Pak Udin once emigrated to Malaysia when he was young. He arrived in Johor in the middle of the night and at about 3:00 a.m. he was taken into a forest which was actually an oil palm plantation. So there he was, with no choice but to work in the estate and was paid RM12 per day. The money was not really given on daily basis. Every day when he ate at the "canteen", it was recorded and added at the end of each month. An in the end, he did not get much. Even the shirt and hat worn to work that were not free, and all the expenses would be deducted from his income.
Staying there definitely not a pleasant experience, Pak Udin said it was really dark at night and there was no entertainment whatsoever. Staying in the workers' house whose wall was built from nipah leaves, they could at times see big elephants roaming the place. It was scary as the elephant might simply walked to their house, walked through it and killed all the people inside. He realized he was not getting much, so when a friend from Kedah suggested he and his other three friends to get away to Kuala Lumpur, they agreed. Despite the fact that he was having fear of being caught for not having any legal documents. they took a train one night in their attempt to start a new life.
Upon arriving in Kuala Lumpur, Pak Udin was in awe and realized that the world was actually a bright place to live in, literally because there were lights everywhere, after being the prisoner in the heart of darkness. He then started working as a construction worker with a better pay of RM18 per day which was real money to him. After that, he followed another friend for a better job, selling fruits at Chow Kit Road but he was at first quite reluctant to leave his three friends who had been with him through thick and thin.
There was this experience he could never forget when he was arrested at his place with no travelling document. At that time he was about to have lunch of noodles but looking at the food in the bowl made him not hungry anymore. After being handcuffed, he was interrogated by one of the police officers. We would expect the policeman would ask him for bribe. Nevertheless, he was let free after the policeman warned him not to get involved in any criminal activities. So, not all policemen asked for bribe, alright?
He related one funny incident when he had to send food to someone on the 5th floor of the Kuala Lumpur Hospital. He didn’t know how to use the lift so he just went into the lift and pressed the button to the top floor and had to take the stairs down and that took him a long time. The next time he wanted to use the lift to go up, he would then ask other people’s help to press the button, I did not know whether he was illiterate but Pak Udin was telling us that he realized that he was not a knowledgeable person.
In the end, he returned to Batam when his mother sent a telegram to a friend telling that she was very sick and hospitalized. Actually, she was worried because she heard news about a young man who had the same features being killed after his boat was being hit by a tanker on sea.
The story ended once we arrived at the ferry terminal. The ride took about 20 minutes but it made the journey seem very short just by listening to his story. I hope there will be a drama or film producer who will come to see me later after reading my blog to make a big telenovela or movie based on the life of Pak Udin, the taxi driver from Batam. (Dream on!)