Seventeen year-old Nawawi’s childhood was filled with schoolboy adventures. Exploring the railway tracks, throwing stones at his siblings and venturing into the Black and White bungalows at Wessex estate were some of his favourite pastimes. At 11.09pm on 30 June 2011, the last KTM train driven by Sultan Ibrahim Ismail of Johor whizzed past Block 55, Commonwealth Drive. Here, Nawawi bid farewell to the boisterous trains from his “home sweet home.”
Nawawi’s family moved into their cozy 3-room apartment flat at Commonwealth Drive 13 years ago. For the first six months or so, Nawawi and his family were extremely irritated by the incessant and unpredictable bellows from the oncoming trains. The unrelenting honks would often jolt them from their afternoon slumber and cause them numerous sleepless nights. They called it “noise.”
Snakes, monitor lizards, mosquitoes and other undesirable creatures called the railway tracks and its surrounding forestry their home too. Nawawi and his mother, Yati, were acutely aware that these reptilian invertebrates might enter their apartment flat located at the ground level. Yati said, “When it rains, our house will be ‘invaded’ by a swarm of mosquitoes! Then, my children will scratch their hands until they bleed.”
Nawawi won his battle against the annoying creatures when the forestry was cut back and a park connector was built in front of his flat. Likewise, he and his family had grown accustomed to the ear-splitting warning honks from the KTM trains as the years went by.
For the past 13 years, the KTM tracks had been a part and parcel for Nawawi and his family. Every afternoon, Nawawi would stroll along the railway tracks with his friends or watch the antiquated trains surged past Tanglin Halt. He said, “I enjoy going to the tracks. It is a place where I can relax and look at the flora and fauna.”
The KTM trains have gone and the tracks will soon be removed. There is a possibility that Nawawi would find his “new” living environment quieter and more peaceful. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that these ‘noisy’ trains have made his childhood magical and unforgettable.