THE peaceful Sungai Nibong and Bayan Lepas in Penang of the bygone years remain only in my mind.
We have to move with the times. But I often replay the memories in my mind and wish the younger generation could see what I saw.
Once, the sea met land where Krystal Point near the Bayan Lepas roundabout is now.
We used to walk on the bund to the foreshore and dig for clams or catch horseshoe crabs for their delicious roe.
Being a sharpshooter with the catapult, I could catch mudskippers too. They were a delicacy.
You could walk on the bund all the way to where Queensbay Mall is now.
There was a water gate at the far end of the bund to stop seawater entering the river at high tide.
At times, I became a voluntary caretaker of the gate and would go and close it as the tide rose.
The river along the bund was full of water lilies. The clear water teemed with snakehead fish (haruan).
As a keen angler, I excelled at catching them. They are wary fish.
They would not take the worm on the hook even when dangled right in front of them.It was a game of patience and skill. The fish would finally take the bait after a 30-minute standoff.
The price of snakehead fish is over RM20 per kilo now. In the past, it was valueless.
We sought them only because their flesh is traditionally famed for giving rapid recovery after surgery or childbirth.
There were three war relics here: fortresses of iron with murder-holes for soldiers to stick out their gun barrels and shoot in safety.
One was near Queensbay Mall. Another, near Krystal Point. And the last was by the river not far from the Petronas petrol station.
These relics were later moved to the War Museum in Batu Maung.
Bullock carts once trundled along Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah and it was many times narrower.
I lived in Bukit Kecil for 40 years. My ‘castle’ atop a hillock was demolished more than three years ago for condominiums.
I used to hitch rides on the bullock carts to the padi fields in Bayan Lepas to catch fighting fish.
Sometimes, I saw foreign tourists walking around blissfully in our paradise.
It is all gone now. Most Penangites will never know the joy of kampung life.
They will not know how to collect eggs from the chicken coop early in the morning.
The eggs would still be warm and so very much tastier than eggs of today.
Kangkung and all sorts of ulam (fresh vegetables) grew in abundance everywhere and they were free.
Padi fields along Bayan Baru and Bayan Lepas vanished to make way for the first Silicon Valley in the country in the early 1970s.
The once quiet, simple and happy lifestyle in our village is now a thing of the past.
I will not argue with the tide of development, but there are moments when I wish it would slow down a little.
> A.R. Amiruddin is a former journalist with The Star for 19 years and the defunct National Echo for 10 years. He is listed in the Malaysia Book Of Records as the oldest person to celebrate his birthday atop Mt Kinabalu in 2000. He broke his own record in 2001 by climbing up via the Mesilau summit trail. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.