Now at best I can only dream of the days when time had been very good to me and of the house I grew up together with the people who had been extremely pleasant and with so much affection. I remember most vividly of the rambutan trees I used to climb and enjoying the fruits of my labour inside a shack built by my grandfather behind our house. I remember picking pandan leaves that grew wildly near the bushes beside the shack and pulling the tapioca stems by the central parts later to enjoy the starchy products of various cooking styles. I remember strolling along the small bushes track looking for branches most ideal to make my catapult. I will always remember playing by the big muddy drains not far away and looking for small fishes to fill my small aquarium of used bottles. And of the tall coconut trees with its swaying leaves dancing gracefully to the tune of the breezy wind. And the endless sound of chirping birds flying tirelessly above every branches there were. Nature had once been my best companion and not a moment was I bored.
All of us have memories of our younger days freshly stored in our minds, about few things significant to our lives. Of the places we used to spend our time, of people we mixed and played with and of activities we were involved in. As years passed, these memories will keep bringing on back those good times. I have my fair share of these memories; about those days when I grew up in a small town called Bandar Maharani. I certainly like to rewind the clock back to those time but that can only be done through imagination. But I am adamant to revisit those periods and replay the happy moments and the only option I have is to write them down and keep reading it over and over again for as long as my heart long for.
Why should I be writing about Bandar Maharani of the 50s and 60s at this time of my life? What actually compelled me to dig memories of the past that had been buried and almost lost through the passages of time? I have never written a book for I am not a scholar and neither a professional writer who has devoted his life to study the in-depth history of Bandar Maharani. But I was born in this town, grew and spent my adolescent period during a time when Bandar Maharani was beginning to experience a social and cultural change in conformity to the needs of its population as well as in parallel to the world’s changing outlook. The Japanese occupation had ended and the people had rejected the proposed formation of Malayan Union and a new chapter was to unveil. From these moment onwards covering almost two decades, the glory of this town had left many priceless memories with significant values. Those were the years when a substantial part of my life was an infinitesimally small part of the life of Bandar Maharani. This compelled me to write.
Bandar Maharani of the 50s and 60s was my town, not in a proprietorial sense but the town that unfolded me and which I will continue to carry in my mind for as long as my earthly life can sustain. From the day I began to understand the beauty of nature, from the people who taught me to walk and talk, and the moment I knew what pain was and of the places that made me comfortable and mindful, up to the time I had grasped every precious moment this town had offered me, are all well stored in my memory. Those were the days I will always cherish.
Bandar Maharani as many of us know is confined only within the urban section of the Muar district. The town was named Bandar Maharani by Sultan Abu Bakar in 1884 who was then the Maharaja of Johor. When he took over the throne in 1862, he was then known as Temenggong Wan Abu Bakar. He had great business sense and very detail in planning. It was under his leadership new land laws were established and customs posts were built. In 1868, after returning from Europe he assumed the title of Maharaja, reminiscent of the early title of Sri Maharaja borne by some of the South-East Asian kings.
It was at the confluence of the Muar river that the town was opened and named Bandar Maharani. Most of the government buildings are very English in design and all had managed to stand the test of time. Trees were planted along every road and grew gracefully providing comforting shades on sunny days. But somehow the name Bandar Maharani did not find its way to the hearts of the Muar people who seemed to prefer calling the town Bandar Muar and that remain until today. Bandar Maharani however is accepted as its official name and is used in all official correspondences.
Spanning over these period, many events happened and stories created; events of our own creations and stories of our own imagination. Some were serious and few others were hilarious. I was a part of these eventful momemnts and almostly instrumental in all its creations.
What happened to those unforgettable characters whose actions in series of events had been naturtally inscribed in some parts of the town’s history creating legends of their own? Where are those peculiar words once used for specific purposes or description? Have we forgotten the games we invented through our own imagination and how we kept improving them? These are the substance of my stories, put into narrative tales hopefully in an entertaining manner with some embellishment.
All names mentioned in all these stories are not fictitious for the stories themselves are genuine with the real person playing the roles. The sequence of events as far as the years are concerned will not be in chronological order and will be told as and when my memory catches up with me.
Most postings will be written at random, so please forgive me for any spelling error or wrong grammar. I must reiterate that I am not a writer, just an ordinary person wishing to share his golden days of the 50s and 60s in a little town called Bandar Maharani.