Wednesday, June 23, 2010

1895 - 2010

Pudu jail

When I was younger, if my dad couldn’t drop us at one of our classes in KL, we had to take the bus into town as we live on the outskirts of KL. In those days we had to use the Tong Fong bus which was an aircondless bus that was usually rusty in look and rickety in feel. Despite its look, weirdly I have fond memories of riding those buses as it was an adventure of sorts that took us from our town through 3 other towns before we finally reached KL so the journey itself will take us about 2 hours.

We would sit at the back of the bus and see how far off the seat we will be thrown of when the driver goes through a pothole or one of those speed breaks. They never slowed down and it used to be so fun to jump in your seat so we would make sure we sat on the seats just above the tyres of the bus to get lifted off higher than the other seats. Every time we got tossed we would fall ball laughing our heads off much to the amusement of the other passengers who are usually irritated by the tossing.


Back then the bus will enter KL through Pudu and pass by Pudu Jail. Maybe I was a weird kid but I looked forward to seeing the Pudu Jail walls. For one, it meant the end of our journey but it was more than that. There was something weirdly serene about the place even when there used to be guards stationed at the main gates and towers holding their rifles to guard the prisoners.

Perhaps it was the mural painted by the inmates – it was a simple yet a beautiful work of art. To me it had always felt like the arms of the city were welcoming us with its lush green scenery painted arms that seemed like a tattoo distinct to the city.

Last night the walls were demolished bit by bit as excavators tore through the wall. Gone is the familiar green now faded with time, gone are those walls that once used to openly welcome people into its city warmly but with a warning – here’s where you’ll end up if you pursue criminal activities.

I never get why we’re so intent on demolishing our history to create buildings that are devoid of character or significance. Do we really need another shopping mall? We could have turned it into an art centre!
The new generation may not understand the significance of history but that’s not what I would expect from the administration. At least preserve parts of the wall and its structure, even if it has to be moved. Let us not lose our history to the rumble of “development.”

I said my goodbyes on Sunday as I made a quick stop to visit the wall and watched people go by. It still feels serene today just as I had felt when I was a child riding on a bus to KL.

I sincerely hope the ghosts of Pudu continue to haunt the place that no one is left peaceful but by then it would be too late to bring back what has turned into dust.

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sabrina said...

I am still shocked that they demolished it!

And you're right...what's the point in building these 'soul-less' looking buildings which totally lack character??!!! Brand spanking new or not, i'd take the old crumbling walls anyday

Anu said...

It was one of my favourite sights in the city. Always felt it gave KL a bit more character... :(

Visithra said...

saby : tell me about it - sigh we will never learn

anu : mine too - yeah it did