The year 1996.

Alyani went to her Year 1, SRK BB Bangi, beginning December 4, 1995, a strange new beginning for schooling session 1996, effective from this year. Malini, with her 8A continued in KTK Seremban, beginning January 1 in Form 4 in pure science stream. Rubaini got her SPM results on March 7, not extremely good but more than sufficient to get a place in UKM Matriculation in the campus which she checked in Kamsis C on June 28.

SAS revisited this year. Zidni did his best in UPSR last year, and he got what everyone always wanted, 4A and 'Pelajar Harapan'. He jokingly said to his teacher and to me that he wanted to go to SAS, my alma mater, and he seriously got it even though we rather expected that he would be picked up for Maktab Melayu Kuala Kangsar.

We sent him to SAS on December 6, last year. On my arrival, I was greeted and entertained by Mrs Lim, a Matriculation chemistry teacher who recognized me not only as a UKM lecturer involving in the Matriculation teaching but also as a former HB of SAS. She then asked a senior prefect to take me around, unrealising that I was very, very familiar with the place. On that day I did not see any person who knew my bond to SAS, all the present teachers, except Mrs Lim, did not so, even though there were already many SAS old boys came to send their children.

The first thing I showed to Zidni in the school hall when we were registering was the HB Board where my name was printed for the 1970. I wanted him to know that and thus be proud of and then free to feel at home so that he could pay his full attention to his study. As the year rolling he humorously said that he wanted to become like me, and by the year end he was really elected a prefect, to start on duty next year, 1997. We visited him every week except when he was on home week-end, or on term break.

Every time I went there, deep from my soul and my heart the old nostalgic memories resurfaced bit by bit. Some of them were very vivid as I watched the physical venue of the events. My last visit to SAS was in 1971, meaning twenty five years ago.

SAS began admitting Form One boys since late 70s, when Form Six was replaced by UKM Matriculation. It nonetheless continued to admit Form Four, but only a couple of boys a year, to replace the non-performing previous year PMR-ers. Physically SAS had changed a lot, but the main frames were there in peace and in one piece original, including the smell of the toilet next to the class-room, 4 Cita, the toilet I used frequently in 1967. Zidni was put in 1 Maju, the same class I was in, 4Sn2 in 1967. I showed him the supposedly my table in the class.

I felt that the road circling the school was narrower, actually I was bigger and with too many cars passing in both directions, the road obviously looked narrower. The hall and gymnasium were unchanged, as well as the school office apart from a change of position of the HM office. The colour of the stage and the curtain in the assembly hall were unchanged.

I then visited the room 3A1 and 3A2 of Halimi House (B house) and the bed positions where I was staying in 1967 to 1969, and also the HB room where I stayed in 1970. The dorms did not change very much except that the ground floor of A House had been converted to Surau. The ground floor of C House was converted into utility room, then I saw full of Brigade Band instruments.

The HB room became more crowded since a small reception-like office was created, taking half of the room. That place used to have one big table where Tajul and I sat facing each other to read our lessons. The prefect room next to HB room was redecorated into a corporate-look meeting room. I learnt that it was no longer used by the prefects to read their lessons. The girls rest room next to the prefect room, where I used to give shelter to stranded parents, defying the HM order not to do so, was converted for use by the matron. The canteen, the dining hall, and the C Block were there as before. Junior prefects stayed in rooms in C Block where it used to house bachelor Indonesian teachers like Pak Ariffin Harahap. I used to occupy one of the rooms in C Block as my private study room.

An extension were made to the class room block of the main building to cater for the UKM Matriculation, extending to the car park next to the LLN (then TNB) switches house. A new replacement car park was built, on a raised elevation where it was used as a rocket testing ground in my time with Pak Hitler Natasuwarna, the chemistry teacher. The library had its own building, then renamed Resource Centre, built right after the entrance gate. The place was a 'jungle' in my time.

There were many picnic sheds around the school for then parents swarmed in every week-end to visit their children, unlike my time when we were there like inmates. A double storey flats was built extending the old single storey block for the general workers where I used to go to look for Abang Shaari or Gopal when I needed the van or the bus in emergency or already arranged. The Matriculation Block was built behind Dining Hall A across the road.

I went into the dining hall on the day I sent Zidni, for the refreshment the school offered, and it was in Hall A. There was a front table in place of a table where the prefects and I dined every day in 1970 and twice a day, lunch and dinner, I read the prayer for the pupils before the meal, the same spot I dined on the right side of CheGu Mahpor Baba, the HM in the Farewell Dinner on Saturday night October 24, 1970. Practically there was no change in the dining hall considering the twenty-five years time lapsed. I did not know about the menus. I did not go to the Hall B, as I was in it twice or three time only throughout my stay in SAS, 1967 to 1970.

Looking towards STTI from the school office, the field where we had our games and sports was unchanged, but the view told me that many buildings were constructed since then in STTI. I noticed also that the flag poles where I raised the Malaysia flag every day were also looked like unchanged. All trees had grown up in the school compounds, especially the needle-leaves 'pine' or ru behind my HB room, which were only slightly higher than my height, but then had grown to the second floor height. But many big ru trees around the field were cut down and replaced thus were very small, so that the used to be hissing sound of the blowing evening wind had then disappeared.

Tembusu Camp next to the water tank where the scouts used to learn scouting had ceased to exist, it was converted to a sepak raga court. This was one of my favourite spots for picnic with the family every time I visited Zidni. From this spot I could see clearly the room where I stayed in 1967 to 1969. Looking at the room my soul praised the God for His Greatness and His Mercy bestowed on me that I was able to come back to a place I loved very much, where the sweetest taste of my teen-age and schooling life flourished to a full blossom, a taste I could not possibly describe to make my wife and my children fully understand even though they were with me every time I visited Zidni. I never imagined during my stay in SAS in 1967 to 1970 that one day in many years to come I would revisit this sweet place, and with my family, driving a car roomy enough to take every one. It was a great pity that I could not take my mother along before she passed away in 1989 for she 'saw' this place only in her prayer for my well-being in those days. She surely was dying to see this place, a place she initially scared of, but later felt the sweetness of being a place destined to the making of her son's future.

Needless to say the SAS surrounding had changed very much, beyond recognition to the unconcerned memory. The 'squatters' Kampung Congo in which our cross-country route passed had changed into a metropolitan Bandar Tun Razak. TTTC was intact, but another giant bulding added, the HUKM, serviced by a trunk road, Jalan Tenteram which inevitably modified the address of SAS, along side the newly built Sekolah Menengah Sains Selangor and Sekolah Menengah Teknik.

Rumah Tunku Budriah was in placed, but had been compressed by many other public utilities, especially wider roads and over-bridges. So did the nearby daily Sekolah Menengah Cheras. Number 16 Tong Fong Bus station had disappeared, swallowed by a shopping mall. The bus itself had not been seen ever since I commuted to visit Zidni, probably replaced by Mini Bus, then by Intrakota and Metro Bus which I saw shooting in both directions at a bullet velocity, yet appeared immobilised by the faster cars. Cheras Road itself had swollen to a triple carriage-way from a two-ways single-lane colonial road, splitting into Jalan Pudu and Jalan Loke Yew at a newly built round-about several hundreds meters from the shopping mall.

Edition dated May 2003