Last Saturday, dating 19th March 2011, I was making my way to Serdang by train. Well, it was going to be a very long journey that would take up to 1 hour and 30minutes.So,I decided to plug in to my IPod and listen to some songs. Then suddenly, I heard a lady whining all along in Chinese. Well, I surely thought something was really wrong and probably she needed help as she was sitting just beside me. So, yeah, being a good Samaritan, I asked her where she wants to go and she just told a phrase ‘I dono English ma…’ OK, so tried asking her in Malay instead, thinking that maybe she would understand as she was dressed just like any ordinary young Malaysian lady would, with a laptop bag and a Bonia handbag over her shoulder.
Determine to help her, I asked her in English where is she heading to, crossing my fingers hoping that she would understand a little bit and I think she assumed what I asked her, she took out a paper which has it written ‘SEREMBAN’. I smiled at her and told her that she is right train, ‘Duih Duih’, Hahax, which means Correct in Chinese. I usually hear this word being used when in the supermarket and among my neighbours. That was my first attempt. Being relieved about the news that I just told her, both of us, in our minds had thoughts of talking and getting to know each other but both hesitated thinking about how language is being a barrier to our conversation. Definitely, there were a lot of sign language took part in this confusing exchanging of message.
Eventually the exchange started about how she took the wrong train towards Rawang instead of Seremban and have wasted 2 hours in the wrong train. She even asked me whether there were any lavatory available in the train and I said ‘No’. Pity her, that’s what I thought. Owh my, to my surprise, I understood what she was saying, from the little words that I was familiar with. To make sure that I do not get into deeper conversation with her as being excited, we both we quiet for a while and I plugged back my IPod. She was still looking so confused and lost; probably afraid I might have given her the wrong information. That's because she might have taken the wrong train earlier because of miscommunication with someone else.
So,I drew a map of the train route till Seremban so that she could count the stations that she would be stopping after I alight at Serdang. She was delighted, smiles in her eyes and relieve in her heart. Now she is content that she was on the right track. Then came the questions about how long it would take,n I told her I knew only yìdiǎn yìdiǎn. Not being able to tell how long it would take, I showed her the needles on my watch. Tired of travelling, she was complaining about taking the wrong train n the time wasted, plus that she wants to use the toilet so badly.
Finally, we introduced ourselves and her name was Cyndi,hails from China and have been in Malaysia for almost a year.It is her first time travelling to Seremban to meet her sister who lives there. Furthermore, she told me that she has just started to attend English classes.
This experience has given me an insight about how important language plays a role in one’s life especially when you are on an unknown land. Being appreciative that I am familiar with 3 different languages, English , Malay and Tamil. This is
something I will remember and surely about my new friend, Cyndi, who came for a season, the short season from Sungai Buloh till Serdang.