Friday, September 25, 2009

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

I am overwhelmed and I have mixed feelings about the reunion last night.

Both good and bad.

Don't get me wrong. I have enjoyed the night; I really do. But I do know and I do realized that it was far from perfect - in fact it was chaotic in a sense. But in the end it didn't matter one single bit.

Or at least I am hoping that that would be the case.

I know we could have done better by having a smoother execution. The what-ifs kept on entering my mind. Not about the past, but about the present. We could have done it better if bla bla. It could have been smoother if bla bla bla yadda yadda yadda. Aaah, well.

I was a nervous wreck the morning of the reunion and had had sleepless night the night after. I slept at 2:30 and woke up at 4:30 am and had my subuh prayer at 6 am at Masjid Jame' for old time sake.

Honestly the overused cliche "It was the best of times and it was the worst of times" would aptly describe the night. Even this to me is an understatement to describe that night. Charles Dickens simply could not find a more poetic and contradictory phrase - an oxymoron if you must, as he had not gone through what we went through on the 23rd day of September.

I didn't even touch the food, so in the end I was so hungry and thirsty. To compound a miserable night for me, I barely talked to the ladies - a quick chat with Tata, and perhaps Nor Rida (if my memory served me right) towards the end, even I was planning to jog their memories of this blogger. No, no, I was wrong. I had a good conversation with Norlida Ghazali since she came in very early, so I managed to catch up with her after 37 years. My memory was wrong in the sense that she was in Std 2 class under cikgu Lily and not just Std 3. Apparently she knew that Arif is taking up flying and mentioned that her husband now works for MAS though I do wonder she got the info from. Uh oh could she be reading this blog?

Oops! I better watch what I write in this blog then.

Anyway great to see you again Norlida, after 37 years. And thanks for coming even with such a short notice since we only recently got your contact info and beyond your pic, we weren't able to do much for you ie tag etc.

In fact the only male classmates that I was able to say hello to was Eddy, Dollah and Kok Ngai. I had met Nazri and Rusita earlier in the morning so I can't count them as persons I had met that night. I told Dollah that if dia lupa pun ok lah, sebab bab lari dia mesti kedepan and this blogger mesti yang last sekali. Kok Ngai reminded me in front of both Cikgu Faridah and Cikgu Lily how we used to compete head-to-head academically. Hehehe, yes I remember that too, but I must add that Std 2 I reigned supreme while I believe he took over in Std 3 (and I was nowhere near then). (Anis mesti kater: "Masuk lift picit butang sendiri")

And Eddy, we live very near each other in Taiping and yet, we had never met since the mid 80's. So good to see you again!

I blame it on the time - too many things to do in too short a time. The fact I was in charge of slide show and musical entertainment compounded the problem for me. I was under stress to be socializing. Tension, tension, as we would call it here.

Come to think of it, I was more like a 'menumpang kasih'. Only three out of six primary school years were spent in SRJK(I). As I have mentioned earlier, three years out of fourty six of my life is anything but a significant number. I spent more years in secondary and have friends and colleagues with more years of friendship.

But even if we were to take into account the mathematics and the numbers, which can never fully describe the complex human emotions especially those who spent 6 years in primary and many more who continued to secondary school and even to university (like Lokman, Eddy, Jerd, Fadhilah etc), one cannot deny the environmental impact of Lenggong and the surrounding, the era that we lived in and the people and the teachers who had made such a big impact on too short a time of our lives. We were in our formative years.

(Huh, that's a mouthful and I am not sure if I writing it correctly - grammatically.)

And how would the mathematics describe my involvement with the reunion even if I was only there for 3 years (or two for my bro).

But even in his menumpang kasih, I do feel close to the my classmates and the years we had together. I saw Nazri in the morning, and he said "kiter dulu dok sebelah". Aah, 37 years and he remembers that, still. Now can you beat that?

That was before my eye sight failed me and I had to move to the front of the class in 1972. Next to a classmate who was there that night.

And I do remember his rumah Penghulu by the small hill in Kuak.

The evening started early with Kok Ngai the first to arrive, while the rest of the organizing committee nowhere in sight. Norlida Ghazali with her family was the second to turn up, and then Goh Chin Chai. After that it was close to free for all, meaning I lost track.

Each family was accorded a goodie bag and a family photo was taken immediately upon arrival, so all things looked well enough and organized.

