After several light-hearted posts, I am going to resume the life story of one little Borneo girl. Sitting here at my office, fingers on my keyboard, my mind is blank. I closed my eyes, I am reflecting back to the years when I was ……….. in school. Oh, right, this post will be a reflection of my school days and since I finally opened up my autobiography and shared it with all my friends on facebook, many of whom were my old classmates of donkey years, I hope this post will bring back good memories to all of us.
To all ex-Marians of 1969 – 1979, this post is for you.
To my other worldwide fellow bloggers, for an insight of the classroom of a Borneo schoolgirl in the 70s, please read on, otherwise, you may give this a miss and watch out this SPACE for more upcoming topics of interests and other varieties in the pipeline.
1969 – Primary One (Yellow)
I did not know a soul but some friends knew each other because you came from St Mary’s Kindergarten. I guess I settled in well. We had a dental office in school and whenever a classmate came in with a card, we prayed our name won’t be called.
1970 – Primary Two (Red)
There was school canteen in school but I hardly ever go to the canteen as it was a mad rush house. I was a girly kid then, was not a tom boy (although I am now, wearing pants and hardly ever wear dresses). Since I stayed in class during most lunch breaks, I was Mrs Teacher’s ‘handygirl’. She would ask me to go to the canteen to buy her some ‘Pisang Goreng’ (Kin Cheo Kueh or banana fritters). I hated that task because it meant I had to push my way stretching my hand with 10 cents on my palm trying to buy two pieces of Pisang Goreng. One break time I got pushed over and dropped those Pisang Goreng. I did not have any spare 10 cents to buy fresh ones so I picked up those Pisang Goreng from the ground and handed them over to Mrs Teacher. No one knew about this except a classmate who went with me to the canteen that day and witnessed this episode though her lips were sealed and I knew it !
1971 – Primary Three (Blue)
I have good memories of this school year and our class teacher that year was my favourite teacher. She was nice in a motherly way. My friend and me must have been big chatterboxes as I remembered clearly Mrs Teacher cellotaped our mouth for talking in class. This friend of mine had an infectious laugh and she would turn all red and pretty after laughing hence I guess that was why we chatted and laughed a lot. Talking about roots, I found out that this friend was my distant relative through the marriage of my late 2nd Uncle and his late wife and that root extended to two of my other classmates as well. If my aunt (godmother) was alive today, she would be very pleased I remembered her relatives. This is what we called in Hokkien ‘Huan Choo Teen’ or ‘Huan Choo Kin’ (Tapioca / Cassava Roots). With this root sytem any friend could possibly be a relative. Being Malaysians living overseas, any fellow Malaysians are ‘Ka Ki Lang’ (own people) after all.
1972 – Primary 4A
One English essay class, Mrs Teacher thought my mother was a nurse just because I drew a picture of a woman wearing a white dress. In those days, not many people had a house phone and I was the lucky few and I remembered a friend and myself used to call each other whenever we needed help with our homework.
1973 – Primary 5A
Our class teacher passed away. She was with us for only one term and Cikgu, the male Malay teacher with curly hair took over. Being amongst the taller girls I sat at back of the class. That was the year I started corresponding and writing to overseas pen pals was one of my hobbies.
1974 – Primary 6A
Our teacher was a very pretty lady. Our school was a mission school and we held school assembly every mondays with bible reading and singing a hym. We often have class events where we proudly have our dancers dancing the ngajat, an Iban indigenious dance traditonally performed by warriors on their return from battles.
NOW LET ME TAKE YOU TO OUR SECONDARY SCHOOL
1975 – Form 1M
The majority of students were from St Mary’s Primary and there were other students from various schools that joined us. I was blessed we had so many old friends that came to this secondary school with us.
This is our secondary school though it had been renovated and so different from what I remembered.
1976 – Form 2M
I cannot recall much this year. Perhaps it was the year of Mills & Boons and our one romantic friend read each and every book. I was not a Mills & Boon fan, more a Barbara Cartland. I went to Inter School Christian fellowship with a group of friends and then one good friend migrated with her whole family to Vancouver. We also had such fun going for Hari Raya visits and feasting on all the yummy kuihs (malay cakes) year after year.
