Saturday, September 21, 2013

Once a Tiger

Initially, I was a bit reluctant to join, but he insisted.

"There will be many from our primary school, furthermore I will also be around," Siva trying hard to convince me.

I don't really know everybody, to be honest. After all, this is basically a secondary school gathering - Class of 1980, to be precise. I was barely there then - a mere 2 weeks in January of 1976, while biding for time before heading to a boarding school in Kota Bharu, so far removed from Taiping. Other than that, I was an Edwardian in Std 6 in KE-1 primary in 1975 (from  1973). That means I have not seen them for at least 38 years. That's a lifetime, to be honest.

I had attended my main alma mater Class of 1980 reunion years ago, but that was for a secondary school where I had studied for 5 years.

Studied and lived, if I may correct that, which means that I was there 24 hours a day, not quite 365 days a year though, and knew almost everybody. I am still waiting for the 50th year anniversary reunion, but that's like waiting for the cat to grow horns. It probably will never come. The organizing committee must have been hibernating in a cave somewhere.

So the KE anniversary seems like an ideal alternative.

I was counting on the fact that I was a rugby player in primary school. I was the 8th person in scrum in the primary school rugby team. For the uninitiated - like me - it is considered as the last person. Typically that position is reserved to the biggest (and most powerful) boy, as he is required to push all his seven mates in front of him, against another 8 persons in the opposite side. So many should, and would remember me - that's what I was hoping.

But ignore the 'powerful' statement. I don't believe it myself. Hahaha.
If not for Siva, I would not be here. By this time, I felt at home with familiar faces all around me, so it was a joyous occasion for everybody, including yours truly.
Siva, now a teacher at KE himself, was a classmate and more importantly was part of the team that won the Perak rugby championship for U-12 in 1975, and by virtue of that alone, no one can question our (read: my) credibility as a Tiger.

I thought I would qualify as as permanent OE member automatically, never mind him. You can read about our exploits in 1975 here.
Smiles all around. Rahman Salleh is a good friend until today as we live in the same Taman in Taiping. Well, my mother's house anyway, so I meet up with him regularly every time I return home to Taiping.
So upon arriving at at Selangor Royal Club that Saturday night (14 Sept 2013), immediately Siva greeted me. I was relieved. He is a familiar face as I had met him again last year. Immediately he informed another friend - Zainal Azman. Yes, another person I had met a few years ago.

And while I was about to register myself, another guy approached and said, "Hey Rahman, do you remember me?"
Singing session. Gim Teik is on the right.

I stared intently at him, smiling but it was a blank stare. I can't for the life of me figured him out. He - whoever he was then, was a matured man of 50, just like me. I am sure I last saw him as a 12-year old. I told Siva that it was unfair for him to declare my name to this guy, while I had to figure him out on my own.

"Gim Teik," he told me. That's all that I need. Of course I remember Cheong Gim Teik.

Gim Teik was a very generous guy - generous in his compliment. He took me around while telling everybody about my exploits in rugby at KE primary. "He is the last man in scrum - the 8th person. Without him, we would not have won the state rugby championship," he said.

Well, it is nice to be remembered in such an endearing fashion, but honestly I don't deserve such accolade. I was the last person - that much I would admit, but I was not the star player then. That accolade should go to Azli, whom I believe was a very nippy and critical player then, (and perhaps Muniandy and Ahada).
Wishing ourselves happy birthday in 3 languages
But I played my part, as did everybody in the team. We had buried the previous year's (1974) albatross hanging over our heads - that massive loss (0-98) to Clifford of Kuala Kangsar by our seniors. It was a tight game this time around - in the first 10 mins, we were trailing 0-8, but we regrouped. We were the better team and won reasonably convincingly (19-11) in the end.

The Edwardians were a boisterous lot. They were loud, they were rowdy - as they should be. I had never seen such a jovial friendship and camaraderie. Honestly my main secondary school alma mater did not come close to having the OE spirit, and paled in comparison.

May be because KE is a boys school - there was no protocol to follow. May be KE was such a mixed school in term of race - every race was represented, and represented well at school and during the reunion. With beers flowing freely - it was not free though, even the most reserved person would soon get rowdy.

