PART 1: THE ARRIVAL
This is coming up to be the start of my 5th year in Kelantan- particularly in Kubang Kerian. It’s not my first time here actually- I have lived in Pengkalan Chepa camp when I was 2 or so. My dad was in the army, duh…obviously! But I guess that stay doesn’t count cos I don’t remember anything.
Anyway, I got my offer to do dentistry in USM back in 2003. I was kindda disappointed at first cos my passion lies in medicine but you know what they say, beggars can’t be choosers. Sape suruh main2 masa matrics… anyway, it didn’t really hit me then that this also meant that I was gonna spend the next 5 years of my life in Kelantan. It was my mother who reminded me that USM’s Health Campus is in Kubang Kerian, Kelantan. Being from a very strong UMNO background, u should expect that I of course panicked… I was like – “oh no, im going to PAS-land!!!! HELP!!!!”
You cannot imagine how many people I knew laughed at the fact that I was going to further my studies in Kelantan. People were like “haha, habis la ko kena dok ngan orang PAS” or “macam mana la diorang bleh letak orang UMNO mcm u kat sana?” or “you know what they say bout Kelantan- everyone who goes there will marry a Kelantanese” and also “how the heck is an outspoken girl like you gonna live in a socially depressed state like Kelantan?” well, I wasn’t petrified, but I was sure that the next 5 years was going to be a depressing and low profile one… so not me!!!!
Anyway, I choose to not think about it and ignored the comments. I thought that was for the best. I wanted to ask my parents how it is in Kelantan but every time I try, my mother will emphasize that Kelantan is filthy and that the water is yellow. So I decided that I should just go see for myself. So that day eventually came when I boarded the plane to Kelantan. In the plane, I couldn’t stop imagining how it was going to be like. And I hope what im gonna say wont offend anybody, but this is the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Throughout my 55mins journey, I honestly thought that Kelantan would be full of trees- u know, like in a jungle. And I honestly believed that there were still people living up trees in Kelantan. I also assumed that the airport would be a badly broken down one. And I also had this pre assumption that everyone I meet would be draped up and well, erm, smelly. Sorry!
So the moment of truth arrived. The stewardess finally announced our arrival. My dad and I stepped out of the plane. I had the shock of my life. The airport was BEAUTIFUL. It boldly welcomed us to Kelantan. I was truly impressed. Then we stepped outside where my father’s old friend was waiting to fetch us to his place to spend the night before registering at USM the following day.
During the journey to Pak Sarif’s house, I was thanking God that Kelantan had houses like in KL- not up in the trees and not old fashionly made of wood- not all of them though, and im referring to made of woods part. And Kota Bharu was just like any other town. It was definitely not pumping like KL but it wasn’t a jungle or a dumpster la. Its not that you see rubbish everywhere. This place was ok la I would say. And when I reached Pak Sharif’s house, it was a nice single storey terrace house. Small and modest but atleast not in the jungle. Forgive my continuing use of the word ‘jungle’ because I am abit scared of the wild so the fact that Kelantan isn’t all jungle, leaches, snakes and wild animals, was a total relieve for me. I don’t care if you don’t have cinema’s or shopping centers but just NO LEACHES!!!
Anyway, we then had dinner with Pak Sarif, Mak Zaharah and Abg Hisham. Dinner was great- it wasn’t sweet like EVERYBODY told me Kelantan food would be. And the family was really nice and warm and non judgmental. Well, one can argue that it’s because this family is not local. They are from Malacca and chose to retire in Kelantan. But to me, if this was how they lived, then the rest of the community should not be so different- I hoped so la, hehe.
Anyway, I slept soundly that night. Looking forward to seeing more of this foreign state the next day…. To be continued…
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