A bus ride, a stranger, a conversation

I was riding a half-full bus on my way back to KL yesterday and sat beside me was a 62-year old Indian Muslim man. He started a conversation with me that I find very interesting, and enlightening as well.

His family was originally from Kerala, India. But the time when British occupied what was then Malaya, his father and mother came here and worked in the British estate. He was born and raised in KL. He loves KL so much. Despite its flaws and all, he finds KL a pleasant place and decided to house his family in the city.

Then, we started talking about his family, especially on his children’s education. He mentioned that it was very hard for him to go to school when he was small, and is still the case for his children.

“Diorang nampak kita India Muslim, terus campaklah semua application. Mana nak dapat masuk universiti macam tu”

Translated: “When they see that we’re Indian Muslim, they’ll just forget about our (children’s) application into university. It’s very tough to get in when that happens.”

But with patience, his children persevered and now he is proud to have two sons, whom are studying accountancy and biotechnology in local and overseas institutions. It’s very hard for me to listen to this particular experience of his. The story about some people being treated as second class citizen is not new, but actually putting a face to it is very painful. The fact that he had come to terms with the situation and worked around it to ensure educational success of his children is a success on its own.

Then he told me fascinating stories about the Indian Muslim community in KL. In one of the Indian Muslims’ mosques in KL, there lies a sufi’s tomb. The locals call it “keramat”. The sufi’s name was Ram Lal. The story goes that Ram Lal was from India. He came to Malaya and became a watch guard for one of the British buildings. One Friday, the British officer in charge told him not to go to pray because there were a lot of people in the building compound and he must ensure order at all times. Afterwards, the British officer went home to have his lunch and on his way back to the building, he saw Ram Lal walking out of the mosque.

He was furious and demanded to see Ram Lal as soon as he arrives at the building. When he enters the building, there he was, Ram Lal in front of the gate, saluting him. The British officer was confused to see him there when he just saw him in front of a mosque miles away! He did not disobey the orders after all.

One of the f’lers working there explained to the officer:

“Sir, Ram Lal is not some dude. He is a very religious person and has learnt the art of transcending time and space!” (Sounds like Hiro in Heroes, haha)

So, the British guy learned of this and as a token of appreciation of Ram Lal’s fantastic work performance, he asked him what he wants. Ram Lal just wanted to be buried by the building’s side when he died. He got his wish.

From then on, people have been going to the “kubur keramat Ram Lal” or “the Ram Lal’s tomb” to pray for him as he was a good, God-fearing person.

Hmm. I’ll pursue this story further. Perhaps get some pictures for you guys later.

2 Comments so far

  1. Hafiz (unregistered) on May 15th, 2007 @ 10:53 pm

    That Indian mosque, is it Masjid India, or some generic name?

  2. Syuhada (unregistered) on May 16th, 2007 @ 12:12 pm

    Nope, according to him, the mosque is situated near Stadium Negara, somewhere around the Jln Hg Tuah – Jln Hg Jebat intersection. Not the Masjid India that we know of. I’ll look for it this weekend n let u know.

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