The year 1998.
Muzani went to SM BB Bangi Jln 2, registered on Sunday January 4. He picked up fast by getting around with the teachers and most of his SRK friends. The only examination this year was the PTS sat by Alyani, and she got through, so next year she would be given the chance to go straight to Year 5, instead of Year 4.
It was unconcealable that Malini had found out that it was not very difficult at all to achieve very well in the SPM. She proved that by getting straight 10A1, as did two others in her college and fifty others in other places. She was included in the media coverage, especially when her college was chosen by the minister to be his venue for announcing the results. What she had yet to discover was that it is not always advantageous to be that successful, sometimes the not so successful ones wade their life smoother. The bits began since before her SPM, first she had difficulties in setting her own mind on the career she was going into, for her only tangible ambition was to go to overseas university, thus kept focusing on which university she was going to go rather than focusing on what she was going to be. I made a compromise that she could go to either UK, Australia or New Zealand; certainly not the USA or Canada. She had no difficulties in getting call for interviews from most of the premier sponsors like Shell, Petronas, Proton, TNB, Telekom and Esso.
As soon as the SPM was over the first short-listed to ten for final screening, and before 1997 ended she was one of the three the sponsor decided to pick, and issued the offer. The arrangement was that she would go to KTJ, Mantin for her A-Level in January, then to UK in September next year. Other sponsors had yet to go for final screening. Under her condition of pressure, she accepted the offer, signed the agreement and we sent her to KTJ on January 5. I met the KTJ Principle on the day, Mr Briggs, happened to be a Mancunian too, and from Chorlton, what a coincidence. Before January ended I had to keep on getting in touch with her Jawahir House Mistress, Puan Norsham, either to give her documents, or to take documents from her, or to take her out for interviews. By the time TNB offered her for a year at KMYS Bukit Beruntung, then to UK, we had owed the sponsor about 30 kRM which we could not affort if she want to switch to TNB. The offer from Petronas dan Telekom were without any word about going to UK. Esso was sponsoring to the USA only. So she stayed in peace in KTJ.
The economic decelaration had began to take its toll, many sponsors decided to stop sending students to overseas. We had no ways to tell or even to guess what was her sponsor's stand on this economic 'gawat', but she made applications to several universities in UK in June, as adviced by the sponsor, sat for her GP and Single Math in July after finishing her Lower Six, and before Ramadan started on December 20 she was accepted provisionally in all the U's she applied, including Cambridge's Newnham College, and on December 30 while on third term vacation, she was summoned to her sponsor HQ in KL to be told that like an earth quake her sponsor would not honour the promise of sending her, and two others, to UK, instead she was told to apply to 'Local Oversea' universities. I saw how Malini was spiritually, emotionally and psychologically shattered into a million pieces, and is especially true since it is in a time only a step away and a few months away to a Cambridge College. To describe seeing how Malini was so frustrated, so down feeling, is like to see a little girl's emotional cry when her beautiful sand-castle on the beach being smashed to flat, ironically not by the wave but by her own father's deliberate stepping. I had not experienced before in my daughter's eighteen years of life that she was so down, sad, unhappy, depressed, dispirited, almost soul-less in swallowing the fact that the sponsor is going to dishonour its ever since long respected honourable promise, and the hardest thing is that it happen to her. When we returned her to KTJ in January 3, 1999 for her final leg, she was spiritless, added to Ramadan fasting, she suffered stress-attributed syndrome which caused her body to reject the food. We took her back home for resuscitation. With the bless of God she just made it, just in time for Aidil Fitri on January 19, 1999.
Last year I met Mohd Embong in SAS, for he had a son, then in Form One. The last time I saw him was in 1977. And I almost met Omar in one of the coffee shop in Chow Kit, also last year. They were two of the pack-of-ten in 1966. I met the former very often since then and thus menaged to relocate the latter, since both of them actually were in constant touch with each other. These added into my recollection of the good-old-days. I tried to probe the nerve of these old acquaintances, and, blessed by God they were unchanged, as good as it was, and in fact merrier by the number of family members. We then visited each others very often. With more information available I tried to push to other old-mates. We found Abdullah Yusuf and his wife Zaharah in their orchard in Dengkil on July 5. By then I had already added the information about Othman Ngah, the Agricultur Director of Kelantan, and Othman Ali who worked in Kelang. On my routine visit to Chito-Chem factory in Parit Buntar, I searched for another one, Abdullah Embong, and I got him, in his home in Sungai Ara, Penang on September 7, then a Deputy Dean in USM. The last time I saw him was in 1979 in Section 17 PJ, then a Ministry of Education officer. Not least to mention was Shafie Mohamad who I actually met as long ago as in late 1983 in Bangi. He actually the one who recognised me, it was not possible for me to recognised him since his 'facial attire' had changed completely since I last met him in 1968, beyond recognition. He reminded me of his elder brother who took care of him in those school days down to acompanying him along to SAS in late January 1967. Along the time in Bangi, one of his sons used to be a friend of my son Muzani, and used to come to play in my house on which occasion I showed him the 1966 picture when his father was 15 years old.
On July 7, I got in touch with the person very dear in my final school days, who I missed very much, with whom I last saw each other on Saturday July 25, 1970, whose words I last received on December 6, 1970 and whose voice I last heard on September 25, 1971. Alas, via e-mail and after passing through different phases of life in nearly thirty years in our own biosphere, it takes more than just a wit to have the noble courage of forgiving the past in perceiving that it is even sweeter than to forget.
My next PhD student, Arlius, who I co-supervised with Prof Salam had his viva on August 27 and went through for the degree conferement in July or August next year.
Edition dated Jan 1999