The year 1967.
My loci had enlarged and the centre had moved. The Eid Shawal was on Thursday Jan 12. I did not quite spend the day, even when Ripin my kampung mate took me to Rex, KT for a film show, I managed to elude myself and cycled home alone. I began to discern that Eid was important only as an end to the preceeding Ramadan.
I returned to the hostel on Sat Jan 14 noon. I was fasting and going to do it for three days, a way to express my thankfulness for the SRP results I was blessed with. The school reopened on Sun Jan 15. I continued to stay in the hostel and my SRP result was a news since the Sat evening. On Sunday the first day, the assembly was after the recess. During the assembly, the HM CheGu Nordin Nasir announced the first ever good SRP result, it was the best in the whole Malaysia; it was my result. I was very flattered, standing among my fellow class-mates, I felt the chill throughout my body and I felt every single hair on my head was standing in ovation. That day every one in the school, especially the teachers, knew my name, although some of them had yet to paste my img. In the same assembly, form four classes were set; I was in Form 4A.
However, CheGu Nordin also announced that the pack of ten, minus Mariam were selected to study in Sekolah Alam Shah (SAS), Jalan Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. We had only a few days to prepare and had to report to the school as soon as possible. Abdullah Embong, Abdullah Yusof, Ismail Mohamad, Jalil Ghani, Mohd Embong, Omar Taib, Othman Ngah, Shafie Mohd and my self. We went home immediately after taking the offer letter to start preparation and especially the forms to be filled, the VIPs as high as DO had to be chased for their signatures. I could not pay much attention to accessories preparation because I had not enough money, and I put the stak on the info in the offer form that those things were available in the school shop.
I left the hostel, and the Sekolah Menengah Dato' Sri Amar Di-Raja aka SMK Padang Midin on the morning of Wednesday Jan 18, with Ismail, after a quick goodbye to form 4A (because I felt I was leaving something in the class that I could not take out just then), carrying all my belongings, took the bus to KT, then home. Jalil, the other hostel boarder had left the day before, and Shafie on the very first day Sunday - they were chasing their own district DO's, the former in Marang and the letter in Kemaman. News travelled fast to my relatives; the most cheerful were my mother's relatives; in the four days I had left before set off to KL, many of them came to visit us to well-wish me all the way from Mengabang Telung and Mengabang Panjang.
Jalan Mahkota, Kuantan in 1967. Taxi stand where to 1972 I was an infrequent passenger. Sat Aug 19, we en routed from KT in express bus to KL after second term break with CheGu Ghazali Haron, apparently he went through in his HSC in 1966, and went to MU the following session. Here at the taxi we went to our own destination.
We decided to travel together to Kuala Lumpur, none of us had any experience in a distant trevelling before, especially to KL where everything there, in our mind, was very advanced. We set off on Thursday Jan 19. My mother, my brother, Abang Wi, and MakTeh sent me off (by AyhChik Mat 'taxi' for the early morning trip) at KT bus station to board the Kuantan Express at 7.30am (no direct express to KL). We were tagging closely behind two seniors, Abd Latif Awang (known to Abdullah Yusof) and Zakaria Md Amin (known to Mohd Embong) who incidentally had to delay in returning to SAS because of the flood in Pahang. The journey to Kuantan was pleasant because it was mostly along the coast of the South China Sea. I made a note when we were climbing the Kijal Hill, a trip Abdullah Che Din (from Kemaman) described as a very scary experience to us every time he returned to the hostel. The express to Kuantan at 12.30 to Kuala Lumpur was fully booked and was no more trip after that for the day; it was no way it could be booked from Trengganu. So the seniors arranged us to go by taxi (cosy in new Mercedes 122, er, er, 'mata belalang'). The journey was really adventurous to us, a ride through the thick jungle on a road never wider than two-ways single carriage-way, tailing timber lorries or the opposite. Every one was really scared riding from Bentong for the first time to Gombak. The winding road, circling the hill, ascending, then descending; new bend was negotiated before the end of the previous bend; the road was at higher level than the tallest tree in the ravine below. If the taxi (or a vehicle) jumps out of the road, it would not fall into the ravine, but would hang on top of the tree. Ascending Kijal Hill, as I would tell Abdullah Che Din, was a very pleasant trip compared to ascending and descending the Bentong Hill. We reached Sekolah Alam Shah, Jalan Cheras in the taxi from Kuantan (as arranged) that evening, at ca. 4.30pm. Entering Kuala Lumpur at Gombak, then cruising Circular Road to Cheras Road was not of much interest to us apart from the big 'houses'. But wait, in a few days time when we go to KL proper we would know that KL was different from KT and we must brace ourselves to face it.
