Forgotten Stories

dr putra vatakal, orthopaedic surgeon, kuala lumpur

As the Indian ship pulled into port, dock workers scrambled to steady the gangway against the side.

A lean bespectacled man descended- tan overcoat flapping in the strong wind of the East African shoreline. My grandfather.

As he unpacked crates of bicycle-parts in his Uganda shop, I wonder if he would ever have thought about another man in this story. A man on the other side of the world, knotting the ropes holding a sail on a ship along the Chinese coast.

The two men never met. My grandfather, tired from a day of golf, passed away in his sleep in Wales in 1991. He was 80.

The Chinese sailor lived into his 90s, and I watched him play chess with a friend just months before he died in 2019. His daughter raised the girl who has grown into my loving wife.

An unusual story, perhaps, but far stranger tales have unfolded in Eden’s garden.

The memories of past heroes become stories that our children’s children tell their own. 63 years ago, a new chapter in the story of our country began. Why don’t we make what gets written on today’s page something worth reading again..

.. and again.

Originally written on 31 August 2020 at home.

Note: 31 August is Independence Day in Malaysia.