Hahaha - don't worry, we did not touch any. We had to sing the school song, which I had never heard before. I guess when we were at primary we did not have that song, I am not sure. But luckily, many had to look at the lyric sheet to sing along, just like yours truly.

But sing they did. With their hearts and with pride.

There was no 1Malaysia then, but there was no need for one. I think there was no segregation in as far as Edwardians were concerned then. We mixed with everybody, and we mixed very well then. We even had 6 Indians in the takraw team!

I saw Gim Leong. Still look young enough for me to recognize him and apparently he has good memory to be able to recognize me at first behest. There was no hesitation in his voice when he mentioned my name. Gim Leong was one of the top students, if not the top one. He would always compete with Zakri as the best students then. I could never beat him in exams, to be honest.

Funnily he is also in Oil and gas industry, so we do have something in common. I saw Zaini, Fu Seng, Rahman Salleh and Tharmarajah. I have to apologize to Tharmarajah - I could not figure him out without looking at the class picture and I have misplaced the class pix.
Marriyappan was the heart of the party

I think Mariyappan played a good role in making it a joyous and memorable occasion. He was a jovial person and that trait is contagious to the rest of us!

I also like the fact that everybody was asked to say a few words - obviously many have many things to say, some few. Even I was invited and shared the rugby story with rest, with Cik Razak exclaiming in amazement that I could remember all the scores.(Cikgu Razak was the sole teacher that night. He taught pendidikan seni at SM KE, so I don't really know him.)

Yes sir, I could. It is as if it was only yesterday I played those games!

Loss for words? Not! Personally, I found that it odd and perplexing that no one brought up a rugby story at a KE gathering, so I had to bring up the story of how we won the Perak U-12 rugby tournament. I even related a story I shared with Siva on how we used to poke fun at our Sikh friends, with apology to them - well, he did mainly! We were kids then, and we had learned our lesson from Cikgu Lee Tat Choy that afternoon while waiting for our rugby training session one afternoon in 1975.
Thank you all, thank you for the occasion. It seems that it was organized on the go, and that is a compliment. No pompous ceremony; there was no caste. Everybody is Edwardian, and everybody was wearing the same school-coloured t-shirts.

With pride.
Some of the souvenirs I got from that night
I got myself many school souvenirs - t-shirts, mug, golf umbrella, stickers and a coffee-table book. I don't think my other alma mater would be able to top that - in term of numbers of souvenirs for a batch or even school reunion, and especially for that 'The First Century" book. I had asked them to do one, but got a response saying that they did not want to follow MCKK (since MCKK had also published a book of their old boys reminiscing the old days). Yeah, I know what he means. We are better than MCKK; we are the MRSMers!

Lame excuse though, I must add.
Din Selamat showing off the KE umbrella. I managed to get the bigger golfer umbrella. Unfortunately it rained that night, so we had no choice but to try and stay dry, so it was a good idea to buy the umbrella.
But King Edward, an older and much respected institution had taken the lead. It was not a select school like MRSM. Not as glamorous either, I guess. But King Edward seems to do better in term of spirit of its former students. KE has the tradition and the history on our side. That tiger spirit is missing at my other alma mater; may be because there is no big ego at OE, definitely not for the Class of 1980.

Oh by the way, actually I was not the only one with Edwardian with MRSM connection. Shahrom aka Ohm shares that linkage as does Dr Jalaluddin (who was not there). So that adds up one more familiar face that night.

Eh, MRSMers, especially KB76ers, this is how reunion and anniversary should be organized!

Tigers with two alma maters
(Pictures courtesy of Asokan Chinniah. Thank you, sir.)


  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and pis on that joyous and memorable night. Those faces, once very very familiar have changed bits and pieces. Tigers and men all of you might have been, but i bet tears must have been shed in the hearts of everybody for meeting those faces which have in the later lives become strangers with so many catching up to do.

    Zulkifli Zabidin

  2. I miss the boat, hopefully will join next reunion.

    Saw Kok Peng