Sunday, November 8, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
"When I looked at your blog and some of the events that others brought up in the StJoeForm5(1976) blog, I am amazed with the long term memory you and the others have. I have images of the past, but the details are extremely (and I mean extremely fuzzy).
But one detail that I know for sure ----- I DID NOT CRY ON MY FIRST DAY IN SCHOOL !!!! This record must be sealed in the history book.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
When I was six years old I was totally envious of Piruz and Betty. I watched them go to play school while I stayed home. PLAY school!! Can you believe their luck, they got to go to school to PLAY with other children while I stayed at home.
Each morning I would watch Betty and Piruz getting ready for school, showered, combed, dressed in very neat school uniforms and clean white shoes. I would wait for them to come home and after what seemed like forever, they would be back, completely dishevel, their uniforms soiled and shoes dirtied. They were sweaty and smelly too that mum would say '..bau boyak...' (smell like crocodile). At the time I wondered who would dare to get close enough to smell the crocodile.
They must have had so much fun and play at school to come back looking and smelling like that.
There were a few play schools - the one at the surau next door to ours, at the ‘balai raya’ next to Sekolah Gita, Cikgu Lily play school at Rubber Road that we knew as 'sekolah chicha (teacher) Lily'; the Nanyang Kindergarden, etc. There was a Cikgu Patong too. Anyway there were many choices of play schools and plenty of crying kids too I heard.
But I did not get to go to PLAY school. Instead I was pre-schooled at home by mum for primary 1. She was very protective over me (hehe..reminds me of Hassan Mak Lamah).
In January 1966 I finally went to primary 1 in Catholic English Primary School. The school uniform, the bata shoes and socks were ready one week before school started. I waited nervously for one week for school to start. Of course I tried the uniforms over and over again. I think they were light blue shirt and short with a red necktie. The bata shoes was white canvass with the green 'worm or noodle like' rubber sole. Dad also bought the round white chalk, wrapped in paper, for us to chalk our shoes while it was still wet after washing them.
Up very early at dawn and after a warm bath, mixing a kettle of boiling water with a bucket of cold tap water, I was ready in my school uniform which was so crisp from the starch that forced your body stiff and upright. It took me a while before I learn to fix the neck tie and the shoe laces myself. Dad gave up fixing my necktie that he bought the tie that I can just hooked to my collar.
Typically breakfast was bread with butter or planta and thick kopi susu instead of milo (to keep us awake mum said). The bread or 'roti paun' was the pineapple brand, baked at a particular shop in Green Road. Piruz and I can easily finish one whole loaf of bread between us if given the chance. My grandma used to say we can eat '...sampei becah perut...' and sometime she did not use the word 'eat' in our context but the phrase '...ngisik kedabang bubus...' I really do not know what language that was, 'terms of endearment' regarding our hearty appetite I am sure. hehehe...
Piruz, Betty and I would ride with dad on his bicycle from home to Satok wooden suspension bridge. It was a Raleigh of England and they were called 'basikal unta' or 'basikal gentleman'. Crossed the bridge and from there dad drove us to school in our white austin mini minor. The car had to be parked on the other side of the river as the bridge can only carry pedestrians, bicycles and motorcycles. We would all help wiped the dews off the car every morning with old towels, the yellow or blue cotton cloth sold at Shell stations.
For a 7 year old on his first day to school, crossing the Satok suspension bridge stepping on the wooden planks was very nervy. There were big gaps between the planks all the way across the river, and some of the planks were loose. You can see the Sarawak river flowing right beneath your feet as you crossed the bridge. And the bridge would sway from the movement of so many people crossing the bridge at the same time.
Catholic English Primary School is at Green Road, a simple single story, L-shaped building. Its walls were made of concrete (up to three feet high) and wood; and the dark grey roof of belian shingles. There were only six class rooms (primary one to six), a teachers room, the joint clerk and principle's office. There was a cement corridor in front of the offices and the class rooms; where we usually lined up to enter class. The small canteen was separated from the school block.
On arrival at the school that day I was greeted by a riot of crying children, a chaotic scene of parents carrying book lists and buying school books and stationaries, teachers sorting out sitting arrangements and the bigger kids running around and greeting each other after the long school holidays. There was just so much noise!
Suddenly, my hands refused to listen to the macho me and started to grip my dad's hands tightly, clinging to his legs and trying to hide behind him. Dad brought me into this scary room full of sobbing children and their parents. Suddenly a bell began to ring deafeningly for a couple of minutes and the parents stood up and started to leave the room. This seemed to signal a spontaneous increase in the sobbing and crying to a crescendo of screams and wailings. It was no orchestra I assure you! It was pure mayhem.
But I did not cry. Really, I was that close to crying but held back the tears that was swelling in ever so slowly. Nope, the tears were held back. I can imagine my late, fearsome tatooed Iban and Scottish grandparents in 'cawats' and 'skirts'..oops...I mean kilts, scowling in heaven at the sight of me crying. Hehehe...bet you do not believe me.
I remember sitting in class on a small wooden chair behind an equally small desk while dad went to buy my books, colour pencils, school badge and other stationaries. Despite being surrounded by crying kids and adults standing by the door and the windows, I realized I was sitting next to a cute little girl who was not crying. Catholic English Primary School is a mix boys and girls school. There was no chance of me crying after that.
I also noticed a boy, who was bigger then the rest of us, teasing some of kids, making them cry even louder. The boy later became a very close friend of mine in primary school. Khoon Haw was taller then most of us, has thick straight hair that stood up, chubby smiling face, and always showing us his kung fu skills. We played sword fights with our bare arms and he was the champion! He was also my stamp collecting kaki. He definitely did not cry on the first day.
The Chin cousins - Lawrence, Mark and Robert, who lived right across the street from the school. We used to envy them going back home during recess and able to rush home to fetch books and stuff that they forgot. They were not only very good in their studies but were also very good 'rounders' players. Lawrence was the undisputed No 1 in class every term exam and was always the most neatly dressed boy in class. But did they cry on that first day in school? Hmmmm....maybe, maybe not...hehe
I could not remember the names of any of the girls in primary school except for one or two. There was Annie Wong, who I recognized was very pretty (hehehe), she had very fair skin, sharp features, and her pony tail. And Josephine Ng, who is the twin sister of Simon Ng, a very serious and studious girl in class.
By around 11am, dad came back to the classroom with the text books, writing books, drawing book, color pencils, etc. I did not have my school bag that day and had to help dad carry some of the stuff home. My first day in Catholic English Primary School came to an end, and boy was I glad to leave the crying room. I wondered when would all the playing begin because school did not seem like child play to me.
I was excited and cannot wait to be home to show mum my books, color pencils, etc. We reached the bridge, dad parked the car and off we go across the bridge. I was nervous and kept looking down at the river flowing below. Despite walking ever so carefully, I dropped my brand new box of color pencils and saw them spilling and dropping into the river below. I was on my knees on the planks, grappling to save them, my very first set of color pencils. But most of them fell into the river. I was barely seven years old, on my first day at school, smaller then Adam is now, distraught, crying and tugging on dad to do something. To get the boat that was by the river bank and recover my color pencils. I was crying uncontrollably. I cried all the way home and was so sad that I could not eat lunch.
Dad bought me a new set of color pencils the next day. This time I had all my stuff packed in my school bag, a green canvass sling bag with metal buckles.
Technically I did not cry on my first day in school; I cried on the Satok bridge..:)