Saturday, 15 May 2010

Remembering School

Would you like to know how many schools I attended thoughout the 13 years of schooling? I'll tell you anyway - they were two primary schools, two secondary schools, and one for Form 6 (pre-university). That makes five altogether when others might go to two or at most three. And that is why I have no significant feelings of attachment for any of those schools although I thoroughly enjoyed my time in all of them.

I loved to go to school. Somehow those days the brain was like a sponge, absorbing everything the teachers dished out, though that didn't  mean that recall wasn't a problem during exams. I didn't like exams especially public ones where you had to sit at a desk in a huge hall with a huge clock up on stage and bored invigilators sitting in front, day-dreaming. But I was OK at sports and  I had lots of fun representing the schools in athletics and netball except for in Form 6 in a boys' school, where football and rugby reigned.

At the first primary school, the Jr. Methodist Girls School, the pupils were mainly children from middle-class families who get ferried to and from school in cars. Some who lived nearby either walked it or hired trishaws for transport and I used to envy my friends who got to ride those trishaws everyday. For my sister and I, either my father or my mother would do the ferrying as we lived about 3  km or so away by road but only about half the distance walking. Which was via a shortcut the last maybe 80 metres of which was a path on a hillslope, of course accessible only on foot.

There was a day when dad couldn't pick us up after school and mum was in confinement yet again, so we were instructed to walk home together. Me and one of my bestfriends Ai Gaik, being teacher's helpers at the time had to help carry our class teacher Mrs. Lam's books to her car after school and so I wasn't present at the rendezvous point to meet my sister at the agreed time. Sis then set off for home by herself.

When I told Ai Gaik that I had to walk home alone, she offered me a ride in her hired trishaw. I was elated for I had never ever ridden in a trishaw before. It was such a joy to feel the wind in your face and so much fun to be jolted by every bump in the road as the old apek pedalled towards my friends house which was along my walking route. Having enjoyed the ride and being halfway there already, I practically skippety-skipped the rest of the way home, not knowing that back at home there was a commotion brewing when sis arrived without me in tow. Mum alerted dad at the office and when I reached home it was to to a very relieved mum asking me all sorts of questions.  An anxious dad arrived some time later when I was wolfing down my lunch and wondering what the fuss was all about. After a futile search dad was about ready to call the police I guess.

Now being a mum to five myself I can imagine what must have gone through mum and dad's minds at the time. Who knows... I could have been hit by a car or bus or lorry, or kidnapped for ransom (not likely for a child of a govenment servant), or got lost on the way home, or got chased and bitten by a dog, or followed a paedo home.... I was only in Std. Three.

However that was to be the first and only time we had to walk home after school but in my childhood I fondly remembered it as the first time I had ridden in a  trishaw.

The school percussion band 
me standing in the centre 4th row, 
Ai Gaik on the extreme right


Cat-in-Sydney said...

Aunty Zendra,
Didn't you know there were big bad wolves waiting for you in the belukar near the padang? Or that there was a tiger waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting zebra? was fun, my Mama said, though she didn't have the privilege to go to as many as yours. But the friendships forged over 30 years are priceless. purrr....meow!

lili said...

...old schools, old houses...they get to us these days! School-life is the best part of one's life, isn't it so? ;-)

Pi Bani said...

I went to only 2 schools throughout my 13 years of schooling - 1 primary and 1 secondary (all the way up to form 6) - both all girls schools and throughout those 13 years I was in RED house all the way...

Zendra-Maria said...

Alas Cat, we knew no fear since my mommy never told her kiddies about tigers and wolves, only about hantu teteks and hantu rayas when we played hide and seek well into maghrib...

And double alas, I still remember my bestfriends' names but have completely lost touch with them even those in uni. Me always have something or other to keep me distracted..


Zendra-Maria said...

lili, indeed school's the best time of life desspite the exams heheh

Zendra-Maria said...

Pi, you must be one lucky nyonya - RED House all the way!

I know lah you went to THE secondary school - the one that some people assume i attended - cheh! I went to kampung school lah and I had a most enjoyable time there :)


Tommy Yewfigure said...

Hey Zen, how come u did not go to kindie? My first experience of being independent was the day mum dropped me at kindie & told be to fence for myself. Most of the other kiddo had their parents with them for the first 2,3 & 4 weeks. Those without this privilege were bawling their eyes out, poor kids. That was when I started taking control & showed leadership qualities like THE Taikoh tao…..hahaha.

That girl sitting in front of u in that typical taukeh Soh style, I recalled u told me, she’s now in NZ, bet she must be a real Bus Auntie now…hahaha. And Ai Gaik must be your typical ‘Teochew Muay ( Teochew dialect 4 little sister)’ with a name like that “Lovely Jade”. Bet she’s still think about u, that lovely Malay girl with the mopped hairstyle like the early Beatles…muahaha, soooo sorry. Did u cut the fringe or someone cut it for u using a coconut husk…kekeke.

My bugis mate’s sister went to that Technical Knockout College as Pi too. Really2 smart ladies there I tell u, I’d always felt so small & ordinary when she’s around, same lah like their elite male counterpart in Kuala Kangsar…..kakaka.

All in all school was a fun & an exciting period in our lives.


P/S – Good thing is u can still embarrass all your current high status profile schoolmates in public by addressing them using their original school dates nicknames.

Zendra-Maria said...

