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Saturday, October 30, 2010

First Day In School (Part Two)

      Then the Chinese teacher asked us to walk.  Where did she want to take us?

     We walked along the concrete floor with a roof at the top, passing by a few blocks of classrooms.  Not long after that, I smelled the sweet aroma of foods.I looked at the source of the sweet smell.  A lot of boys were were gathered inside a building where the walls were only half-covered.  We were led into this building.  There were rows of marbled tables and benches, each occupied by a few boys noisily enjoying their foods.  Suddenly I felt very hungry.  Seeing the line of Standard One students marching in led by a teacher, the bigger boys stepped aside to make way for us.  We stopped at a long table which was a high as my shoulder, also made of marble.  On top of this long table were piles of foods stacked on trays.  There were curry puffs, fried bananas, 'jempt-jemput pisang' (a kind of cake made of stashed bananas and fried), a lot more food that I have escaped my memory.

     At this end of the counter was a big transparent water container with many plastic glasses of various colours around it.  A chinese man was busy filling the small cups with orange from the container and putting them on the counter.  Soon small hands snatched the cups and shillings worth five sen were put on a plate.  The same happened to the cakes.    Pupils tried to outrun each other in buying their preferred cakes.

     At the far end of the bench were piles of fried noodles on small plates, the golden yellow noodle plus some green vegetables and red chillies on it looked very welcoming.  School children took a plate each, ten sen shillings changed hands.  The scenario at that end triggered my appetite.  I seldom got the chance to eat noodles.  I almost forgot how it tasted.  Maybe it's delicious...

     I fumbled the ten sen in my trouser pocket that I got from dad that morning.  If I bought a plate of fried noodles, what could I drink?  The noodle's hot, I was sure.  I would need a cup.  Therefore, I had to forget the noodles.  At least for now.  If I couldn't get fried noodles, fried bananas was also delicious.

     Little by little, I inched my way towards the tray of fried bananas on the counter, my right hand in front of me.  Eventually I managed to grab a big piece.  I showed my ten sen shilling to the attendant, he took it and returned to me a five sen shilling, together with a small piece of old chinese newspaper to wrap my fried banana with.  Smiling triumphantly, I made my way towards the drink section.

     I devoured my treasure at the marbled table.  That was the most satisfying meal which I had.  Probably that was the first time I experienced buying my own food.  The fried banana was superb!  Not too sweet, just nice.  The glass of orange juice was also nice.

     It seemed like I had been in school for ages.  Err... when could I go back?

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