Planned because it was during Hari Raya 'Eidulfitr that Car9 called me and told me that he had just visited Ustaz Mahadi Minhad( in Alor Star), our former hostel master cum guardian in SAHC back in the mid-to-late 70s. And he told me that our dear ustaz did asked about me: "Kawan hangpa hat jadi doktot tu dok mana la ni?", which Car9 told him that I am in Melaka(and most probably I'll die and be buried in Melaka too,Wallahu'alam).
And Car9 also mentioned to me: "Woi! 24 hb sebelaih nanti ustaz nak buat gheja kawin anak dia hat bongsu tu. Dia suruh aku jemput sapa-sapa yang dok hostel masa time dia dulu. Hang kena pi kali ni pasai hang tak penah jumpa ustaz lepaih taon 80 dulu!" So I told Car9: "InsyaALLAH aku akan pi."
And I planned to go up north for the kenduri. No,its not to go and eat nasi minyak with gulai rebung. Its just to meet ustaz again and meet old friends whom most of them I haven't seen since 1980!Now that is a long 27 years and I'm not sure if I can recognise their faces or not.Or even their names.But one thing for sure I'll remember their nicknames.
Then about a month ago, my kuliah sahabah(who I just found out that he is also my mum's cousin) told me, Hj Usop and Pak Karim that his son is getting married on the 25th November,in Kangar. Ah!!What a nice coincidence,I told myself. On the 24th it'll be Ustaz's kenduri in Alor Star and on the 25th it'll be Chot's kenduri in Kangaqr.
About 10 days ago, Pak Karim got a message from his son. Pak Karim just got as new granddaughter(his 4th),in Alor Star.MasyaALLAH! This piece of news just made the trip more likely.
So we(me,Hj Usop and Pak Karim) planned and planned and planned. Initially there were a few more guys like Hj Salim and Dr Yunuih and Hj Rahim who was eager to go to Kangar but somehow they can't make it at the 11th hour. Dah tak dak rezeki.
Then on the 20th November at 6.30 am I received a sms message from my brother Bali. He told me his bro-in-law,Aziz had gone to the otherside to meet his Creator at 4.30am that day, in Kg Beseri,Kangar. Innalillahi wa inna ilaihi roji'un. I told Bali I can't go to Perlis that day. But deep inside,I knew I have to make this trip to utagha.
That night, I called my other bro,Jan to see how he is doing. He had been having this leg and loin pain with nightmares for 21/2 months. And his nighmares are getting worst by the day. A black cobra,a black wild boar and a black dog kept appearing in his nightmares.And his legs are getting worse with wastings of fat and muscles over the legs. He had seen 3 specialist in Taiping and Ipoh and they too are puzzled. His blood results and X-Rays and MRIs are all normal. He is using a walking stick for the last 2 weeks or so.
Ah!! I have to go back and see my little brother who is suffering in silence.Yes,in silence. Since he was a kid, he rarely made people know he is in pain.And he'll just smile when ppl asked him how is he today? But his eyes will tell you he is in pain. He is like Bapak. They will smile to cheer others.
Now, I have no reasons at all to cancel this trip. I have 2 kenduris.I have a bereaved family to see and I have my little brother who is suffering from ALLAH knows what, to give him some moral support.
Me,Pak Karim and Hafiz started off from Jebatville and had ashort stop at Dengkil RnR, a newly re-built RnR. Its nicer now with nice landscape around it( maybe Wak Pinter might not think so, tak gitu Wak?). We had solat 'Asar the qasar-way before we continue by the Guthrie Highway. There was a crawl from Rawang sector to Behrang.The roadworks. PLUS is upgrading and widening that stretch before they can increase the toll rate. Our next stop was Tapah RnR for solat jamak Maghrib and 'Isya and for dinner. We reached Taiping at 11pm. Mak and my sis was waiting for us. I told mak we were going to Alor Star and Kangar and asked her to come along. She agreed for she too wanted to visit her younger sister,my aunt who took care of me in 1975 for 6 months before I was admitted into the hostel of SAHC. Mak said, Makcik Jah just had her cataract removed a week ago and is now recuperating.
