The Perak Man and I could have shared the same Alma Mater
For that I would claim that that school must be the oldest school in Malaysia!
I recently went to a wedding in Taman Tun. That was the second invites I got from the host. The first time I was seated next to a UKM lecturer and while we were having our small chat, he asked me about my relationship with the host. I said, “Well, I was bride’s mother’s Std 3 student!” He was surprised, “And you all still keep in touch?”
(Hey, I am not that old you know! ;-) )
Yeah, we do. Cikgu Faridah and her husband Cikgu Hizam are family friends of my parents, and the first three of us kids were, at one time or another, taught by one of them. In my case, cikgu Faridah was my class teacher for Std 3 in SRJK (I) Lenggong in 1972. A nice teacher eventhough I didn’t do too well then because of the eye-sight problem that I have that year, so I had to move from the back of the classroom (I was the biggest boy obviously) to the front of the class, next to a girl (Sarah was her name), so my study suffered! Hahaha, joking only mah! She kept on reminding me how my study had deteriorated, but there was little I could do without glasses.
The second time we got invited to another of their daughter’s wedding, the Hariri’s family was allocated a table of our own. And just two tables away was a group of their teacher’s friends from Lenggong. And obviously their teacher friends had to be our teachers too!
So that’s how I met again my Std 2 (1971) teacher Cikgu Laily. I would have to say she was perhaps one of my favourite teachers, if not the favourite teacher. I couldn’t recognize her to be honest, and I must say that I didn’t realize that how far we had gone through time. Whatever memory I had of her, that’s not how I remember her. I remember a very fair, good looking - make that pretty - teacher. I believe the feeling was mutual, in the sense in front of her at that time is not the innocent 8-year old rural town boy, but a 40-something father of two, all burnt out from life’s pressures. She is still soft spoken I must admit.
I guess it is different with Cikgu Faridah and Cikgu Hizam. We probably met every few years, so the changes are more gradual. As for Cikgu Laily, well that was the first time I saw her again after leaving Lenggong for Taiping at the end of 1972; that’s more than 35 years ago. But I have fond memories of her. I excelled under her tutelage and was untouchable then – it helped, of course, that the smartest girl in school was no longer around. (More of her later.) I really enjoyed her class and her presence as a teacher.
Cikgu Laily, I especially remember the subject “Berita” where we had to write a short story or news and present it to the class. At one time I wrote a story along this line; “Yesterday I saw a beggar who was all wet by the rain. He went into an old barn and light up a fire to heat up his body’” and of course complete with a drawing of someone lighting up a fire next to a cow, or something resembling someone and a cow. OK OK I am no Picasso or Latif Mohidin!
I guess it must have been so real that she had to ask me if that was a true story! I didn’t answer her; I just smiled. (Of course I made that up. I was quite imaginative then.) Oh, BTW I learned that song Senjakala in her class.
Another teacher during those years was cikgu Ainon; my Std 1 teacher of 1970. She was the only teacher who would dare caning an anak Hariri. Well it was my fault really and if bapak were to read this I am sure he would applaud Cikgu Ainon for that. Since I was a big-sized boy for my age, I would normally have to sit at the back . Back then I had a good friend, Fazidah who is the daughter of bapak’s boss at the Pejabat Tanah (the ADO), so at every opportunity I would chit-chat with her. Well, when we were in the same class, I had to play second fiddle to her – she definitely was smarter.
So during one of those rare lull periods, Cikgu Ainon would ask us to do our own reading, while she was marking the books or something along the line. I had other ideas then. So like all hyper-active Std 1 boys, I would sneak to Fazidah’s desk – hiding behind rows of tables, for another chit-chat session. I guess we were engrossed in our chats – God knows what seven year olds would talk about - that we didn’t realize that Cikgu Ainon was right behind me and all of the sudden I heard a swooshing sound and felt an excruciating pain on my back. She had hit me with a rotan! Take that for defying her order.
But I guess that didn’t devalue me in her eyes. Many a times, she would ask Fazidah and me to do the honour and ‘ring’ the bell for the break. The first time she asked us, we had difficulty finding it. By the time we found it after asking around, Cikgu Ainon had beaten us to the bell! I guess we must have taken so long a time, or may be she thought we had abandoned the search and gone to the canteen ourselves!
Aah, my old school, literally.
The one on the left is my Std 1 class building while the one on the right was my Std 3 classroom building. It is a pity it is in such dilapidated state. I had fond memories of my first 3 years at school. Tempat jatuh lagi dikenang, inikan pulak tempat bermain (dan belajar)!
Unfortunately like the abode of the Perak man, the school is in ruin. Like many rural schools, it was built using timber, so it didn’t last that long. It’s a pity. The building is no longer in use and the school has been relocated to another site. I was told recently by an ex-classmate, who took the trouble to look for me through Ansara KB, that many of us are doing quite well. We have a couple of engineers (ehem ehem), a doctor, a couple of professors, many teachers, many businessmen/women etc in our midst. Quite an achievement for a school in a town quite remote, where in the 60s you would have to pass by a couple of army posts to get to town. Communist insurgency was not the only problem then, it was so remote that when one night we had a car breakdown in the middle of nowhere on our return to Lenggong (from Taiping), bapak told us to wind up all the windows while he went out to check on the engine. It was pitch black outside. Mr Rimau was the problem in the 70s!
The view of the main entrance of the school. One could see the padang where we had our scout jamboree in 1972 and all the sport activities. The blue building in the background is the Balai Raya where it used to host my kindergarten class. The hibiscus flower in the middle the building is still there. It was at this Padang that we watched our first public screening of a cowboy-red indian movie. We didnt buy any drink or food there as we were warned about possible 'santau'. Despite that, we had our fun in the moonlight!
Then again, I am not surprised by my exclassmates’ achievement. The Lenggong Valley is the prehistoric capital of Malaysia and we were right in the middle of it. There must be a reason why our prehistoric ancestors chose Lenggong Valley for their abode. I am sure it rubbed off to us kids during those days.
Of course we had a strong foundation set by our teachers then. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.