(Left) Sekolah Alam Shah (SAS) in 1967; Specialist Teachers Training Institute (STTI) is on the background, we shared the sports field, SASian shared their swimming pool too. Another teachers training college was in the vicinity, (invisible out) to the NE of the picture: Technical Teachers Training Centre (TTTC). (Right) New class-mates, in Form 4Sn2, those with initials J, K, L, and M.
The magnificient SAS in 1967 viewed from STTI.
Lunch and dinner in the dining hall (pic courtsy of Prof Kamarudin Yusof);
Viewed from former Tembusu Camp, Room 3A1 and 3A2, top floor, where I stayed for three years, 1967 - 1969 (pic 1999).
|Every SAS-ians would remember this indispensable tool: the Collins Malay Gem Dictionary by Abdul Rahman Yusop. All our textbooks in SAS were in english, and this dic was the only tool available (very much 'underpower' though) to push us to crawl from the fully Malay textbooks to fully english textbooks. I remembered I had a very hard time for the whole night in one night prep-class to understand the word "substance" when I was reading the "Biology for Tropical Schools", our biology textbook.|
Rani Ali, Che Mat Jusoh, Wan Ismail and Aziz Ibrahim.
Posting for the first time in the new school, L-R Back Row: Abdullah Embong, Omar Taib, Mohd Embong, Mat Zakaria; Front Row: Ismail Mohd and Jalil Ghani. Absent were Othman Ngah, Abdullah Yusof and Shafie Mohamad from the 9-pax.
Going to KL was very exciting because I had not been travelling far away before. At the beginning the exciting experiences I was expecting turned out to be a rather chilly lonesome in being very far away from home, a new fear amid eight hundreds alien boys from even extreme remoteness of the country speaking 'very different' language from myself, and pulling all the pushing stresses was the inherently very thin wallet which I owned. The first few weeks in the new school was very hard for me. I had to play around with my insufficient preparations and insufficient money to furnish them. I was more worried about my younger sisters and brothers at home whose future might change the way it wouldn't happen had it known and dependent on my presence than about my parents worry, especially my mother, on my well-being in being myself very far away and unreachable to her. From the dorm, one night still in Jan, I viewed from the window towards the east, through the then small city of KL, deeper into the horizon where the silhouette of Banjaran Titiwangsa met the dimly-lighted night skyline, I almost shed my tears feeling I miss my mother very much. I was very scared indeed, I scared to know that my mother would not have any mean to know whether I was alright or not in here.
|CheGu Arifin Suhaimi, the HM, a very dedicated teacher;||CheGu Ramlah, my Malay teacher. She took over from CheGu Yahya;||CheGu Baharin, my add math teacher in form four. He left SAS to Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka;||Miss Chong Sook Kuen, my elementary mathematic teacher. She taught the math in English, and the questions too, all the way through to SPM 1968. This was the only subject we learned in English;|
|CheGu Puteh Maheran Ariffin, my geog teacher in form four. During the final exam in Oct, I scored the paper to almost perfect, with the favorite Q on the differences between logging industry in Canada and Malaysia, which were not in the textbook;||CheGu Aminah, my biology teacher. She took over from CheGu Harun;||CheGu Mohamad Ismail, my physics teacher. He took over from CheGu Amlir Aziz, a part-timer from RRI. He became my 4sn2 form teacher as well, taking over from Mr Tan Pock Chin. Since leaving SAS 1970 Nov, I met him once only, 1996 Jul 22 Mon in DBP. He came to help DBP putting up the military terminology. We had lunch together on the day.||CheGu Baharudin Ahmad, my chemistry teacher;|
|Mr Tan Pock Chin, my initial form teacher 4sn2, and PE teacher;||Ustaz Kasim Salleh, who shared with CheGu Raja Teh teaching us Islamic Studies;||Mr Stephen Pulvers, my English (American) teacher;||CheGu Khalid, the deputy HM. His ferocity, was feared by even the fifth formers;|
Professor Dr Ungku Omar Ahmad
