This is a collection of stories and old photos of me, friends, teachers and events during my secondary school years (1975-79) at SMS Kelantan, which is now known as Sek Men Sains Tengku Muhammad Faris Putra.
The school itself was started in 1973, and moved to the new campus in 1974 (you'll see grassless field in some pix!)
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Monday, November 23, 2009
The MCE Exam Time
Exactly 30 years ago, I was struggling with my MCE examinations, which is now known as SPM. I've written a bit about it here: http://mama.nuraina.com/?p=4119
I can't remember when we actually started the tradition/celebration. I am not sure either if they still practice it, but I very much doubt they do.
The year was 1977, or 1978. The students decided to celebrate "labour Day" or now it's known as "Workers' Day" in a very special way. Labour Day, have been celebrated on 1st May every year.
I really can't remember who initiated it, but the students decided to give most non-academic school staff a break on that Labour Day. In those days, the dining hall helpers were all government staff (not like now where the food catering is outsourced to contractors). The cleaning ladies, gardeners are government staff too. The only workers that we didn't get to "give a break" were the security guargd! The school management didn't think it was a good idea for the students to replace the guards, for obvious reasons!
So, the student leaders drafted a roster for that Labour day. We had students assigned to clean the trays (we ate in compartmented trays), clean the dining tables, cook, clean the school compound, clear the garbage, etc...
I remember pretty well about the cooking in the kitchen. We had different groups to cook breakfast, prepare for morning tea, cook lunch, prepare afternoon tea, and cook dinner. I was in the kitchen quite a few times. Puan Faezah, the Food Steward was there to help us. A couple of workers also were there to instruct us on how to cut the vegetables, onions, chillies, chicken, and cook rice using the kawah! It was a huge job, cooking for 700+ students.
After finishing our turn (of cooking, cleaning, or laying the tables for meals, etc..), we would head back to the hostel feeling exhausted! Pushing the huge trolley of curry and vegetables, and putting the food in each individual tray was quite a task!
Boiling water, and making tea; opening so many cans of condensed milk, stirring the drinks in the huge pots, then put them in huge kettles and distribute them to the tables; washing the trays, pots, pants, etc... it was too much a job for students to handle!
So, the Labour Day that day was quite a tiring day for most of us, as most of us were assigned in the kitchen for at least one meal. It was fun too!
I think the workers appreciated us, because they had a break that day. What was more important was that from that day onwards, less students complainted about the food quality or any dissatisfaction towards the kitchen staff, because by then they knew how hard it was to prepare meal and do the cleaning. We could hardly handle a meal, what more with the workers who had to prepare 5 meals each day for us! In short, the students became more grateful.
One of the regular problems in school then was the water supply. The water tanks on top of the hostel blocks (inside the ceiling) were obviously not enough to cater for the "peak hours" of the bathrooms every morning and evening. I guess the water pressure was not strong enough to refill these tanks during those peak hours. During these periods, only the third floor (top-most) and the ground floor bathrooms would have flowing taps! We from the other floors had to go to one of these bathrooms. Can you imagine the crowd?
I remember that to ensure that I got enough & satisfying shower, I had to get up as early as 5am, to be among the first to utilise the bathroom. I also remember how later on we used to reserve water in our covered pails before we went to bed, so that when we got up we had some water for our perusal. Sometimes, we woke up to find our water reduced. Yes, there were "water thieves"! I know of some girls who were too lazy to "reserve water" the night before, and when they woke up to find a long queue in the bathrooms, they would simply "kebas" (took without permission) ours.
To make things worse, there were times when there was no water at all! During these times, we just had to "lompat pagar" (got our of the school compound) to get water from the wells of the nearby neighbourhood. The local people there then were very sympathetic towards us and were very nice :) . Here's a pic of some of the girls getting water from one of the wells:
And these girls had the time to take photo? But that time they were not taking water for shower. I wonder for what?
I remember there were a couple of times when I actually went with some friends to the girls toilet in the classroom block for my morning shower!
Eventually the school decided to dig our own wells in our hostel compounds! So the boys got a well, and the girls got one too. Since then, we didn't have to go out for water, and the bathrooms were not too crowded anymore, because many of us simply went down to the well for our morning showers! As a girl who grew up with well water, I really enjoyed it then. During peak hours it was like a "party" of shower. Girls would berkemban (folding sarongs to our breasts) and took shower together, fun, fun!
I do not have any pic of the well or near the well. How I wish there are some friends who actually possess some of these pix, and wouldn't mind sharing them with me. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to send me the pic.
Recently I had the opportunity to enter the girls' hostel compound, and sad to say the water well is no longer there... :(
I didn't know what society/club to join when I was in Form 1, being my first year in the school. Since I played a bit of the recorder when I was in primary school (and I love singing), I thought joining the Music Club was just appropriate. From the pix, I gathered that my other female classmates (Nury, Ita, Jenny, Puyah & Aloyah) joined in too.
