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Sunday, October 24, 2010

First Day In School (Part One)

     In the 60s.  I was so small, only past my 'toddler' period.  As I was lying in dad's lap watching mom seated on the wooden floor near the steps going down into the kitchen, feeding little sister with mashed rice mixed with a little sugar.  From time to time she would let the baby suck her wet fingers which she had dipped into a bowl of plain water.

     Moving his lap up and down, dad asked, "Which school would you like to go, malay or english?"

     Without thinking, I answered, "English!"

     That was it.  After I was six years old, dad brought me on his Vespa scooter to a school in town, about six miles away from our dear house.  The school was 'Ismail School Two'.  The school was very big, the buildings very tall, the top part seemed as if staring down at me, ready to devour me.  I became a little frightened and uncomfortable.  That made me keep as close to dad as possible while we made our way among the crowd.  I looked around.  All were new faces, there was not even one face that looked familiar to me.

     When the registration was over, I was placed in a big room 'Standard One Suloh' with some boys.  I scanned their faces one by one.  There were some malay boys just like me, some fair chinese boys who had small eyes, a few Indians, a European (later I learned that his name was Michael George) and a tall, fair boy with long hair kept in a piece of white cloth shaped into an 'apple' on top of his head which later I got to know that this was a sikh or 'Mister Singh'.  A Chinese lady teacher wearing chinese clothes (cheongsam) was seated at a table bigger than ours, busy writing something.  We looked at each other silently and waited.  So long...

     Soon, a bell started to ring; a long ringing sound coming from outside the classroom, deafening me.  The lady teacher asked all of us to stand.  "Small boys in front, big boys at the back, two by two", she said.  I could not comprehend what she said, likewise the rest of the boys.  Therefore she had to arrange all of us to line two by two, by dragging the small boys towards the front of the line and the big ones to the back. 

     "Hold your partners' hands", she barked her orders.  I looked around me, but could not find dad.  Where was he?

     Then the chinese teacher instructed us to walk.  Where would he bring us to?

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