MELAKA: For the past 18 years, A. Sothi Vandamalai has never failed to turn up in the city centre on his trusted bicycle every Merdeka and Malaysia Day. With songkok on his head, the high-spirited 70-year-old man cruising around Melaka on his two-wheeler decorated with Jalur Gemilang and the state flag is definitely a sight to behold. Sothi, who is lives in Pantai Peringgit public housing, even sewed his own Jalur Gemilang shirt that he would wear during the rides. And he doesn’t have any intention to stop, telling us that he would continue do it for years to come - for as long as his legs and health allow him to - out of his love for the country. “I would normally ride around Peringgit, Bukit Baru, Pengkalan Rama, Melaka Baru, Pangkalan Batu, Bachang, Melaka Sentral; and sometimes Bandar Hilir and Jalan Hang Tuah. “A lot of bystanders would show their support and some would take pictures with the old bicycle that I bought for RM20 in the 1970s,” he said. Despite being blind in the left eye since he was 10 after it was accidentally punctured by wire, Sothi refused to let his disability got in the way of his interest while showing patriotism. He said there was once he was mocked for his obsession with Jalur Gemilang decoration on his bicycle, but things have changed and he had since received praises for his good efforts. Apart from flags, Sothi also decorated his antique bicycle with pictures of Merdeka celebration. He said he spent about RM45 to buy Jalur Gemilang and another RM25 to prepare the shirt and string wrapped around the songkok. Sothi initially intended to cycle with his wife K. Pawai, 66, but the latter was hit by a motorcycle in Melaka Baru while cycling to work recently. “She is now recovering at the hospital. Looks like I will be cycling alone,” he said.
A. Sothi Vandamalai has never failed to turn up in the city centre on his trusted bicycle every Merdeka and Malaysia Day. (pic by NAZRI ABU BAKAR)
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