Wednesday 15 July 2015

Mamat Karim : 1968 - 1973

1968 - 1973

Johor Bharu

My first car was a Ford Anglia. 50’s model, which was advertised for sale, in a petrol station, for RM800. I only sighted the car at night. It had a white paint and looked smart under the lights of the petrol station. After I paid the FULL amount, I drove the car back to my rented house. I had not obtained my driving licence but had a learner’s one. I was excited, just looking at the car. The inside was upholstered with white cloth. It even had a radio. Came morning, I could hardly wait to see it in Its full glory. And man, was I in for a downer. Appearances at night camouflage defects. In the glaring sunlight, the word to use to describe the jalopy’s appearance was “tersopak sini, tersopak sana”, meaning there were significant patches all over the paintwork. After the let-down, my spirits perked up when I took it for a spin. The engine was purring smoothly and the gears were working. I looked at the radio. It was covered with a white cloth casing. When I touched the sides, it felt spongy. Upon examination, the sides of the radio was already melted. But it worked, I could tune it. I had the car for almost a month. One evening while driving along the beachfront headed towards JB town, it began to pour. I turned on the wipers. For a while, all worked perfectly when suddenly, those wipers went berserk. From steady swishing, it went out of control at super high speed. “Plunk”, one wiper got flung out of its socket and I had to turn into a lane and stop the car. I know it sounds fictitious, but no kidding, it really happened. The last straw was when I was at a petrol kiosk and asked the station helper to check the level of the engine oil. Upon checking, he told me, “Encik, tutop minyak hitam takde” (there’s on cap for the engine oil).

I sent the car to a repairer and asked for a quotation for a paint job. He looked at the car and told me not to waste my money in doing up the junk. He said he had a car which I could trade in as an exchange. It was an Austin A40. I was looking at this new baby in bright daylight and she looked sexy. I did not need much persuasion to sign on the dotted line. It was sturdy. The only drawback was the steering wheel. It was big.

I had friends in the Vet nary Department and they were the ones who introduced me to the Nurses Training Centre at the Sultan Aminah Hospital in Johor Bahru. No prizes for guessing whom I met there. Let me say that, If I had known ‘what I was getting into and she knew what she was getting into’ after more than 45 years of marriage, we would do the same all over again. That is hard to beat.

When my second son, Farin, was born, I was approached by the Negri Sembilan State Economic Development Corporation. They were in the process of establishing an economic zone in the District of Kuala Pilah. This comprised the mega Sugar cane plantation and factory in Air Hitam, Bahau and the industrial zone of Dioh in Kuala Pilah. I was offered to run the food processing plant in Dioh. If the terms were acceptable it would mean uprooting my family from the hustle and bustle of Johor Bahru for the unknown outpost of Kuala Pilah, which I had never been before. Furthermore, it meant I had to resign from the security of a cushy, pensionable government job, for an unknown future. My wife too had to get a posting in a vicinity near Kuala Pilah or at worst, in Seremban. It was a hectic week. I had to meet with the then Mentri Besar of Negri Sembilan, the late Dato Mansor Othman, the State Secretary for his assistance in getting my wife’s transfer and SEDC people to facilitate acquiring accommodation in Kuala Pilah. When the decision was arrived at in early 1973, I headed for Seremban while Mariam stayed back in our rented house in JB. We had to vacate my government quarters in Jalan Abdul Rahman Andak.

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