As we entered Parit Buntar town I noticed the extent of development that has taken place since the 1950s. Many new buildings were noticeable, some replacing the old ones. But my mind was focused in identifying one particular building, at number 22, Low Road, Parit Buntar. It was once a large double storey brick and wooden mansion at the edge of the town padang. But, It was not there anymore. It had been demolished and rebuilt. Even the name of the road as ‘Low Road’ had been changed after independence in 1957. But the memory lives on!
The building which I was looking for was where I was born in 1947. It was then the official residence of my grandfather, Syed Abdul Hamid bin Syed Safi Jamalullail who was then the Orang Besar Jajahan Krian or the Territorial Chief of the Krian district. In those days before Malaya achieved independence in 1957 the Orang Besar Jajahan had a major role in the management of the district and thus he had an office and an official residence. I was only just over 2 years old when he died, and thus I have little personal recollection of him. But from accounts by my elders I concluded that he was aristocratic in outlook and generous to all. He grouped in his large house many members of his large family comprising his children and grandchildren. It was one very large family!
My grandfather had three sons and many daughters. I was born in my grandfather’s house and he gave me the name of Syed Jaafar, after his grandfather Syed Jaafar bin Syed Yunus Jamalullail of Teja, Perak. In those days it was not uncommon for people to name children and grandchildren after their ancestors. In fact my two brothers were named after our ancestors. Today this practice is less popular and modern families prefer new and modern names.
I am a member of the Jamalullail clan of Perak. To be more specific I am a fourteenth direct descendant (fithteenth generation) on the male line of Syed Husain al-Faradz Jamalullail who came to Perak in the early 1500s. Historical records including palace records in Perak showed that he served as a Menteri in the court of Sultan Muzaffar Shah, the first Sultan of Perak who reigned during 1528 – 1549.
It did not take long to drive around Parit Buntar, and soon we found ourselves on the old road to Bagan Serai. In the 1950s this stretch of road was a padi growing area. Today, while some buildings have come up along the roadside I still see ‘bendang‘ or padifields in the distant background. I wonder whether they are still operating today? I wonder where some of the people who went to school with me in Bagan Serai are today?
We reached Bagan Serai quickly. This was the town where I spent my early childhood.