My arwah Ayah was struggling to make ends meet and feed us all every single day of the year. I remember that very well since Ayah went away a few years ago. Besides working at the railway station Ayah was always talking about doing business. He would mix herbs, ground them with that old milling machine and “gotel” (mould with your fingers) into small bits that look like goat shit(tahi kambing) and sold them to his friends. So he did that for a while. Then he went into chicken rearing business where he built the chicken scoops all around our house until everything smelled like chicken shit. One time I remember him busy talking about doing business selling house wares in a far away city called KL. Wow! that must be one big city as Ayah kept talking about it day and night. He started buying the house wares soon after that and filled our living room with the stuff. They were that shining silverish thing that people use to wash hands—-the small kettle with a basin. He bought it from Sg Golok and soon will take it to that big city called KL. I dreamt KL must be one nice place where people were tall, beautiful and wearing nice clothes.
I was about 7 years old when father got into that overcrowded mail train to KL. That was the most convenient transport to KL during that time. I was not aware of anybody going to KL by bus or by car—-the Karak highway was notorious for being dangerous and difficult road to follow. So off he went to the place where he knew of no one and doing stuff that was uncommon to him. I remember for being so worried whether Ayah could make it there or not. He brought all of the stuff he bought with him; so how he could manage them all, I was thinking of Ayah. but I could do nothing other just waiting at the stairs for him to come back. School was suck so I would rather wait for Ayah than being scolded at school for being so slow. Besides no body bothered to ask me why I was always sitting by the front door. In a few days Ayah was back. I was glad to see him back safe and sound. I followed him around to hear his stories about KL but he never had time to tell me anything. I just overheard when they were talking about it after the meal; sneaked between the adults I listened about how long and difficult the journey was to KL. Father brought the stuff from one shop to another like a door-to-door salesman. When people asked, “where is your lorry?”, he would say” over there at the corner…..”. He walked all day selling the stuff. he never told us where he slept or rested as we did not have any relative staying in KL…..not that I knew of.
When I bumped into people selling keropok in Shah Alam I would remember Ayah and the days he went off to sell those housewares in KL. it must be very difficult but the poverty and family back home would push these people to the limits. Do you think they make millions? maybe just enough to pay the tickets back plus a few ringgit extra. bt the most interesting part is how KL opened up opportunity for Ayah and us to dream for a better life. Every single person coming to KL with a dream—-to live a good life. When father came back from Kl we had a bit of celebration and that would be all nothing much had changed. He went back to his old job at the station and we were pretty much back to our routines. I wondered if the bussiness stinct in KL had done anything good at all; or maybe he failed and accumulated big debt. Knowing Ayah , he never talked about that to the family and I never heard about trip to KL anymore until he’s gone.