November 14, 2008

3 Long Years...... 1 Very Long Post......

Not very often I hear my friends talk about revisiting their primary school. Either they dont want to because they think it isn't cool, or they're too hung up with their best buddies having fun/whatever, some just plain forget. I was in the third category, until last week, when I had to duty to help with the registration of the Form 1s for next year, that's when I bumped into my SK Saint Francis teachers for the first time in 3 years.

3 of them were there, Mrs Hong, my Standard 4 English teacher, Puan Malarvillay, Std 6 Science, and Puan Rohaida, Std 4 Kajian Tempatan, Guru Hal Ehwal Murid, and should I say one of my favourite teachers. One of the more cheery ladies in the staff, and she has the talent to always leave the class instiches. Loved her comedy acts. I remember a (horrible) drawing I did of a dinosaur in Std4. She thought it was pregnant. ++"

We had a very long chat. Sure, 3 years is a lot of time to loose touch with those that taught you the basics in education. Along with me was my Form 4 and ex-St Francis buddy Fahmi. So glad the feeling to see one of your favourite teachers still fit and strong. So, we had a real nice chat, asked about how things we're going in our respective schools, teacher retirements, exams, and so on. I even learnt that Puan Rohaida was an ex-SMK Methodist ACS Sitiawan student, and that my Form 2 Maths teacher, Mr Tan, taught Pn Rohaida Add-Maths in Form 4. Oooh. (^^)

So, one of the more notable lines from Rohaida was: "Hey, why not you drop by our school before the year is over? Dah laaaaama tau awak tak datang. La, skejap je, stengah jam pun dah cukup." :D
I went to bed, gave it a good thought. "Yeah, why don't I do that? I could see all the changes after these 3 years."
Somehow that intention got wiped away from my mind until yesterday evening when my friend buzzed me about his cousin's UPSR results. "Oh, shoot, my primary school! I have to do it tomorrow, or I won't have a clear conscience for the rest of my holidays."

So I woke up (late) this morning, and told mum my plan. Her response: "Aiya, no point la, today last day, teachers all busy with work.... want to go chat oso where can...." She was right as I was about to discover. But nonetheless, I had to make the visit. She didn't mind, just thought I'd waste my time there.

I hop on my bike at 10.45AM (hot, yes, I know, I woke up late) and cycled over to my former school. Short ride, just over a minute and I'm there. First thing I see is the refurbished guard house, nicely painted with windows and such. An old Indian lady inside asks for my reason to visit: "Nak jumpa cikgu. I ex-student sini. Dah lama tak datang jumpa mereka." With a warm smile she lets me in. I park my bike just a few steps away from the gate. To my left, two giant trees still standing tall and green. Another to my right. Happy to see them still healthy and giving much needed shade to the little tykes. I walk along the only roadway in the school, with a smaller road turning right towards the canteen. I look around, I can see the white Kancil Mrs Hong drives, the blue Saga Mr Lurman has, and the brown Saga Puan Hemah owns. Sad to say I've forgotten most of the other teacher's cars, and also seeing the parking area with quite a number of cars unseen before in St Francis. Even Mr Thomas' blue Wira was missing D:

Who are these teachers some of you may ask? Well, they're a batch of teachers I was specially close with, and they're well known around school too.

Mr Lurman, ah yes, Penolong Guru Kanan, still holding that same post till today. Still having his trademark moustache. I remember him most fondly for his punishments.Hehe , I remember the King Crab (Pinch both shoulders real hard), the Burger (lightly jabs the stomach, then canning. Depending on severity of the offense, canning harshness can vary.), and finally CharKuey Teow (plain ol ' butt canning). Sometimes during assembly, he would catch some little boys talking, call them out, then ask us which punishment to give.Ahhh, I remember the crowd yelling "KUEY TEOW!!!!!" or "BURGER!!!!!!" Aww... cute eh? Did I mention his cane is actually a meter-rule? He broke a few during my time there, goes to show how rowdy the boys used to be.