But the best of plans can go haywire. The teachers were supposed to arrived in one group from the Lenggong Resthouse to the tune of Selamat Datang (Rafeah Buang) but well, they didn't come in group. And of course they can't just go to the their seats without stopping at many checkpoints with some many salam and handshakes and hugging taking place.

It was a traffic jam worst than the one on Saturday along the North South Hiway heading North during the Raya rush! Serious, semut pun lagi laju bro. And Lenggong has not seen anything like this at all.

It took sometimes for them to reach their tables. So we had to change plan impromptu.

By the time the slideshow was to get started, the azan isya' was aired from the nearby Surau; something we didn't take into account. The show had to be halted as a show of respect and resumed a minute after the ending.

The first slide show was a Tribute to the Teachers with a Lenggong Prelude starting it of. The Lenggong Prelude was to the haunting tune of Letter Ama Mere (Richard Clayderman) and took us all to places of interest in Lenggong including the Popular cinema where movies were shown, the Post Office where I guess many surat cinta (monyet) were posted, friends' houses and kampongs. Many of the names (Labit, Sumpitan, Temelong, Kuak) were names in my past that I nearly had forgotten but were timely reminded. I can hear the cat-whistle and the laughter at the back each time a pic or topic of interest were shown.

The tribute to the teachers was to the tune of the aptly titled song Selamat Pagi Cikgu, a pop song by Eddynor.

At the end of the first segment, Kok Ngai as the class asked everybody to standup and all chorused Selamat Datang Cikgu. Twice!

Just like the old days.

Khairul delivered his Kata-kata Aluan speech before Cikgu Hizam was requested to give his.

The speech by Cikgu Hizam was something else. Of course everyone would love to get a praise or two, and for that we would organize another reunion every year. It was well worth the effort. But he singled us out from the 30-35 odd batches (my guess) that he had taught over his career, and why not? When other batches were rearing chickens for end of the year (Std 6 I believe) celebration, we were rearing goat! Now who would have forgotten that?

Caption: Lokman used to be this small, so says Cikgu Hizam, indicating his size then. I am sure it was the size of many of us. Not me though!

Oh how the time had flown. Would any schoolchildren nowadays would have that opportunity to go through what we had gone
through with our teachers?

Kengkawan, I salute you all, and I must say I missed that experience myself. [sigh]

He reminded us of the things we should have as a student - dictionary, and a scrap book. And singled out the incident with Norlida (Nordin) when one day she refused to go to school since she didnt have a scrap book so much so her dad had to go to Cikgu Hizam to clarify about what exactly was the scrap book.

The funny things even at 46, Norlida seems to hesitate to raise her hand when he asked if she was around. Just like the old days, so says Eddy (??) when we went to re-live the reunion at 12.30 am that very night. Cikgu Hizam, a very strict disciplinarian then - who would dare crossed his path then. But I am quite sure she was pleased to be singled out there and then as much as I was pleased to have him mentioned an incident of my bringing Lokman and Mie to his house.

Another story that was re-told when Roslan's parent asked him to do tuition. And while Roslan was doing it all, Cikgu Hizam was taking his nap! (He had told me of this story earlier)

He apologized if he had done anything wrong to his pupils.

Aah, Cikgu, no apology was needed for everything that you did was for us to grow up and be the men and women that we are today. Not from me and I am sure I can speak on behalf of my batch, right guys?

For that we are indebted to all the teachers. Cikgu Aziz who has a prior function decided to join the fray at the last minute. So all in all, three from KL (Cikgu Hizam, Cikgu Faridah, Cikgu Lily) , Cikgu Aziz from Lenggong, Cikgu Aripuddin from KK came and were joined by Cikgu Mokhtar (GB SK Bukit Balai) and two staff of SRJK.

Kelas 6 A - 2009 vs 1975; everybody was seated in accordance with the 1975 pic, minus of course those not able to attend the reunion. We had managed to contact 100% of Class 6A with 28 out of 36 attending. Total class of 70-75 attending is 39. Wonderful.

Someone, it was retold by Lokman was trying his 'taktik lama' on the ladies. That taktik lama was apparently very well known then and known to the boys and he was reminded by Eddy. "Eddy, hang dah masak ngan perangai depa no..hehehe."

Boys were always be boys. Eh, old men will always be men. Hahaha..

Amran in any case had not changed much. I think his hair is fully intact while yours truly had to hide his crown jewel inside a songkok. Hihihi, I am certainly glad that the Malays have adopted the songkok culture especially for the old men like me. It is more for people like me.