1975 & 1976 were the best years, as far as the Music Club was concerned. There was no "dakwah" yet. At the end of the term we always had some "show" in the Main Hall, so I supposed the weekly activities were to prepare for that night.
One of the nights was called "Malam Musika" (Musical Night), as can be seen from the "hanging golden letters" in the pic below: There was another ocassion when it was called "Musical Night". I think there was one that was called "Musical Evening". The end-of-term show was something that most of us looked forward to :) .
During these shows, some of the talented ones, like our own Ita would sing some "latest hits" songs. There were a few regulars whose singing we enjoyed (including Ita). Some teachers also took the opprtunity to sing too. I remember Cikgu Bahar sang "I Started A Joke" and Cikgu Ku Jit sang "Bridge Over Trouble Water".
Only a few years ago, a senior, Pakda, told me that for one of the shows (I think it was in 1975), it was the band "Carefree" that came to acompany our singers! Oh, yes, we had live bands! Carefree was still not known yet then. They became a hit only in 1979 with the legendary Rindu Bayangan!
For the "Malam Musika" above (1975), we, the form 1 girls had to put up fancy dress show. Since I had long hair, I was asked to be the evil witch. Aloyah was dressed as a bride:
Can you see me holding a broom? Hahaha!! Mek Rock dresses up as a tennis player, while Nury was dressed as a school girl (right?). The MC for the night, who can be seen interviewing Aloyah above, is now a dental surgeon!
now, apart from the talent show, thr Music Club also had parties at the end of each term (we used to have 3 terms in those days). The first one was this one, where the available pix are all in black and white. The menu was so simple - sardine sandwiches, some cordial drinks and peanuts. I don't remember us having fruits, though we might probably had some.
We played games like the musical chairs. I don't think the following pic was taken during the musical chair game, but we certainly had fun there. If you look closely, you can see that there were THREE persons sitting on one chair - Ita, being the smallest, tried to sit on Aloyah's lap. Aloyah was actually sitting on mine! Aloyah was in yellow, while the checkered skirt is Oji's! This pic was taken during the party that we had in the main hall, after which we had the group photo (top of this page) taken. The above group photo will show the face of the person who wore the checkered skirt!
There was another party that we had in a classroom: Can you see the plates? They wwere all empty! Not much serving anyway..
During this party, we however had some fun:
Balloon dance?: Wow! I bet you can't have that now, can you?? For the dance, it had to be a boy and girl couple! I remember I did not do it. I just sat and watch others went for it:
In the above pic, it's the dental surgeon again, who happened to be sitting next to me.
We certainly knew how to have fun!
Maybe I should blog separately about end of term parties? We used to have those too, and we even wrapped the harmless florescent lamps with coloured crepe paper to get the "night club" effect! It was a trend then, until Ustaz (the Head warden) came to scold us, and asked us to unwrap the lights, because our hostel began to look like a night club from outside, and thr public were not happy, I bet! Hahaha!!!
On the other hand, maybe I shouldn't because I don't have any pic to show (though some of my friends still do). In the dormitories, it was an ALL GIRLS event, so anything goes! Some had their parties with home-made "bare-back" (tie and fold) dresses, sexy nighties, etc... :-)
One of the highlights of the beginning of the academic year (in early January) would be the general meetings of clus and societies. In those days, joining clubs and societies was optional. Yes, there were those who didn't join any club/society at all. In those days, extra-curricular activities were not that paramount to getting a place in the higher learning institution nor the scholarship, even though it helped if we are in some clubs/societies, to show that we are not bookworms, maybe? And maybe to show that we have leadership ability/experience...
We used to join the clubs/societies purely based on our interests. I really didn't know what my interest was, except that I enjoyed needlecraft(still do) and cooking (not that much, anymore). Like many friends, I joined the most popular clubs/societies, :) .
These are the most popular ones:
The History & Geography Society (Persatuan Ilmu alam & Sejarah) This society was popular because their main activities were excursions. Who wouldn't want to join a trip to Kuala Lumpur? The trip then was not as direct as today. There was no Gua Musang-Lipis highway, so the trip had to go through Kuala Terengganu and Kuantan before heading towards Kuala Lumpur. If we were to leave the school after school on Thursday (being the last schooling day of the week), we will only arrive in Kuala Lumpur the following morning! That's a good 16 - 18 hours. I remember we used to have dinner in Kuala Terengganu (we left school at about 2 or 3pm), then a late supper in Kuantan, and will have our breakfast in Kuala Lumpur.By the way, that was not a trip organised by this society.
I joined this society when I was in Form 1, but gave up the following year because the membership was too big, and obviously the seniors would get priority over juniors like us.
The Cinema Club This was a mainly boys' society. The members of the society learnt to handle cinema projectors, and set them up for our weekly movie show on Friday nights. We used to have a movie show (real movie reels! Some were delivered all the way from Kuala Lumpur). The committee members had the privilege of liaising with an agent in Kota Bharu to get the supply of movie reels. When there was a movie a week, it was mainly lousy old movies. Later the club decided to reduce the frequency of the show to fortnightly, and we got good movies. Normally during the day, there would be announcements as well as some posters put up at strategic places in the school compound to remind us of the show. Sometimes it was by word of mouth.