Puan Hemah, she was our chorus speaking team coach. I was under her in Std 3 and 4. We would always end up 2nd. Never got the chance to go state level... mmmm.... She's close with my bro as well, still remembers his name after all these years, I oughta ask him this specialty between them... (^^)

Mr Thomas *shivers* our discipline teacher. I got a stern warning once in Std 1, he caught me dancing like a drunk man.... *blush* That was scary, and now as I see it, erm, no comments. He had a good sense of humour too. He liked to refer underwear as "spender". We'd laugh always at his spender remarks. But he was a really fierce man. If one isnt close with him, it's a guarantee he will be very afraid of Mr Thomas, especially when he whips out his rotan.

Ah, memories......

I start walking, and first noted thing I see is a little metal map of our school. Neat. Never was there during my years. I keep walking up to the first corridor. The row of noticeboards still up on the wall. Among the things posted are the school organization members, Boy Scouts stuff, some Islam stuff, and then the UPSR result sheets. My goodness, only 4 out of 40+ students with straight As???

I knocked on the staff room door, and I was greeted with a warm welcome and smile from all those knew me then. Which wasn't alot. Most of them weren't in school. A lot of them were new teachers who came to St Francis after I left. First one I said "Hi" to was En Lurman. Still young looking, still strong. Another 8 years before his retirement.
"Cikgu, Mr Thomas pergi mane dah?"
"La, kena transfered la..."
"Aduh.... Ingatkan masih ade kat sini..."
"Macam mane UPSR tahun ni?"
"4 je...."
"4?? Apesal, cikgu?"

Puan Rohaida cuts in:
"Ala, kena tengok the batch of students for the year la.... Tahun ni.... tak bagus sangat la.... Tak pe la, tahun lepas 3 orang je..."
"Aduhai.... apesal tiba tiba teruk sangat, cikgu?"
"Entah, tahun lepas batch tak bagus, UPSR results pun begitu le.... tapi year before that 10 orang, our best record to date. Tahun awak berape orang straight As?"
"err... 5 atau 6 la, cikgu...."
"Mmm... tengok lah tahun depan. Manatau dapat 2 orang je 5A..... *laughs*"

Mr Lurman was in St Francis when my bro was there as well. You figure. Next was my Std6 English teacher, Mrs Lim. She also lead me to 2nd place in the Manjung District Public Speaking Competition. She too, still young loooking. I doubt I'll need to ask when she will end her educating career. Turn around, there was Puan Hemah. We didn't chat much, she had tons of work to do. As I said, mum was right, teachers really were busy, although I still managed to have a brief chat with the teachers I met. Glad to have made this trip. Very, very, glad. (^^)

I leave the staff room, with the teachers busy with their paperwork. I walked along a smaller walkway, I see the little reading hut still the same, now crammed with book shelves, but only one round marble table. Also there is a nice little washing area, like something you see near your school surau maybe.

Walking, I stop at the library. Nothing changed since I left. Every rack, table, even the tv and computer (Hmmm.......) still remain the same. I lay my hands on the wooden shelves, the very same wood that stood there since Std1. Quite dusty though. There's also multiple clocks showing international times, still up there, all 8 clocks still running. Must've been alotta batteries since they were there in 2004. I walk down the 2nd of the 2 main corridors.

These were my Std 1 and 2 classes. Ahh, all the memories I had here. One time I put my bottle of juice on the shelf for our bottles, mine got swamped with ants. Still could see all the cartoon cut outs and decors for the classes, as I tread through the wave of little boys running around, like those vids you see one lone man slowly walking among a blur of the crowd. I saw one boy with a clothes hangar stick on his back collar. Hmm..... Once wooden blackboards now metal whiteboards. The old paint in Std 1 still stands, although faded. The same sliding doors still move smoothly, after all these years. At the end of the corridor is the PJ room and sort of like re-hab class for the rly struggling students. Puan Safinah, the teacher in charge of these classes, I learnt had retired this year. Good luck to the teacher taking over. PJ room locked, but the distinct feel of rough cement floors and cold cement walls hasnt chnaged one bit. The rehab class still bright and perky too.

As I walk around the back, I reach my Std 3 and 4 classroom. Lacquered wooden doors replace the old broken ones (finally). One little fella yanked me into my Std 3 class. No teacher inside. Tables and chairs still pretty much the same wooden ones we had. Another lil guy came up to me.

