. People like you will always spur me on to continue blogging. I almost gave up blogging thinking that no one will be reading whatever I posted, now I am aware that there are silent readers out there.
Those people whom you mentioned realized their folly for not learning another international language but they are now going all out to learn them. Unlike them we Malaysians know only how to lament about not knowing English without doing much about it. It isn't too late for a policy change by the powers that be. Only sad part is one step forward is always followed by two steps backward.
I will be very happy to have you around the blog.