The past ten days had been very eventful. It started with my return to Kuala Terengganu to visit my mother. I went there on a motorcycle. More economical that way since I went there alone, could not bring my family along because it was still school term.
The next morning I decided to ride 110 kilometers up north to Jerteh, the town where I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and attended primary school. My intention was to visit my uncle Hassan. And also to meet my long-time schoolmate, classmate and village buddy Baharum, whom I had not seen for many years.
I wrote my intentions in our primary school WhatsApp group. When I arrived at Kampung Raja I saw on the phone that apart from Baharum, another classmate Rehani was also available to meet me. That was great. I had not seen Rehani since we parted ways 44 years ago.
We met at a restaurant in Seberang Jerteh, chosen by Rehani.
A meet in Seberang Jerteh. L-R: Nordin, Baharum, Ramli, the granddaughter, Rehani.
Rehani, living nearby, came with her husband Ramli and granddaughter. Baharum, Ramli, Rehani and I talked of many things, including a plan to have a gathering of our classmates in December.
When I returned to Kuala Lumpur, Rehani messaged me to track another classmate, Zaiki, whom she had not seen also for 44 years, ever since he left Jerteh for a premier secondary school in Negeri Sembilan. I met Zaiki at an exhibition in Kuala Lumpur many years ago. But we lost contact after that.
I did a Google on my phone and found Zaiki’s office phone number and email address. I do not enjoy receiving cold calls, so I would try to give others the privilege as well by not giving them cold calls. In this case the email address made it possible. I wrote an email to him, introducing myself, informing that I was tracking old friends and passed the message from Rehani. At the end of the email I made an apology in case I got the wrong Zaiki.
I then messaged Rehani that I had sent the email, and informed her that looking at the Google search results it looked like Zaiki was a very busy person, so I did not expect an answer for several days.
At the office during a meeting with some business partners from Japan, I checked my silent mode phone, and saw I had a missed call from a familiar number. I checked my Google search results. It was Zaiki’s office number. Several minutes later another call came. It was the same number. Excusing myself and going out of the room, I took the call. It was indeed Zaiki. And he sounded like the Zaiki I knew, and very friendly like before, even though 44 years had passed and he had now become one of the big figures at a nearby university.
For the next several nights our WhatsApp group became very lively. Many other classmates were brought into the group by those already in. We talked about our childhood at Sekolah Pusat Jerteh, our primary school. And about our childhood in Jerteh.
About many things, which I would like very much to write about later –
Cikgu Suzanne/Keith (American Peace Corp teachers), jet Mirage, air batu tepi jalan bulan puasa, air batu abuk gergaji, tanah liat sungai, lastik burung, jebak burung, bedil buluh peleting, laga biji getah, helikopter biji getah, usung pindah rumah, mandi air telaga dengan timba, mandi sungai, cari etok sungai.
(I’ll translate the above topics, in Bahasa Malaysia, to English later 🙂 )
Since were were in a reminiscing mood, tonight I thought I would try my luck again searching the internet for photos of our childhood Jerteh. I had tried many times before with no success. But tonight I found several picture in Facebook, which I’m going to share here.
The original pictures in Facebook were small, between 480 to 960 pixels wide. I used a freeware digital image processing app GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) to increase the size of the pictures to 2,000 pixels wide, enhanced and sharpened them, and put a legend together with a credit to the Facebook page.
Here they are, pictures of Jerteh from a bygone era. Objects in the pictures are no longer in Jerteh, and reside in the memory of my classmates and I, and others of a similar era.
Our school, Sekolah Pusat Jerteh, flooded during the 1966 flood season. This was one year before we entered the school as Standard 1 pupils.
Jerteh Bridge. Infamous for cutting off road traffic from Kota Bharu to Kuala Terengganu for many days during flood seasons. The buildings to the right were the Registration Department office, where we went to make our first Identity Cards.
Jerteh Bus Station. This site is now an approach road to the new Jerteh Bridge.
Part of Jerteh Bus Station, with the Jerteh Market in the background. Rare items in this picture are the “teksi” (local name for trishaws, now extinct), a Vespa (very chic at that time) and black bicycle.