I was not very much into movies, and was quite selective on the movies that I watched. I remember at one stage there were romantic movies, at another stage it was mainly kung-fu movies (I came to know Bruce Lee then!) and later it was into horror movies.
Let's see if I can still remember the movies that I watched then:
Old Turkey Buzzard
The Sound of Music
Fist of Fury
Way to the Dragon (Bruce Lee)
Enter the Dragon
The Fearless Vampire Killers (I had sleepless nights after that!)
Bridge on River Kwai
The Chess Club I always saw this one as a "elite" club because most of the members are the quiet and studious ones. Our first best student for MCE was a committee member (at least, if not in the top 3 posts) of this club. I was good in checkers but was (and still am) with chess!
The other "glamorous" club would be the music club, which I have decided to have a posting of its own.
Mahisham was my classmate from Form 1 until Form 5. Our class was a close-knit one. At times we were the envy of other classes, because the few girls were very close to most (if not all) the boys. When we had cooking lessons, we always gave the boys some of the food, and Mahisham was one of the regular ones to remind us to spare the food for him/them :-) .
Mahisham was one of the more talkative, cheerful, jovial, and active boys. He played soccer and hockey for the school all the way to the state level.
I was reminded by Nury that he was also one of the school runners. Not wonder he knew my primary school friend, the late YI.
Mahisham was also an active scout. His dad, the late Cikgu Mood (who was a state netball coach for MSSK) was also a king scout. I remember when the scouts went to (I think it was the 1st) Malaysian Scout Jamboree at Petrajaya, Kuching, Mahisham (plus a few other schoolmates, including Ahmad Hilmy of AHA) and dad were in the Kelantan contingent.
I met them at the Johor Bahru Railway station on their way back (the took one of TLDM's ship to go to Kuching) to Kota Bharu when I was also on the way back to school. So, a few of us actually bunked in with them - they got a special coach. When Cikgu Mood found out that I was Mahisham's classmate, he gave me one of the rattan bangles that he bought there :-).
After we left school, I didn't meet Mahisham until 2004. I visited him in school (SK Zainab 3), and he took me to meet his school head mistress. The school later became one of the premier Cluster schools (for primary category) in Kelantan.
We lost touch again, until only recently when I managed to get hold of his contact number again. As blogged in my other blog, he told me about his effort to write an English book, as well as his intention to pursue his PhD.
Later after his demise, I found out from other friends that Mahisham had been helping the rural students in their English. He even dedicated part of his salary for that purpose!
I also found out from his former students blogs here, here and here that he was a very dedicated teacher and very much loved by his students.
While in school I was never interested to have any "abang/kakak/adik angkat" even though it was quite a trend then.
However when I was in Form 2 (and Zul in form 1), Cikgu Mat Noor, a warden then, asked me to keep an eye on Zul while I was on duty minding his class for night prep. The reason was Zul was diagnosed with "hole-in-the-heart" problem, and was very susceptible to infection.
Despite his illness, Zul was a very chirpy boy. He liked to ask a lot of questions, and eventually we became "adik & kakak angkat". I used to send him some of the food that we cooked during Home Science cooking classes, or even if I went to town, I'd buy some food for him (if I had extra cash, of course).
In 1978, Zul had to go to St Vincent Hospital, Sydney for a heart surgery. He missed classes for a few months. Despite that, he actually managed to score 10 aggregates in in SRP (similar to PMR). That was a great chievement in those days, even for healthy & ordinary students.
We had a page about him (from newspaper cuttings) in our school magazine that year, SEMASA 1978:
I think SEMASA 1979 had my interview with him after he came back and got good grades, but I've lost the magazine :-( .
We eventually lost touch when I left school at the end of 1979. I think I did send him a letter or two while I was in Australia, but we just lost touch. Maybe it was due the fact that boys don't like to write letters, because I don't remembe receiving any reply from him. Later I heard that he went to the States to do his degree.
I remember when I was already back in Malaysia (in the 1980s) I read in the newspaper about his sister (a celebrity then) saying that she was going to the States to visit her brother who was not well, I knew that she meant Zul. I never knew what happened next, but I guessed everything was fine.
Finally, we both managed to trace each other at the end of last year (thanks to Yahoo! e-group), and spoke over the phone. Since it was about Deepavali time, and with X-mas and New Year, we never got to meet. I knew from others and eventually confirmed by him that he was working with Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) We were planning to meet up some time this year, but the news I got today of his passing shattered that plan.
My memory of Zul is the young boy I knew. I guess it's going to remain so. I blogged about the school Coop here, with Zul's pic there.
Update: Please visit here for some pix at the cemetery today (12th March 2009).
I decided to quit my fulltime teaching job in Aug 2005, after almost 20 yrs.
Now I do free-lance teaching, as well as enjoying my hobbies (reading, sewing, needlework, travelling and a bit of cooking).