The taxi stopped in front of me and I quickly asked the taxi driver, “Can you bring me to Port Dickson?”
The taxi driver looked at me weirdly. Then he said, “Are you underage?”
“Yes, I am 16,” I replied. Then he nodded. I shouted to my friend, Fayadh and asked him to join me with this unknown taxi driver to Port Dickson. “Bla…Bla…Bla…” That would be the ringing words that I heard when the taxi driver who introduced himself as Sudin talked to Fayadh.
I closed my eyes and suddenly I heard, “Why do you leave your house, Ariff?”
I sighed and said, “I hate my house and everyone in my family. They never understand what I want to do in life. They never ask whether I am okay or not. They never support me. Uncle Sudin and Fayadh remained silent.
The signboard of WELCOME TO PORT DICKSON just made my heart ponder. I thanked and asked how much I needed to pay to Uncle Sudin but he refused.
“I am worried about you and I really want to accompany you, he said. I was okay and to be honest I liked how caring Uncle Sudin was.
“Look! The coconut palms are waving and dancing as if to welcome us,” Fayadh seemed elated.
“Yeah, whatever bro,” I replied. We could see a couple was walking hand in hand. The sea breeze caressed my skin and I just loved the weather. Fayadh and I made ourselves meals. We gave some to Uncle Sudin. The meals were quite scrumptious. Strange how ordinary rice always tasted better during camping. Maybe it was half-cooked.
“Wow, there is a jungle next to this beach. Let’s jungle trek after eating,” Uncle Sudin gave a suggestion. Both of us agreed.
We did not bring anything because it would not drag so much time. I brought my Polaroid camera. The jungle was amazingly beautiful. We captured numerous photos and suddenly an uneasy feeling came.
“Wait, where are we? We are lost!” I said in barely audible whisper.
“Why don’t we follow the trail?” Fayadh suggested in the same undertone.
“There is no trail to follow. Ariff is right, we are lost in the jungle,” Uncle Sudin snapped in a flicker of irritation. We sat down dejectedly. As we tried to grapple with the full implications of our predicament, we heard peals of thunder. As we watched sheets of water cascaded from the sky. We ran for cover. By the time the rain abated, darkness was slowly enveloping the jungle.
“Let’s find our way out of here tomorrow,” Uncle Sudin’s voice broke the silence. Overcome by a hopeless sense of despair and doom, we floundered. We crawled under some stunted trees to spend the night. We had no choice. Although we were exhausted, we could not rest our tired bodies and minds with an opiate of sleep. The jungle at night was a cacophony of sounds, the shrill chirping of crickets and the disgruntled hooting of the owls kept us awake. The hours dragged by. At daybreak, we were still in a quandary deciding what we should do next when we heard a rustling. The sound of the snapping twigs. I thought that there was a butterfly in my stomach. I did not wish to come face to face with a wild boar or a beast. Or worse a ghost! Fayadh urged, his face stiffened with distress. Uncle Sudin and I scurried behind him.
“Oh, God! Please help us. I promise that I will never leave my house and hurt my family again. I will do lots of good deeds after this,” I murmured with sinking feeling. Fortunately, it was just a deer. We laughed because of how panic we were in when we held our breaths and exchanged frantic glances.
The ground was soggy after the downpour of the previous day and we could not ignore the gnawing pains of hunger and thirst. Suddenly, above the silence of the jungle, we heard the gurgling sound of water. From a leafy screen we could see the glistening of a winding silver stream.
“Hey, let’s wash our oily face there,” Uncle Sudin pleaded. After quenching our raging thirst we continued walking until we saw a footpath.
“I miss my family. I wish I can see them again,” I said.
“Ariff, you have to be grateful because we are still safe and maybe there is a light in the dark. Just believe that anything happens for a reason,” Uncle Sudin smiled. The thoughts of being reunited with our families were the uppermost in my mind. The vivid images of mom and dad kept coming to my mind. We found a T-junction. Our spirits rose. Our pace quickened.
Then, we saw the spluttering sound of engine of a vehicle. It came into our sight, we saw an old pick-up truck driven by an old farmer.
“Want a ride?” he offered.
“Yes, please!” replied the three of us simultaneously. Although it was a bumpy ride but of course every one of us did not mind. We reached at the town and I called my parents by using the public phone. I could hear my parents cry and happy to hear my voice again. Then, Fayadh and I hugged Uncle Sudin. It was a great experience to be with him. I would never forget all the experience in the jungle with the taxi dirver, Uncle Sudin and my best friend, Fayadh.
Edited by Madam Ainaa