I called Chot in Kangar and told him I'm taking my mother along to his reception.Chot was excited and said YES! Do bring my mak for Chot's sisters will be there in Kangar too, and they too are eager to meet Mak again, their long lost cousin. 24th November,Saturday 2007.
We had capati for breakfast in Kamunting Foodcourt centre, then to Jan's place nearby. He was frail and walking with a stick.With each step I can see him in pain but he kept on smiling. And his eyes showed he hadn't had any good sleep for weeks. I gave him several medications which I brought along from Jebatville. I told him and his wife ,if he doesn't mind I would like to bring him back to Jebatville for treatment. He and his wife said, they'll think about it, but if its the Raya Haji week then they have no problem. If its tomorrow then it might be a bit difficult. Well, I understand and let them decide, I told them.
We then took the PLUS highway to Alor Star with a stop in Gurun RnR for lunch( mana cukup 2 keping capati saja for breakfast). Now, Gurun RnR is a suprise to me. The lauk-pauk there made me want all. There's ikan keli bakar with ayaq asam for cicah, there's gulai ikan with thick gravy. There's lempong/pelampong/paru-paru goreng. There's nangka masak lemakcabai Melaka and gulai rebung. My mouth is watering again as I write this.
I called Car9. He was at the Juru toll. With him was Tok Arab and Pa Ahmad. Car9 reminded me that we'll meet in Masjid Taman Uda at 3pm. Okay, I said.
I called my cousin Eda,and told her we'll be in Alor Star by 2.30pm and I needed her to guide me to her place.As promised, we were at her house by 2.30pm. Makcik Jah was there and she sure was suprised by our visit. She cried when she saw me and Mak. Iknew, she have a lot to tell me about her health and about Pakcik's death( Pakcik is the actor Zulkifli Ismail's [of Gerak Khas] father). After saying Hello and Hai to my anak-anak menakan, I excused myself,Pak Karim and Hafiz. We need to go to Taman Uda,Jalan Sultanah/Day for Ustaz'sMinhad reception. As we have promised to meet in the mosque, I stop over masjid Sultanah Bahiyah and we had solat Jamak there.
But I couldn't find Car9 or the others inside or outside the mosque.After 5 minutes,Car9 called me: " Woi!!Hang tang mana?"
TA: "Aku tang mesjid la.Hangpa di mana? Aku tak nampak pun kelibat hangpa. Gheta hang pun aku tak nampak"
Car9:"Laa..kami pakat di mesjid la ni. Kami dok melilau cari nag haram takdak pun?
TA:" Aku dok di tempat parking mesjid la..."
Car9:" Hang di mesjid mana ni? Kami di masjid Taman Uda. Hang mesjid mana?"
TA:" Aku pun tak tau semejid apa ni...ni hat dekat ngan gate ghetapi tu..."
Car9:" Laa...tu mesjid Sultanah Bahiyah. kami di mesjid Taman Uda. Hang patah balik, nanti hang nampak stesen Esso dan Shell.Antara 2 stesen tu hang masuik kiri ,hang akan nampak mesjid tu."
TA:" Laa...mesjid lain ropanya aku singgah. Okay takpa. Lagi 5 menet aku sampai. Roger!"
And we met near Masjid Taman Uda ,finally. Waiting for me was Tok Arab and Ajit Arshad. And then car9 with Art Capang joined us. There was another group of guys which I remember them as a year our junior. there was Amir samad, Azmi Baba,Hasbullah and few others which I can't remember their names. Then came along our senior Wan Ninety and Mat Bear.
At Ustaz's place, I was most probably the happiest person( well maybe the pengantin is the happiest person). I met so many old friends which I haven't met for more than 27 years. Kri Mugenm, Hashim Badak, Mat Di Put, Li Kent*t, Syed Hassan,pak Korg Ussolli, Jalil Besi,Alim bantot, Mahadi Jalut,Chop Chong,Zainon Non, Ark Besi Megat Dewa,Nasir Mohd. We talk and talk and talk and made jokes and asked about this guy and that guy. who is doing what and who had how many wives . And Ustaz keep coming to us and making small enquries about us. And we made jokes t those who brought the cigarettes out: "Woi...sapa isap rokok,malam ni lepas solat 'Isya kena berdiri depan saf dan kena rotan pungkoq"( for back in our hostel days, those caught smoking, will be caned after solat Isya infront of everyone.)
