Dok pi dok mai blog Kak Teh, baca her Malay sailors' story, reminded me of my own sailor story. But then again, my story is not as good as Kak Teh's. Just a matter of putting it down as a remembrance of the good old days.
When I was in form 3 (I think, it seems such a long time ago *sigh*), one of my senior kakak, said to me that he would like to ask his younger brother to be my pen friend. Aku agak Kak Ram ni berkenan kat aku yang masa tu cun melecun kut. Mana lah tau entah-entah dia nak jadikan aku ni adik ipar dia, hehehe. Actually she wanted him to improve his English thru writing, that was what she told me anyway, why she chose me over the other girls, I have no idea lah. I said OK to her, I didn't really mind to make new friends. I thought it would be fun as long as the content of the letters were clean and friendly. Back then in the hostel, we were not allowed to seal our letters when we want to send out, the teachers assigned would first screen the content before sealing the letter to be sent out. In-coming letters would also be opened first before we received it. Anedra, was it the same during your time?
She gave me his name and address. Weeks passed by, there was nothing from mamat adik Kak Ram, she asked me, whether I had written to him. Aku jawab sajalah, "Kak Ram, takkan saya yang perempuan ni nak tulis dulu. Dia lah kena tulis dulu". Jual mahal pulak aku ni, masa tu , tarik harga konon...
One day, I was taking a nap and someone woke me up and said Kak Ram wanted to see me. I was like "what, me with the muka bantal to go to see her?" "No way!" Since she kept on calling, I went over to the window to look down. My dorm was on the 3rd floor. She just came back from her hometown, she was unloading her things from the car boot. There was a guy standing beside her at that time. I called down to her, she and the mamat looked up. She said, "N, ni my brother MT" I waved at him and said hi. He smiled and said hi back. Not bad, tall, dark and not hodoh (tak lah handsome macam Brad Pitt or Keanu Reeve, but pleasant looking). Friendship started from there, we wrote regularly and when he came to visit his sister, we had a chance to talk. I was like a very shy, shy cat kind of gal, he was really friendly and pleasant.
After his SPM, he went to work with the MISC (Malaysian International Shipping Corporation, is it?), working on board ships, cargo ships, freights etc. We kept corressponding, he even taught me how to look from the paper when he would be on shore. He would write to say which Bunga ship (MISC's ships are named after the Malay flowers like Bunga Raya, Bunga Melor etc), he was working and how I could trace his landing ports for the journey. I used to get excited when I knew when he would dock in Port Klang or Singapore, because I knew that he would come by to see me. It was nice to hear his adventure stories then, because I was like a katak bawah tempurung and here was a guy who had been travelling all over the world, seing foreign places. Had to smile and interject comments once in a while to stop the drool from flowing and not to look stupid.
Our friendship continued until I was in ITM. I remember, when he came to visit we were talking on the top of the stairs overlooking the hostel. He was at that point was telling me of a girl he knew and I got the message that he was very much interested in her, although he said he was treating her like a sister. I had always treated him like a friend, never more than that so I told him to go ahead and get serious. Sort of give him the blessing.
Don't really remember how we finally lost touch. Maybe he stopped writing or I stopped replying to his letters. I wish right now I have kept his contact, maybe now we could e-mail rather than write a letter. By now he would be in his 50's. Retired from his wandering days perhaps, settled down somewhere with kids and who knows grandchildren. He sure would have lots of stories to tell them all. He could talk for hours, when we met, and me the normally talkative one would just be gaping (almost opened mouth) listening to him.
MT, I don't know where you are, I hope you are well and happy right now.