I was scared with the "ragging" things in the hostel. I dared not go to other dorms to find my friends, I met them only in the class. I noticed the upper-sixers were very mature, and especially the prefects ran everything in the school. I rarely saw teachers in the hostel, and I saw HM, CheGu Arifin Suhaimi only during Monday morning assembly in the hall. Teachers only taught lessons in the class. Students activities, societies, games, clubs, study tour, arrangement of outside speaker for "ceramah", all were done by students. And the HB, Md Jusof Lazim, himself was the school football team captain, always seen discussing with HM and chief warden, CheGu Khalid Halim. Even society president chaired the "ceramah" by honourable guests such as Tuan Haji Ali Munawar (Friday Feb 24), Hamka (Sunday June 18), and Professor Ungku Omar (Thursday July 13). Students, mainly from BUSAS delivered "khutbah" during Friday prayer when we were allowed to perform prayer in the hall, instead of walking to Kampung Congo on Friday afternoon. The Imam was either HM CheGu Arifin or the invited one from Kampung Congo mosque. Seniors guided juniors in weekly "koku" activities such as St. John Ambulance, and scouts; many of them were King's Scouts.
My sole "provider" was the Federal Minor Scholarship, which in fact had been keeping my schooling life ticking since 1964; RM25 monthly when I was in Trg and had been increased to RM40 in SAS. On top of that a travelling allowance from home to school were also provided three times a year irrespective of where the student lived. For those travelling by train, warrant ticket on third class coach were provided. Nevertheless, for six-former, the allowance was not provided, but their scholarship were RM55. Every one in SAS was on the "dole". The school kept an account for every one, for the money were not given every month. It was given only when necessary, like school holiday times, or for a break in KL festival during "Merdeka" celebration, in a small quantum. The school stocked every item needed by the students: books, bedding materials (blanket and pillow were provided), and items for certain games such as football boots; and student bought through debit system. The balance of each student scholarship were handed only at the end of their fifth-form and at the end of their sixth-form.
The prize my team, 4Sn2 won in the quiz.
Mohd Yunus Awang
The upper-sixers were more "friendly" to their 'younger brothers' compared to lower sixth-formers; the fifth-former always tried to manace the fourth-formers. I drew the upper six-formers hospitality considerably. Moreover, most of my dorm-mates were upper-sixth-formers. One of them was Hamzah Shahrum of dorm 3A3, who cut my hair regularly for I could not effort commercial hair styling outside the school. His younger brother, Jamaluddin was my class-mate. Misan did not mind lending me his comb. Basri and Bakri never failed to advice me on anything; the latter who had relatives in KL always brought cookies to the hostel and shared with us. Mohd Yunus Awang was more like my brother.
On Thursday March 30, it was Speech Day, the 3rd for SAS. Students participated very actively in shows and exhibitions, and after all those preparations it was also for the students to watch and enjoyed among themselves. I took part in "dikir barat" with "Tok Jora" Zakaria Md Amin, an upper-sixer. DYMM Sultan Selangor was the guest of honour. Very few parents were invited, because it was known that they would not be able to come.
NETS ticketing office in Kota Bharu Bus Station in April 1967
So off we went home for the first time on Wednesday April 5, first by taxi (with Abdullah Embong) to Kuantan, then by bus to KT. We made the return journey, nine of us, lead by Wan Mohamed, a fifth-former, by train. It started from KT by NETS express bus on Friday April 28, put up in Pengkalan Chepa, in Rahim's place, also a fifth-former, a close friend of Wan Mohamed. That was the first time I saw Kota Bharu. The next morning we "cashed" our warrant and took the train at Palekbang, together with Rahim and the whole lot of SASian Kelantanese, to reach KL on Sunday morning April 30. That was my first train journey and it was very exciting indeed, including a coach transfer at Gemas interchange because the one we boarded at KB was going to Singapore, not KL.