By 5.30pm it was time to say goodbye to each other. We took each others' handphone numbers and we salam and peluk our dear ustaz. Its hard to contained one's emotion in this reception. We do not know when we'll meet again. We do not know the next news we heard will be a good one or a sad one. And me, the furthest among us, really do not know if I will ever see my fellow Collegians again. It was with a heavy heart I said goodbye to my mates. Those boys that I grew up with, feeding on nasik kawah, playing football together, bathing and washing our school uniforms together, going to cinema together. All these I kept tightly in my memories, never to let it go.
Then , we next went to Pak Karim's daughter in-law with her new born little girl. After asking around and missing a few streets, we found her house. PaK Karim's DIL was waiting for us. His cucu was fast asleep. Little Qistina.
Pak Karim picked Qistina up and held her close to him. He had finally seen his new granddaughter. How he loved her. I can see in his eyes.The sparkle or a proud grandpa. We were there for 45 minutes before we bade goodbye to little Qistina and back to Eda's place.
She was preparing dinner. Seafood dinner. There's sup ketam, lala goreng kunyit,seafood tomyam and sotong, udang and ikan bakar being prepared by my other cousin, Zaidi( Eda's brother). The 7 kids( Eda's 5 and Zaidi's 2) were enjoying themselves with gherek bicycles and running around the BBQ set. Dinner was delicious. I tried reading Awng Goneng's GUIT but had to stop after one page. I was damned sleepy.Luckily we had jamak solat during maghrib, otherwise it will be bye-bye to solat.
25th November, Sunday.
Pak Karim woke me up at 6.45 am for solat subuh. At 7.15 am, Mokhtar(Eda's hubby) went out with his kapchai. To buy breakfast.And newspapers. Mokhtar bought us roti canai( which is 90 sen a piece in most Aloq Staq's stalls), some kueh and a big suprise. Pulut kukus with nyiok parut and ikan tamban masin goreng!Now, this is one old traditional breakfast in Kedah especially northern Kedah. My last breakfast of pulut with tamban goreng( and sambal blacan too) was maybe about 30 years ago, when I was staying with Cik Jah in Gunung Gheyang( G.Keriang). I told Hafiz of this meal and he was eager to try.
9.30am we bade goodbye and I promised Cik Jah and Eda, I'll come again if I happen to be in Kedah. There was the customary salam and peluk with Cik Jah. We took Jalan Langgar and drove by SAHC.I showed Hafiz my alma mater.It was still the same grand school,at least in appearance. I heard its academic results is nothing to shout about. We went to Pekan Rabu complex( as Pak Karim had never been there) and bought SepatRonggeng for Mrs TA. Pak Karim bought something which look like a kurta. Mak bought some minyak gamat.
Later on our way to Kangar, I took the route via Gunung Gheyang(Gunung Keriang). I need to see that grand solitary gunung right in the vast padi plains and the house which I spent my early 6 month of Aloq Staq life. The house is still there. Cik Jah had rented it out.I stood there in front of the house and old memories came flashing in my mind. My old Gunung friends. Lan Mak Piah, Azmi bahari, Rusli Bahari and few others whose faces I remember to this day but can't recall their names. These were guys who took me to the padang( padi fields) to look for anak semilai/anakkarin( ikan laga) or to catch sepat ronggeng or puyu or ikan rruan( haruan). I sometimes followed them to mandi ayaq ban( tali air) or chase away birds from eating our padi. These were guys who took me to mandi ayaq mata ayaq from the spring pond at the foot of GunungGheyang. I heard some had gone to KL and some in Penang and some in Alor Star.
After 20 minutes there, we proceeded to Kangaq via Aloq Jangguih(Alor Janggus), Ayaq Itam, Kerpan and Kuala Sanglang. I showed Hafiz the roads leading to Kg Lanabulu and the one to Megat Dewa. There were 2 roadblocks and I thought could it be due to Hindraf thing?
