A Seat In The Train

Bt Gajah old train station

About two days ago I thought of someone from high school. It came out of the blue. I kept trying to remember his name but I couldn’t, so tonight I went into Facebook and tried to see if he is in my friends’ list. He was. I found out that he passed away earlier in the day due to bone cancer.

I didn’t know him well and I have never spoken to him, at least not that I could recall. He was just someone that I knew from school. I remember that we used to share train rides whenever school was closed for the holidays though I didn’t remember where he was from (Ipoh, Perak). Those days taking the train was a pain. There were no assigned seats and they sold as many tickets as they could, so more often than not I would always have to stand up or sit on the dirty floor during the 8-hour ride to Butterworth.

It was during one of these rides that he offered me his seat. I can’t remember exactly when this happened but I think it was when I was in Form 3, fresh from stealing Feynman’s “Surely You’re Joking” from my brother’s stash in my quest to look like a sophisticated genius. That was the one and only incident where we interacted, and though I could not remember it as clearly as I wanted to, his act of kindness remains in my memory.

I have never been on the train since I left school except for once when I attended a friend’s wedding in Ipoh in 2001. The trains have changed significantly from those days – the carriages are now clean and comfortable, they are well-lighted and seats are assigned. In fact the Batu Gajah train station was closed a few years ago and changed its location to a new, spiffier version a few miles away.

I am sorry that I didn’t get to know him as well as I should and I am sorry I didn’t take the opportunity to thank him for the seat all these while when we were reconnected through Facebook.

I didn’t know him.  All that I remember is that he was kind. I am sure he is missed dearly by his loved ones.

This is latecoming, but thank you SM, for the seat.

Rest well under the grace of God.


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