Hari Raya visit – Courtesy of trekearth.com –
1977 – Form 3M
I remembered our sewing teacher. She was very strict and hardly smile but inside her she was kind and she had taught us well. I remembered a funny incident that in her lessons one day, one classmate yawned and she threw a chalk aimed for her wide opened mouth. We were real mischievous that year and I remembered bringing some sticky plant seeds from home and everyone had great fun throwing those seeds on our Maths male teacher while he wrote formulas on the blackboard. And was it this year that we had a training teacher from BLTC (Batu Lintang Teachers College) who became my friend and we wrote letters to each other while she went overseas to England for further education and had it not been for facebook, I would have lost contact with this teacher friend of mine. I was good friend with two others that year we called ourselves the Three Musketeers. We were behind the scenes writing our school play ‘Beauty & the Beast’. The photo below said it was the year 1979 but I was pretty sure that was in year 1977 though I could have remembered wrongly.
– courtesy of St Mary’s School facebook page –
1978 – Form 4G
That was the year of streaming into Arts or Science. I was selected for the Science Stream but I had this huge fear of snails and the thought of touching a snail and worst still having to dissect it was killing me so the first thing I did when school reopened was to appeal to the Principal to please let me be in the General Science stream to save me from touching and dissecting a snail. There also another friend who applied to be moved to the General Science stream so I was not alone but of course her reason would definitely not be for the sake of a snail ! My buddies then were my swimming gang. After each swim (part of the extra curricular activities) we would adjourn to the 7 chan lau (KMC 7-storey flats) hawker stalls for our favourite Belacan Beehoon, Cha Kueh Tiaw (fried flat noodles with bean sprouts) or Fish Ball soup. It only cost 70cts or $1 a plate and 50cts for a ‘kosong’ (noodles only without egg or other condiments).
1979 – Form 5G
This was the big exam year and the last year in St Mary’s. After this year, many of us would part and go overseas or continue locally to St Thomas for lower and upper 6. St Thomas was and still is an all boys school but when at 6 form, it was co-ed to accommodate the Marians, their sister school, both Anglican schools sharing one church, the St Thomas’ Cathedral where I was married. I remembered we were into home dancing parties then and a friend had kindly opened her home to host such parties for us. My aunt would be waiting for up for me to return home and going home time for me was 10pm when the night had only begun.
– Courtesy of Photobucket –
1980 – Form 6Arts1
I reluctantly entered Lower Six (at St Thomas). Although I chose to stay home to be with my 2 ko (2nd aunt), in my heart, I wished I had the opportunity to study abroad for that life time experience and freedom of living independently away from the family. A girlfriend and myself were volunteers to run the school co-op stall. One day, both of us together with two other boys were about to ‘lepak’ (loitering) and we were walking towards the friend’s car but were caught by a teacher. Well, not four of us as the girls were smarter as we then diverted to the co-op stall and only the two boys were caught and suspended a couple of days from school. During Economics class which bored me to death, I would only half listen and looked out the window with full view of the reservoir park hoping to catch some love birds in action (smooching that is). After form six, many friends left for overseas while others went into the workforce and eventually got married and became young mothers. I was among the early ones and a good buddy of mine too and she became a full time mum which was a great thing to do, especially in those days.
St Thomas Secondary School
Today, being a ‘Tai Tai’ or full time mum is an ‘occupation’ and especially in New Zealand, when asked ‘what is your occupation?’ besides being ‘full time mum’ as an occupation, many would say ‘benefit’. While one is honorable, and I salute full time mum, my friend being the living example but the other to me is a rip off in the whole government system. That topic itself calls for another separate post. I side tracked a little here and the below image sums up what I mean about ‘benefit’ being an occupation or a job to some. I am proud to say that this ‘trend’ has not caught up in Malaysia and hopefully never will be.
Now back to our topic, I would like to add that from my personal experience, I found that friendship created from young were the strongest, toughest and most lasting of all. Having grown up together, we bore a strong bond as was evident when I met an old schoolmate of mine couple of years ago while I was living for a short time in Perth, the connection was strong even though we had not contacted each other since we left school.
Wow, I cannot believe I am still on this post from this morning to past midnight so time to publish it for the reading pleasure of all my ex Marian friends. I am getting very sleepy and tired now, recollecting 11 years memories in 14 hours.
Wishing all my friends ‘Happy Reading and good memories’.
PS This article is one Marian’s viewpoint of her self reflections of the past. Although I would love to mention the names of my friends and teachers, I understand many may not be comfortable. I want you all to know that I treasured our friendship and remembered all of you with love and kind intention and does in no way wish to offend anyone intentionally if there may be any inclination of such nature.