Back in 1980, Seremban was a sleepy hollow. There was zero development then, no Seremban 2………. or Seremban 3 or whatever. It was just that…….a sleepy hollow. I was based here, having been transferred to serve here after a one year stint in Ipoh where I worked for a cigarette company. I didn’t have any friends in Seremban then except my classmate Raymond who had moved here with his family. So when I got news that I was to be moved out of Ipoh, I called him and told him when exactly to expect me. This was the handphone-less era; so you have to make do with public phones or telegrams well in advance. He was waiting when I reached his house on the predetermined date and I went on to stay at his place until I managed to find accommodation elsewhere after a couple of months.
There were no decent drinking holes here in Seremban except for a couple of Chinese joints that I was not particularly keen on. I loved the ones with western décor. They were more appealing to me. And I also detested loud music as well as those outlets that use women to lure in their customers. All these were unimportant. I preferred the ones that played soft sentimental music in the background, with a conducive and pleasant ambience where I could spend a couple of hours downing my favourite brew. There were many of such joints in PJ and KL but not in Seremban..
So on most weekends, I’ll just take a drive in my company car to PJ for my pints. The Seremban-KL highway was convenient. It had just been completed and commissioned then and tolls had not been imposed as yet. It used to take me only 30 minutes to reach Jalan Gasing in PJ to my favourite getaway called Woodlands, managed by one Mr. Bala. I’d usually go alone, sometimes with Raymond. At other times, Shereen my new found good friend will be in tow. Otherwise I’m usually alone. I’d have some nice beers up until they close the pub and drive back after that, the return journey lasting even lesser than 30 minutes. This was routine and the regulars at Woodlands know that. Bala, who sometimes joined me for a drink, had often advised me not to drive back after the binge……but I wouldn’t listen. I always drove back.
During one of those days when I was returning well past midnight, as I entered the Seremban exit from the highway and was headed towards the town, I noticed a white figure, waiting at the junction, waving at me to stop! The exit was not like how it is today. There was no toll to start with; so once you reach the point along the KL-Seremban highway where it shows ‘Seremban exit’, you just drive out of the highway and head towards the town that was located about 3 or 4 km away, lined all the way with rubber trees.
For a moment, I was stunned cold! I revved up and disappeared from the scene as fast as I could, not even looking into my rear view mirror. The next day, I discussed this with some colleagues but no one seemed to have had any similar experience so I left it at that and went about my life. After this incident, on another night when I was returning from my drinking spree in PJ, I saw this figure along the exit again. This time I noticed clearly that it actually seemed to be smiling at me, waving at me to stop! Cold sweat gushed down as once again I sped away! Thereafter, for a while, I took the old road back to Seremban to avoid the bizarre encounter.
A couple of months later, one day I had had one too many and summoning up as much courage as my youthful spirit allowed (pardon the pun), I decided that I’d return via the Seremban highway again. I was still fully conscious of what to expect as I got off at the highway. I looked at the clock on my dashboard and noticed that it was well past midnight! As I made that dreaded final turn, sure enough there was this same figure in white waving at me. This time, in my state of inebriation, I threw caution to the wind and decided that I will stop to check and “shame the devil” in the process (pardon the pun again). I was sick of this constant harassment! I screeched to a halt and looked in the rear view mirror. The angle at which the car came to a stop didn’t allow me a good view of its legs to see if it was floating towards me or was in fact walking, since they say spirits don’t have legs, but I noticed that it was fast approaching me. At that second, I was terrified and froze! Realizing the foolhardiness of my decision, I slammed down the accelerator but……….Holy cow! The bloody car wouldn’t move! It was then that I noticed the engine had died. The timing had been giving me problems for sometime now but “what a time to die off on me” I cursed. Just as I attempted to turn the key to the ignition again, the figure had reached the side of the passenger door and was tapping on the window gesturing for me to wind down. I pretended not to notice and ignored it when all of a sudden, it opened the door! I shut my eyes tight as my heart missed a few beats, holding my breath……overcome by fear! “Can you give me a lift to town please” it asked.
I peeked through my fingers while slowly opening my eyes and noticed it appeared to have dark features. I tried discretely to look down at its feet to ascertain if there were legs, when the voice continued “I just got a lift from an Express Bus headed to JB and got off at the junction. I work as a Band-boy in KL, you see….and there is no other transport back after work at this hour. That’s why I take the bus and get off at the highway". I gave him a blank look, bewildered and half dazed, totally terrified when he continued, “Hi! I’m Edmond by the way......May I.....?”.
“Ohhhh!.....” I exclaimed! “Ya! Ya! Come in!…Come in! My name is Ravi! Nice to meet you. Come in…..No problem…..What are friends for anyway!” I blabbered, trying to conceal my embarrassment in misunderstanding the whole situation.
During the drive back into town as we exchanged pleasantries, I couldn’t help but muse to myself at the thoughts of this 'Bandboy in the dark.………. attired fully in white', as I quietly took out my handkerchief to wipe the cold sweat off my neck!