Perlis, like Kedah, you see padi fields around you with occasional islands scattered on these vast fields. Islands which housed 2-3 houses surrounded by coconut tress blown by the passing winds.
Near Behor Temak just before enterinh Kangar proper I stopped and called Hj Usop. TA: " Salam syeh! Hang ada tang mana ni?"
Usop: " Kami baru lepaih Jetera(Jitra). Hang ada mana? Hang tunggu aku tang stesen Petronas Mail okay. Mail Behor Temak".
TA: " Aku memang ada depan stesen Mail Behor Temak la syeh. Hang tau dak stesen dia tang mana?"
Usop: " AKu tak tau. Aku tak pernah pi pun stesen dia!"
TA:" Laaa....aku ingat hang tau. Okay hang teroih saja nanti lepaih pekan Changloon ada simpang masuk kiri. Hang amek simpang tu dan akan masuk 'highway' Perlis.Hang teroih saja sampai hang nampak signage ke Kangaq,hang turun highway tu masuk kanan. Aku tunggu lebih kurang 1 km dari situ."
After half an hour, Usop and his family arrived and we continue to 'look' for Chot's house in Taman Sena. I have been to Kangaq several times but never in the real sense 'ronda-ronda' around Kangaq. But as a small town, Kangaq is easy and within 10 minutes we were at Chot's reception.
Chot was there attending to his many guests. We gave salam and the customary handshake with an envelope. Chot then took Mak to see his sisters. When Mak saw her cousins and an aunt there, it was a very emotional moment for them. I think they haven't seen each other for more than 40 years and they had a lot of catching up to do.
I told Chot and Hj Usop I can't stay long.I had to go to Beseri. I need to visit Pak Sharif who lost a son and Besah who lost a husband. I had no difficulty to Beseri( there's a MRSM and SM Sains Perlis there), but had to drive carefully once I enter the kampong. We had to drive through padi fields . The tar road was narrow, just enough for one car. I am not sure what to do if there is another car from the opposite side. We can't just gostan through the winding and narrow road. And I wonder how on earth the Beserians manage to overcome this problem.
Pak Sharif, Mak Jah and my sis-in-law was at home waiting for us. Bali,my brother was still in Padang Besar( for beras wangi ,pulut and pulut hitam). We gave our takziah to Pak Sahrif's family. Mak chatted with Mak Jah .Me,Pak Karim and Hafiz sat with Pak Sharif at the front pelantar(balcony).After Bali came back from Pdg Besar we went to Besah's place and offered our takziah. Allahyarham Aziz had 2 daughters. The kakak sulong is in UiTM Shah Alam doing Sports Management. The second one is sitting for her STPM. On the day Aziz died adik was sitting for her second paper~ Pengajian Am. Both were helping their mak to organise their lives. They are lucky that Pak Sharif and Mak Jah is there. And Bali with his wife is helping out a lot.
At 5.00pm, we had to leave Kangar. We need to drop Mak in Taiping before continuing our journey back to Jebatville. The traffic on PLUS was heavy especially from Sg Petani to Juru toll. Alhamdulillah it didn't rain and there was no accident,so our journey was smooth. We reached Taiping at 8.30pm after stopping at Gunung Semanggol/Tasik Merah RnR for solat.
9.30 pm. We started off from Taiping. We were tired(and sleepy), so me and Pak Karim drove alternately. Managed to get a few winks. My neck and body was aching.Eventhough I was sleepy, I can't sleep due to the neck pain. A nice warm bed would be nice....but we are still far away from home. Too far from comfort.
Finally, at 4.00 am we arrived safely to Melaka. I dropped Pak Karim in DT and I continued towards home. By the time I went to bed it was after subuh at 5.45am. And I have 3 circumcision to do the next morning!!
To be this trip was berbaloi. I managed to visit my brother Jan, my makcik and her children in Aloq Staq, took Pak Karim to see his cucu , went to 2 kenduris and visit Allahyarham Aziz's family. Mission accomplished.