Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Looking Back With Pa - Part 5

An Early Encounter With The British Army

The road from Tanjung Bungah to Tanjung Tokong passed through a narrow stretch with steep hills on one side and the sea on the other.  The road wound down-slope and after the few bends, straightened out towards Tanjung Tokong. 

Straits Settlement currency
On the left, by the seaside, there was once an army camp where British officers used to reside.  Those were the days when the British were still the Tuans of the Straits Settlements, about a decade before the Japanese landed on these shores and sent them packing off to Singapore.  And those were the days when everybody who needed to get around anywhere had to have a bicycle. 

One day, Pa was out on his usual trips, roaming around on his bicycle.  He was a little around 10 years of age then.  His feet could barely touch the pedals when he sat on the saddle.  But handling a bicycle was like second nature to him.  Then, junior bikes or fun bikes were totally rare items.  Most bicycles were made and installed with large carriers and their major purpose was for carrying goods.  If you could afford one, consider yourself quite lucky.

As Pa was free-wheeling downhill, an army truck overtook him.  Without any warning the truck started to slow down to turn into the army camp.  Pa immediately gripped on both front and rear brake levers.  To his utter horror he felt both brake cables snap.  He instantly realized only way he could save his life was to make a dash and turn into the army camp even before the truck finished its turn. 

He made it into the camp compound and rode the bicycle around the perimeter road a few times until the bicycle slowed down enough for him to jump off.  By then the army truck had stopped and the driver and a few officers came over and hugged Pa and rubbed all over his head in sheer relief. 

Pa couldn't understand a word they were saying but the expression on their faces told him how sorry they were and how lucky Pa was.

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