Sunday, January 27, 2013

Preserving A Piece Of History

The trishaw is being carried to the Michaelian Heritage Gallery. 
Remember the trishaw and the ice-cream man? It was in July 2007 that Mohd Ali stopped selling ice-cream in SMI and went home to India where his wife and two daughters were staying. Nobody knew why he came back to Ipoh despite his deteriorating  health and the fact that he had sold his trishaw. One could guess that it would not be easy for a person like Mohd Ali (mugshot) who had stayed in Ipoh and working in St Michael's for the past six decades to simply bid farewell. He returned, lived a few months and passed away in early 2011.

The man who knows the story of St Michael's ice-cream man is non other than our kacang putih man Solaiappan. He said Mohd Ali was already selling ice-cream in the late 40s, even before the arrival of the Japanese.
Solaiappan said when he was in primary school, helping his grandfather at the stall, the ice-cream man was already operating a stall selling "ais kerim potong" which he made himself.
That time, he said, food stalls were operating behind Masjid India mosque. The canteen was called tuck shop then.
All the years of selling ice-cream, Mohd Ali had not used any motorised vehicles to transport his weighty metal container to and from school to his Kinta Height flat - a distance of at least a km. Five days a week, Mohd Ali (imagine his age) would cycle, struggling on his pedal power when he encountered the slopes and patiently enduring the blaring horns from vehicles when he moved too slow. He had to cycle from the school to the French Bakery every two days to get fresh stock of bread.

All the years of hardship had somehow weakened him and that contributed to his frequent bouts of asthmatic attacks. "It was getting very serious early this year, rendering him very fragile and weak. Still he wanted to come to school to sell. The noodle man, Ah Fatt, helped him greatly by carrying his goods to school," Solaiappan said, adding that Mohd Ali would just sit at his stall and attending to his young and eager customers.
Five strong boys are needed to carry the trishaw up the granite stairs
His health deteriorated in June 2007. It was in 2009 that he decided to vacate his humble abode at the flat and to return to India.
Form Three boy Jason with the trishaw outside the gallery
SMI ice cream man left behind only two items at St Michael's. One is his faithful trishaw, the other is our sweet memory of this faithful old man, one who has spent virtually his entire life in St Michael's.
"He spoke highly of the school, the Brothers and the old boys. He remembers Brother Paul and Brother Vincent vividly and always spoke on the ways they managed the school and handled the boys. His greatest joy was being able to serve here in St Michael's," Solaiappan said.
Mohd Ali's work horse is currently safe and preserved - at the Michaelian Heritage Gallery.

Onward Michaelians! Valiant and True.

1 comment:

Ramli Yusuf said...

Any photos of the ice cream man, Peter?