Julian Selvanayagam

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Life in Kuala Lipis --the Bachelor days.

The beginning years in Kuala Lipis was peaceful for Papa. though there was always the need to save money to send back to Ceylon to his siblings, life was good to him in this new land. As time went by, he began to play soccer and hockey, and later,badminton as well. though food was simple, he was not starving. Slowly, he began to try out the various local food of the Malays and the Chinese. He found that he could enjoy most of these different types of food.

Papa was very focussed. He made sure that he did his job well. He learnt many things from his friend and mentor, Mr. Nadarajah. He began to do well in his departmental exams, and got pay increments. Time went by, and soon he began to get to know many people and have many friends as well. He felt less and less alone. In his heart, though, he continued to nurse his hatred for his Uncle and Aunt back in Ceylon.

Finally, the time came. He had applied to Raffles College in Singapore, to further his education. With all the money that he had saved, and with much encouragement from Mr. Nadarajah and other friends, Papa left for Singapore. It was not as bad as when he first came to kuala Lipis!

Life in Singapore was not easy for Papa. He enjoyed his studies and did well. he also excelled in athletics, soccer, hockey, cricket, and rugby. He also played badminton and tennis. He was a very tough person, and all these sports were very refreshing for him. Meals were provided, and he ate whatever was set before him.

The tough times were during the college vacations! Most of the students had homes to return to, but Papa had no where to go to. He could travel back to Kuala Lipis and stay with Mr. Nadarajah, but it meant spending his hard-earned money. So he chose to stay at the hostel itself. He had to manage by buying cheap food sold in the stalls, or he would buy something and cook a simple meal. Often, it would just be one meal a day, as he wanted his savings to stretch! Papa had very thick, curly hair. Usually, he would allow his hair to grow until it was really time to cut--usually once in 3 months! Sometimes, he would ask some of his classmates to give him a haircut, using scissors. Often, he would have a messy, peculiar haircut--but it never bothered him, even when his friends laughed at him!

Vacation times were the times that he would feel very lonely. So he would bury himself in his books, and spend hours studying. In his final year in College, he had an invitation to stay with a family--Mr and Mrs. S.C. Samuel. He was a Railway Station Master. This time, Papa went for a holiday. The Samuels had three daughters and a son. It was wonderful to be able to visit a family and stay with them. And Mrs. Lucy Samuel was an excellent cook! Papa ate to his fill, and enjoyed every home-cooked meal. It was a real treat for him!!! And he even got to eat chicken and mutton and fish as well! And to top it all, he got smitten by one of the Samuel girls!!! It was like being in heaven! Papa was tall and dark and rough. And he had an unruly curly top as well! He did not think that he had any chances of any response from any of the Samuel girls! It did not upset him at all--this was his best holiday yet! He could go back to College, knowing that he had had some excellent food and some wonderful company!

Soon, College was over. Papa had graduated. He had specialised in English Language and English Literature. Now, he was qualified to be a teacher in a Government English School, anywhere in the Federated Malay States. Papa headed right back to Kuala Lipis! That was the only place that he knew well. He had friends there, and he could apply to teach in the school there. He had made it! He had managed to stretch his money. He could start afresh now.