Julian Selvanayagam

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

1926-- The Great Floods

During the time that Papa worked in Kuala Lipis, there was an event that left an indelible mark on the whole town!

The monsoon had started, and the rains were pouring down. Day and night, the rains continued. The level in the two rivers began to rise and rise. Soon, it had reached Jelai Street, and it was still rising. People were evacuated to higher ground. The rising waters were almost reaching Main Street. There was panic and people did nor know what to do. The waters came on to Main Street, but fortunately, the Police Station was a few feet higher. Finally, the rains subsided, and the water level began to recede. Even to this day, the water level is marked on the buildings, to remind the people of that frightening experience of the people of Kuala Lipis.

There have been many floods in Kuala Lipis since that time, but none have ever reached the level of the Great Floods of 1926!

New Beginnings

Papa was very well looked after by his friend. Mr. Nadarajah told Papa to rest for a few days, and to be refreshed. He told Papa that he would try to get him a job as soon as possible. So after a week of rest, Mr. Nadarajah came home with the good news that there was a job available as a junior clerk in the Police Station itself. Papa got the job, and began working as a junior clerk. His first pay was Straits Dollars Twenty! To Papa, it was such a great blessing.

Within a short while, Papa did very well in his job, and was confirmed. After one year, he was promoted to being a clerk. His pay was now Straits Dollars Twenty Five. He worked very diligently, and he was very frugal. He managed to send money to Ceylon to support his siblings in school. He also managed to save some money for his future as well. He had very simple meals, and he lived a very simple life. He tried to save every cent that he could. His friend, Mr. Nadarajah, was very kind and helpful to him, and always encouraged him.

Monday, July 04, 2005

The Final Leg-- Raub to Kuala Lipis

When Papa woke up in the morning, he felt much better! Some one had reached out to him and helped him. It lifted his spirits,and there was a sense of hope now. This kind man and his wife asked Papa to stay for a day or two, to be refreshed, before he continued his journey. Papa thanked this couple profusely for their hospitality and kindness to him. He was very grateful to them, but he wanted to reach his destination as soon as he could. So this couple packed some rice and vegetables in banana leaves, gave him a bottle of water, and gave him some money as well. Papa was overwhelmed, and was in tears, at their kindness.

The final leg had begun! He had no idea as to what lay ahead of him. He knew of the many dangers that he could face along the way. But he had to press on! So with the trunk on his head, he was on his way.

This time, he passed three groups of labourers working to improve the rough road that was there. He took his breaks near these groups of workers for safety. The workers encouraged him on, and that helped him. It was a long and weary walk, lonely, tiring, and frightening. This time though, he had some food to eat, and water to drink.

Eventually, he reached the town of Kuala Lipis! Now, he had to locate his friend who was working in the Police Station. When he finally found the Police Station, he asked for Mr. Nadarajah. Someone at the Police Station took Papa to the quarters where Mr. Nadarajah was staying. When he finally met Mr. Nadarajah, he wept with joy. He had finally arrived at his destination-- alive!!!

Mr. Nadarajah and his friends were amazed when Papa shared with them about his journey from Port Swettenham to Kuala Lipis.

They gave him a room to stay in, and after a bath, they gave him dinner, and he went to sleep. He was very tired, but he was overjoyed that he had made it! That night, he slept very soundly.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Bentong to Raub

When Papa woke up in the morning, he was really feeling very sad and miserable. He was wondering if he had made a mistake leaving Ceylon. At least there, he had a job, his siblings were there, and he had food to eat, and water to drink. Now, he had nothing! He looked around, and found a public tap, and he took a good, long drink there. But he was not able to get any food to eat. There were Malays and Chinese people there,but he could not communicate with them. When he found an Indian man, he asked for directions to Raub.

Again,he began his trek. He knew that it was a shorter journey than the previous day's one. And that was a big relief to him. Again, it was through the thick,virgin jungles of Pahang. There was danger all along the way, from wild animals. This time, he passed two groups of labourers, along the way. He managed to drink water from some streams along the way, but he was not fortunate to get any food along the way.

The trunk felt heavier and heavier,as time went by. He felt afraid of making a wrong turn, and getting lost in the thick jungle. He determined to push on. He took short breaks to rest, and then, he pushed on. He saw a small herd of wild elephants along one stretch, and he ran and hid in the bushes. After they had gone off, he resumed his journey.

Eventually, he reached Raub. He was really tired and very hungry, as he had not had any food to eat that whole day. He met an Indian man, and in desperation, asked him for some food to eat. The man asked him where he was coming from, and when Papa explained his situation, this man asked him to follow him to his home. There, his wife gave him food to eat and water to drink. He had a bath-- his first since he began his journey from Port Swettenham! They gave him a mat and a pillow, and he slept soundly in this home.