HOW many of us take pain to know about our home and specifically the very zone or village where we are in? For all purposes we have lived in the area for over decades yet we failed to recognize its origin and much more identify the personalities within. No doubt you may recognize Pak Ma'e ( Ismail), Pak Mud ( Mahmud), Pak Ya ( Yahya or Zakaria), Tok Imam, Tok Penghulu, Mak Cik Mah ( Amah), Mak Yam ( Mariam), Uncle Lee, Madam Ramasamy whom you meet most days. You meet many more at functions such as 'khenduri', Friday Prayer sessions or at the market place. You exchange niceties, sweet words and greetings, even the graceful 'salam' and intimate embrace. It seems to stop at that only.
The community comes together during the annual AidilAdha in conjunction with 'korban'. Here in the compound of Tun Dr Mahathir they helped to distribute portions of meat. The spirit of gotong royong is still steadfast here
More comforts and facilities come each passing day. The new 'Putrajaya' of the north has also open its doors to the community. Federal government offices have come very close to home being at Bandar DiRaja Anak Bukit. Soon enough even a railway station will be built here. Then only people would realize that it has come to replace the one that went out of commission before Merdeka 1957.
Friends from across the Causeway found themselves at the back of the house with the greens to lure them to a resort setting. Bamboo trees fringing the riverside seems to add a tint of luxury to what is only a kampong enclave.
Once in a while incidents do happen. We had floods in 1988, 2005 and quite recently this excursion bus came to a halt right into one of the homes along the main road. No injury to anyone but half of the wall of this house was pushed aside.
An old 'ketam' ( planner) which you may not easily find even how hard you try. No carpenter would use such a contraption now. Finding one, would mean you have come across a house-builder who once built wooden Malay homes with such skills that make them a living tradition. I expect there are those men in our kampong who spent their youthful years building such building which are still standing.
Considering the place where we live is called 'Titi Gajah' thus the close affinity with the name associated with that largest of the land animal. Aristotle once said that elephants are beast which passeth all others in wit and mind' Mind you a most popular 'sarong' in the market is traded as 'Gajah Duduk" too. Two exciting resorts in Bali catering for the higher market are known as "Chendi Tanah Gajah" and " Villa Gajah Putih". Rest assured others working and living in zones replicating the elephant are just as happy and assured by their progress and standing. Still there are much more to know about the place we live in. Skimpy anecdotes are short changed.
Quite recently, I began to get closer to the people around my home hoping to discover who they are before they settled here. With the tides of time washing away past episodes, many of the men were reluctant to bare their stories, many excusing as none to reveal, though I know each and everyone of them has a story to tell.
Pak Ya and friends visited the Shaw's Studio in Singapore and guess whom they met?
I believe many of his close door neighbors have no idea of his past and for a man coming close to his octogenarian years what's there to brag about! Seriously and sadly even his children failed to fathom the rich and colorful live their dad had experienced. Who failed in discerminating the story?
Now with copying, editing, resizing and touch-ups they can be made enticing and newsworthy. For that matter Pak Ya lives again. The photographs that I acquired from him and appearing here brought back memories. We are brought back to times when our young men braved obstacles and languages, yet dared to serve and venture afield. He enlisted in the British Army and was posted to Singapore. Pak Ya and his colleagues had even a taste of soldiering and duty in Hong Kong with the British Royal Air Force , cruised on ocean liner of the time which many of us would give anything to have a taste of. Flights are too common while sea cruise is a luxury now. Yet to reveal his adventure and camaraderie as a forester in Jabatan Perhutanan Negara. While many of us continues to only admire the frolic and crooning of 'seniman negara' Tan Sri P.Ramlee from films and videos, Pak Ya had on all account visited the once popular Shaw's studio at Jalan Ampas in Singapore and met the singer himself.
There are surely more of such personalities amidst us and sadly their stories left untold, leaving a vacuum of things and happenings that have taken place. Earlier writers and authors who documented account of happenings, cultures and scenes of the country and South East Asia as a whole remained esteemed for their contributions. Now if the 'Mat Salleh' explorers, civil servants and visitors can go down to the fields engrossed with stories to tell, then and now, why do we become otherwise? Bookworms we are, but writers and researchers not.
My adventures with the elders in the mukim continues; each person I choose to know will help to make this 'Gajah' entity a known factor. Far greater "Ayah Pembangunan Negara Malaysia" is a homo sepian who also hails from here too. Like others he came and settled here with his family. Many others like Pak Ya will come forth if we endeavour to seek and search. Never mind that they are not senior ranking officers or leaders but foremost they have unheard stories to be resolved.