Julian Selvanayagam

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Papa's Journey

Papa began his journey-- with a metal trunk containing his worldly belongings. It was difficult to carry the trunk by hand. It was much easier to carry it on the head-- the balance was better. From Port Swettenham (presently called Port Klang), he walked to Kuala Lumpur, and there he rested for the night. After enquiring from people, he began his journey to Bentong, in Pahang. Papa did not realise what he was in for! It was about 54 miles, through the virgin jungles of Malaya.
He walked through Gombak, and up the Main Range to the Genting Simpah Pass. Then, it was downhill, all the way to Bentong. By the time he reached the Pass, he was so tired and hungry and thirsty. And he did not have anything with him, as he had no money to buy! He found a stream flowing down the mountain side, and he had a drink there. But there was nothing edible that he could find to ease his hunger.

As he continued walking down the rough road that had been built by Indian labourers, he passed a group working on a stretch of road. They used changkols (hoes) to dig the earth, and there were elephants that were used to clear a path through the jungle. As he walked by, some of the Indian labourers asked him where he was going to, and he told them. They were shocked that he was walking alone through the jungle road. They told him that there were tigers and elephants and snakes that could easily kill him.
They suggested that he travel with them later in the day to Bentong. And they asked him if he had eaten any food. When he said that he had not, some of them took pity on him, and shared some rice with him. He was very grateful for this kind gesture. He was able to rest a while, and he began his walk again. He felt very lonely, frightened, and tired. Eventually, he reached the small little town of Bentong. He found a place where he could curl up for the night, and went to sleep.

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