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Legacy of Penang
Back in 1962 when I was just a lad my dad gave me a holiday the best I ever had. A holiday of every dream that one lifetime could hold so listen while this wondrous time to you I now unfold: In bygone years to travel far was not a normal thing, to travel some six thousand miles by plane was amazing! Propellers aided by a jet, a very modern way, aboard a British Eagle plane my life would change that day. A little island in the sun where British troops were based on active service out Far East where they would get a taste of jungle warfare while they helped to form a brand new state by helping stop objections from a few this change did hate. But as a teenage boy, you see, the politics of war were not as noticeable to me as other things I saw. I felt the beauty of this land with folk of every kind for at this time in England few ‘cultures’ could be found. For back at home in Blighty a youngster such as me had to know his place in life and couldn’t roam quite free, but out here in the tropics no prejudice I found of the nature that had kept me thus by England’s limits bound. Now out here in Malaysia, on this island of Penang, I found a place where deep inside stirred memories that sang of a time in my existence that I’d never felt before born of ancient inner knowledge that my soul was screaming for. To continue with my story of the time I was a lad, when in a British Barracks with a soldier for a dad I had given up my schooling for adventure in the world and like a butterfly emerging my wings were now unfurled. On this truly wondrous island Minden Barracks was my home with excitement and adventure wherever I could roam. I immersed in all the wisdom of simplicity I met and learned that what you give to life, returns in what you get. For the Chinese and the Indians, Malays and some ex-pats had found ways to live together though all wore different hats, in perfect symbiosis where all fulfilled their roles and by leaning on each other could emancipate their goals. Now even at this early age, I was not too dim to see that the rich were getting richer and the poor were never free, but something buried deep inside these people of Penang bore a certain understanding of the common song they sang. Now I grew up very quickly as my friends all went to war, young soldiers who were now my age what were they fighting for. Atrocities befell them as they fought Malaysia’s side against those from Indonesia who would not join this ride. Skirmishes abundant though Penang was hardly hit, it was only very seldom that we faced a scary bit. When Minden B’ was threatened all the locals stayed inside just in case the British soldiers started shooting the wrong side! But throughout this ‘confrontation’ my job became pure joy, for the Army’s recreation then became my brand new toy. On the island’s sandy beaches you would find me day by day driving speed boats for the soldiers when they found the time to play. In Penang, their favourite island, the troops would take their leave and have fun while water skiing as they took a short reprieve from the nature of their duties that had brought them to this land and for just a fleeting moment could enjoy the sea and sand. For three years whilst Water Skiing I enjoyed this paradise but the days I was not working were all equally as nice for at home in Minden Barracks was a special swimming pool where friends would meet and wash their souls with conversation’s tool. This really was the centre of our commune in this land, the meeting place for sharing where all friends would understand. Soldier’s wives, their men at war, and others gathered round, if any place is hallowed then this pool is sacred ground. But Georgetown and its traders was the place I loved to be where the colour, noise and culture always let my soul soar free. Where the many, many trishaws and the bikes and traffic mix, with the hawkers, shops and markets this is where I got my fix! Four good years I lived my life in this very special place, absorbing understanding at a multicultural pace. I’d been born into a country that the world thought was mature, but maturity is lost of mind when progress is the lure. Back in 1962 when I was just a lad my dad gave me a holiday the best I’d ever had. Back in 1966 I went back home again and the schooling that I’d given up had not been lost in vain, for I’d learnt the real meaning of my Life in this short stay, a meaning full of everything I carry till this day. So now I’m in My sixties, not the sixties of my past and the thing I’ve found along the way is most things never last. But learn from where you travel, let morals be your guide for none can steal the things you hold and carry deep inside. Ivor G Davies
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