The prize I collected from the PM school for my Science in SRP last year; it was present in my absentia during its 1967 Speech Day, Tue Apr 4, En Hamdan Tahir was the Guest of Honour. It was a geography book, used as a text book in the school for SPM.
|A Timex watch. I kept opening the back of it, to get it accurate to a second. Amazingly, its water-proof never failed, and it stayed for about two years, its life with me.|
On Tuesday June 20, I received a letter from my former School HM in Trg that I had my RM100 prize from HELIX for the best SRP passer in Trg. It was ceremoniously given away during morning weekly assembly on Monday July 10 by SAS HM, together with those from other state (among them Mahzan Bakar for Perlis, Abdul Jelani Ahmad Khan for Johor, Mat Zuber Ramli for Perak, and Kamarudin Yusof for Pahang, all in my class), and also my Science Quiz winning prize. That was the first cheque I received. With every ignorance on how a cheque operates, with Mahzan I tried to cash it in Malayan Banking at Jalan Raja infront of GPO, at 3.30 pm on Friday July 14, and obviously it ended up depositing in the POSV at the late hours. I used the money to buy my first wrist watch, a RM25 Timex at Jln Tuanku Abdul Rahman on Saturday September 2. And that was after a gallant celebration in KL to marked the 10th Merdeka Day for many days from August 31; the students were given every opportunity to participate, day and night at Lake Garden, both stadiums, and up to MAHA site in Petaling. On August 29 I received another registered letter from my former school HM containing another cash award, a token though, this time from NUT for the same 1966 SRP results.
Second term break began on Wednesday July 26, and the third term began on Monday Aug 21. Going home this time was not as "adventurous" as during the first term. We travelled by bus to-and-fro. Before I took off back to school my mother made a small "kenduri" of "nasi kunyit" on Friday afternoon Aug 18 for I thought that she felt she ought to do that. All my father's brothers and sisters attended. She had not done it before for me since 1964, not even in Jan when I first "set sail" to KL. In the bus on Aug 19 was CheGu Ghazali Haron and his wife on his way to KL; he apparently was a MU student after making through the HSC in Nov 1966 last year.
My true trial of life in SAS actually began on Thursday June 29: the mid-year exam. I did not quite knew how I compared with others in the whole form four although my marks was the highest on the registration day in Jan. It was confirmed by Monday July 24 that I cleared myself at the top in my class, but did not know how the other two performed. But I pulled myself together in one piece for the final year exam which began on Monday Oct 30. When all the results were known by Thursday Nov 23, it was crystal clear that I got all what I wanted, and before the third term long vacation began on Tuesday Nov 28 I was set to looking foward for the Speech Day 1968.
Idris Mamat (left) and Wan Mohamed Wan Muda (right).
Kuantan Mosque, 1967. The Imam was a friend of Idris's father. Idris took us to turn to him in the night of Sat Dec 2, after a day mission journey to Kuantan from Kuala Lumpur. He gave us food and shelter, and the first 'sahur' of the Ramadan at his home, and put us on Express to Kuala Terengganu the next day.
Shawal (Eid) would probably be in new year next year; and I could spend the whole Ramadan at home. Ramadan always offered us a surface to reflect on things for the past twelve months. On my arrival at home during the first term break in April, my mother was not at home. She was in Tepoh, on non-daily padi planting job. My brothers and sisters stayed with my father who practically home-ridden; he moved about only around the house. Until she returned two days later, I bought for them whatever they needed. This Eid was going to be the second time Akmam would spend the Eid in her home. She was too small to understand anything. A few times when I was at home, my mother alone went to see her. My mother was very tired, but she had to wait many more years to see I would be standing tall; at least to then, I was independent. I believed she never stopped praying for my future, and believed in her prayer. I never stopped believing my father believed the same thing. My elder brother could stand on his own, but would not be tall for a hope. My younger brother was in the sec school in Seberang Takir, unassisted, and he was in need of a functioning non-new bicycle; he got one. I was worried more about him than my mother because he was teening at home in my mother's away. During the second term break in July, TokChik Hiliran had her #1 son 'berkhatan', and she insisted that I stayed with them for several days. I even set off from her home in Hiliran to catch the early morning Express in the return journey to Kuantan to Kuala Lumpur. The bonds with my former school buddies still exist during the first term and second term breaks; I met Md Nor Hassan, Ismail Taib and many juniors, in KT's Jln Banggol - Jln Masjid delta and in the hostel. The Ramadan in the third term break took everyone to their family.
Edition dated May 2003