"Abang ni siape?"
"Abang dulu belajar sini punye"
"Ooo... skarang abang tingkatan ape?"
"Tingkatan 3...."

Another boy peeps up and says he's in Form 4.... cute guy.

"Abang buat ape datang? nak gaduh ke? hah?"
"La, abang lawat je.... Lawat cikgu, tengok skolah. Dah 3 tahun abang tak balik sini...."
"ooo.. nak saya jadi tour guide ke, abang? I buat free punye"
"tak payah la.... abang takkan sesat...."

I leave the class, and stop in the middle of the multi-purpose court. Assemblys, PJ, anything can go on here. I remember the times nobody could reach the tip of the basketball board. I tip-toed. I could. :D

Sadly however the trees along the front of the court got lopped off. Now there's no shade for them to sit here. As I type, I remember the times me and my buddies had recess here, swapping food, especially my buds fighting for my single chocolate bar. I remember the time one Indian man (dont know what to call them) he came to this court to do a demo of his mental strength. My old, old, ex-headmaster Mr Muzamuddin drove his old green Mercedes over one of the man's arms. He didn' feel a pinch even. Then Mr Muddin stepped on his other arm, while that arm was laying on a bed of broken glass. No cuts, and no pain.

Walk across the road, I reach the field. Here stood more tall, giant, shady trees.I remember we had a camp here once, I had to climb a rope attached high up on one of the branches. Regret my hefty body, I didnt reach the top... ++"

Most of my co-curricular stuff was held here, thanks to the shade. Ants crawl all over the trees, I didn't dare touch the tree trunk, even though I really wanted to. Wanted to feel the same trees that stood for decades, the trees that held so many of my memories, that still last till today.

I make my way back over to the first corridor that I arrived at, and went though a little walkway where we have the toilets. Doors have been changed, and with a new coat of paint now. Ooh, and opposite the toilet they have an aquarium now. Cool. (^^) From where I stood, I could see the canteen has been extended by some, 3-5 meters. The teachers' eating area has extended almost double in size from last time. Now everyone has more space to eat. (^^) Too bad I couldn't enjoy that spac last time.... bleh.

I walk back along the corridor, where the Std 5 and 6 classes are. Ah, I hear the loud and young voice of my BM Std6 teacher, Mr Hisham. A firm handshake, and I stood a tad bit taller than him, when 3 years ago he towered above all of us. He too was busy, so our chat was short. He gave the class a teeny lil' motivation speech with me included, as one boy sitting in front of me shook my hand. A few boys shook my hand throughout my visit, but I don't remember any of them. They even called out "Abang! Apa khabar abang!" but, meh, I think they were just being nice. If they do remember me, well, that's really something special then.

I end my tour with a short chat with the gardeners, talked about the new headmistress that took over this year. They said she's more strict than any headmaster is recent years, and the teachers would always be in class, sharp on time.

As I look around on my bike, one last time for who knows how many more years, I see the green grass, the tall trees, the fresh coat of school paint, and most importantly, 6 years of fond memories of friends, teachers, laughter, fun, running around, the bonding, trials and tribulations, every bit of my life with friends here in Saint Francis revisited, took a deep breath and felt how 6 years could feel like just hours, when it felt like forever when we were young(er). One of my childhood buddies Nadzmi plans for another reunion with us ex-St Francis boys on 26th November. I hope I can take them around our old school, and have them relive the Saint Francis life we've shared, together.

Most of you won't bother with revisitng your primary school, maybe you're too busy. No, you WILL be too busy. If you do have the time, spare just one hour plus, relive your childhood memories. I don't have any camera to use yet, hope to get one from PMR, then maybe I'll snap up some pics for y'all to see. If you do, you'd best do so. Who knows if your memory would fail you 50-60 years from now. You won't even recall a single bit of your primary school days, when you were young and hyperactive.

You try revisiting your primary school. Every step, every touch on anything, every smile on your former teachers, you'd be surprised the memories will come back and leave a smile on you face, maybe even shed a tear.

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