Out of the blues and totally unexpected he called. His voice was still the same. His thick Besut accent was still there.
"Have you got a Besan already?"
"No, not yet...my eldest, she just graduated a few days back..."
That was Ripin bin Salleh, my long lost friend from the SDAR days.
He was my best pal then. Still vivid in my mind how he helped me a lot when I had to struggle going to the train station on our way home after I discharged myself from a long hospitaliztion.
I broke my left leg while trying to get over a 5-foot high jump bar. For that I had to miss almost three terms of my form four and spend most of my time in Tanjong Malim Hospital.
Reaching Kg Lampu, his hometown, I was treated like a prince by his family. I was bathed in floral water (mandi bunga) almost everyday by his mother. It was really invigorating, especially after having to lie down on the hospital bed for such a long time.
Ripin, once a temporary teacher and now a land-broker, was a genius in Geography. He knew almost every city in the world then, even Ulan Batur the capital of Mongolia!
His rather extensive forehead was just like that of the 'Hack' sweets. For that resemblance he was called Ripin Yek (Hack in a babyish tone).
There was this one episode that I could never forget. It occurred on our arts trip to Templer's Park. The two of us decided to scale the waterfall direct, that was from the front.
I was in front of him most of the way. Suddenly I heard him calling Allah, Allah. I froze and looked back. There he was sliding down on the slippy surface.
Looking down I saw jagged rocks and old logs waiting to receive him. Suddenly, as if answering his call, he grabbed a tiny tree growing out of a crevice in the moss-covered rock.
The tree stopped his fall. He slowly stood up and said his prayers. He was almost bloodless. We then went down and kept quiet about the incident.
I wrote a story about it and got an A for my LCE English paper!
Welcome back Ripin...hope our friendship remains forever.
Well, he just called me this morning.