I think the Coolbatch ladies were able to sit themselves in one table, as planned by the committee, while the boys were spread out a bit, as families took some table meant for the former students. I can see Norhayati, Norlida Nordin, Norlida Ghazali, Nor Rida, Fadhilah all there. I believe Habibah was there in the end though initially she was not planning to come. Thank you Habibah. Ladies, I do hope to see all of you in a quieter environment for us all to chat.

The second slide was all about us. I won't comment on the impact as I was the main author of the slide so I can't comment objectively without having a vested personal interest. Or as Anis would say, 'masuk lift picit butang sendiri."

The old pictures many not seen by us were from a collection by the school in 2 albums that had seen better days. It was precious. Played to the song This Used to be My Playground, it was a dedication to all the brothers and their antics and the yearning for friendship in the past.

"Say goodbye to yesterday; those are words I'll never say", so says Madonna. I concur with her. Not that night especially.

For the sisters - and since I had survived that night with no husband coming to me with a parang, I'd take it that I had not caused any offence with the chosen song of Maya, the beautiful song about childhood sweetheart.

Hihihi, I am sure many would have some memories of this song even if it was not released during our primary schooldays. In any case, when this song first started getting the airwaves in 1978, I knew that this song was meant for those years at SRJK(I) Lenggong as it had then reminded me of someone (who unfortunately didn't make it that night). But no, I am not about to make any confession in this blog! ;-) (Lokman, I am surprised that you didn't know this song. It was so popular in 1978, but I am glad you like it even if you are 30 years late...hehehe)

Maya, masihkah ingat ku lagi
Adakah tercapai sudah hasrat mu dihati

I do hope the sisters would not mind that song, and how precious they are to our memories.

The best things in life are always free.

Of course I could not leave out the song by Barbra Streisand - The Way We Were, to close the show on the past.

Scattered pictures
of the smiles we left behind,
smiles we gave to one another,
of the way we were

I love the fact that there are many huggings, I love it that there were so many smiling faces around, wide ear-to-ear grins that all came from a genuine pleasure of anticipation and of meeting old friend. That night we were young again, many of us 12 years old. For me I was the youngest at nine that night and I can see all of us as kids. ;-)

The years seems to just melt away. No walls, no barriers.

I have not seen so many happy faces at one place - ever. Many stories were exchanged, told and retold over and over again and no one is complaining of the redundancy. You have the see the pictures taken that night to see that. Unfortunately I was not a privy to many of the stories since I was in front of the stage and I guess many stories should remain just that - stories.

In the end, it was not so much about the food as Lokman and I didn't touch anything and we later had our dinner at 1 am at the Shell food court with Eddy, Jerd, Nan, Mie and many others.

In the end too, I can take the consolation that the reunion is not about a person, a singular person. It is about all of us and the organizing committee has provided a platform for all of us to meet and continue the friendships that were left behind with the passage of time.

I wish the night would never end, but I guess it is like wishing upon a star.


We did continue the next morning at Baiduri's restaurant and the Resthouse! If I am not mistaken I believe Tata probably extended an invites for a Raya visit to her house, but I guess I was rushing home quickly the next day as Akmal would be having his PMR next week, so I would have to take a raincheck, Tata.

And I thought it could never be done. To have 39 former students of Class A of 70-75 is quite an achievement. And to do it in 9 months after the first forum was open is another. Imagine it was the week before Raya that the date was chosen and yet managed to get the numbers is absolutely fantastic.

It can only be one if we have people like Jie. He is the guy who pulled this off. The rest of us were just followers.

Unfortunately I lost my cellphone during that night. Not sure what happened there, but as someone pointed out, may be the phone just refused to leave Lenggong.

Unfortunately too I am not able to show more pics taken during the reunion.

Live music were provided by the two brothers, playing instrument - Piano, Guitar and violin. Old songs such as A Time for Us (Violin/Piano), A comme Amoour (piano Solo), Sealed with a kiss (keyboard/guitar), Ibu (guitar/violin). Of course to me the highlight is the song Cinta Pertama(piano/violin) as requested by a classmate who in the end did not make it to the reunion night [sigh].

Hmm they looked familiar eh? Where have I seen them before?

It went well but I guess many of us were too busy chatting to be appreciative of the live music - soft music as opposed to live electric band. Anyway, guys thanks for the music. Wish I was the one playing.

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