Tommy, having 4 elder siblings was better than any kindie. I learnt the 3 R's from them lorr... And leadership was honed from being chieh-chieh to 4 younger ones, and diplomatic skills from having to survive being right smack in the middle hehehe

No, no the one who migrated was a friend from secondary school who also taught me a smattering of mandarin. But who knows.. the band conductor might have done so as well.

Oh so Ai Gaik is a Teochew name? Fancy that, her surname was indeed Chew. No wonder she didn't speak canto like the others who always went "mow kong leii" (don't friend you) at one another. Hahaha bus aunties in the making...

Alahai Tommy, it's not their intelligence that's to be admired but the values that people hold true to that really counts, no matter which school they went to - koleq or kampung, betol tak?

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Hey Zen, it’s not 3R’s, it should be R.A.W as in Reading, Arithmetic, Writing….kakaka. Now2, don’t u go silent with me on this! :))

With a surname of Chew, Ai Gaik is probably a FooChow like those Sibu chinese, I guess her parents runs a Dhoby/launderette in your kampong, correct or not?

Allow me to digress with this amusing school story. I had this eccentric BM teacher of Jawa descent, one fine day in my early secondary school days, Cikgu came in class & after all the normal salutation, and out of the blue he asked the class;

“Murid2, yang berugama Islam, tolong naik tangan,” the malays boys would raise their hands. He walked over to a few & smacked those that raised with their left hand, “#%&* hoi jangan pakai tangan taik”…kekeke. He then continued with the same question, with Buddha, Christian, Hindu & dll.

His final question was; “Sekarang, tolong angkat tangan, murid2 yang takde berugama”, a few kids raised their right hand. “Baik, sekarang murid2 ni tolong datang ke depan kelas.” “Murid2 yang lain, tolong tengok baik2”. “Ini semua nya binatang.” “Kenapa, awak tanya?, kerana hanya binatang yang takde berugama dalam dunia kita ni.” KAKAKAKAKA, the whole class went riot with laughter.

I supposed these r little moment in class that u remembered so well, the off the text books sort of life skill that u picked up. With this current day political correctness, I think Cikgu would have got into trouble. Throughout the 2 years, Cikgu had us, he did taught us little anecdotes similar to these, as a prelude of the real syllabus lessons to come. I guessed that was his unique style to get our full attention b4 he start the day lesson. TQ Cikgu for those invaluable moments for us to cherish.


P/S - I know, I'm hopeless, I remembered those incident above more than I did with my E=MC2 & those 2PI R formula :))

Capt's Longhouse said...


,,,guess it was the Methodist school background that made lots of different as compared to existing normal school ?. I was from ACS Ipoh, another Methodist school before moving across to Penang Technical Institute.
,,,geee it was many moons ago too !! but while talking about schooling days, it feels just like yesterday only lah. Nowadays am meeting up with many of my school mates...eerrmm they look so old !.

tireless mom said...

Is this in any way related to Teacher's Day? I only went to two schools and 1 university. No wonder langkah you jauh sampai naik gunung Zendra... Education is every where and life is by nature a teacher to us. Have you counted how many teachers who taught you at all 13?

kay_leeda said...

Dear Zen,

Having gone to Convent for my primary studies, my greatest envy was girls who came to school in their sparkling Mercs, Peugeots or Volvos. These cars came with air cond, so the girls when they stepped out, hair was so prim and nicely braided.

For us it was the old faithful Toyota, no air cond but we were glad that it got us in time, saving us from being caught by the prefects :)

Zendra-Maria said...

Tommy, it WAS the 3 R's - reading, running and racing heheh. Donnolah what Ai Gaik's parents did for a living - civil servants most likely.

Yes I heard "those" teachers can be quite vicious in boys schools, at least he scared you into following 3 teachings sekali - Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism otherwise jadi binatang! What a way to spread the message :)

Zendra-Maria said...

Capt, it was more to do with the multi-racial make-up of schools those days - race was a transparent thing, it was merit that counted. Even at recess or after school, we all played together. Those were the days yeop oii :)

Zendra-Maria said...

TM, no nothing to do with Teachers' Day. I just happened to remember Ai Gaik's name and started to ramble. But I only remember some teachers - especially those who were friendly with the pupils and also those who were simply bad. How many did it take to educate 1 pupil? Wow - countless!

Zendra-Maria said...

Kay, my time no cars had AC! But the air quality was still OK. And japanese cars did not exist, only british and continental. This was early 60's lah. And no traffic jams too so we could start off for school 10 mins before the bell. Maybe for trishaw riders they started a little earlier and they probably wished their parents would send them by car hehehe

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Zee, looking back, those subtle little incidents have really deep meaningful lesson in them if we really grasp those messages behind them. Basically, what’s he’s trying to convey is that we r all different in many ways but yet we r all the same living as one, subject to the same rules & regulations of the school. Even that ‘tangan taik’ lesson was for us to be aware & be respectful of others custom & religious practises. And yes, binatang too are God creatures as well & ought to be respected too.

For all u know, Cikgu could have written;

We all know
That people are the same wherever you go
There is good and bad in everyone
We learn to live, we learn to give each other
What we need to survive
Together alive

Ebony and ivory
Live together in perfect harmony
Side by side on my piano keyboard
Oh Lord, why don't we?

Ebony and Ivory



Zendra-Maria said...

Very mature interpretation Tommy if that was what you were thinking those days. But impressionable kids might take the word "binatang" hurled at them as a curse or swear word - worth pouring sand into Cikgu's car's petrol tank in retaliation. That was what I heard some kids resorted to at the boys' school i went for Form 6 :)

I wonder if Stevie knew he was ebony?