Got tagged from Kleio da Muse! This one is quite a toughie.
My dad was a retired army at age 44. He opted for early retirement because the army didn’t pay much and he has 3 school-going children to feed. Needless to say, it’s almost impossible to live on government salary.
He decided to try his luck in Kuala Lumpur after my mother pestered him to follow us to Kuala Lumpur for better career opportunity.
I was so reluctant to leave my very much loved friends and my comfort zone – Convent Taiping school. I insisted to go to school with higher or at least equal standards but was disappointed that Convent Sentul was full. I was seconded to Puteri Titiwangsa Girls’ School. I only spent three days there as my parents decided to send me to a school closer to home. That was how I wound up in Selayang Bharu and hated it.
While I was in Puteri Titiwangsa for only three days, I still remember how I terrorized my classmates with all the correct answers to History. I think I gotten only one wrong answer – confusing between Ayuthaya and Ayuthia. I couldn’t remember what the question was. In short, I liked to show off. Haha.
When I was transferred to Selayang Bharu, I was placed in the second last class in Form 2. I didn’t know how I ended up there but apparently, that was the only class with an extra chair and desk. To make my nightmare worse, on my first day in this run-down school, there was a pop quiz on Geography!
I protested. I told the teacher, this was my first day in school. I wasn’t prepared. She reassured me and said, the test was merely to gauge our understanding on the subject. I relented. There was only one section which I totally didn’t know the answer as they were the Form 2 syllabus and I hadn’t even started my Geography in Puteri Titiwangsa, 3 days ago.
The second day in school, I was biting my finger nails waiting for my Geography results. Pn. Zaiton came in the class with a solemn face. She announced that only two out of 40 students passed the test. I feared for the worst. The person who scored the highest – 69% was me! (Without studying) The other girl who passed barely scraped past 40%. From that day onwards, I knew that my expectations on the standard of education was over.
Of Differences and Barriers
I was a little better than Kleio da Muse in terms of communication skills in Mandarin. I wasn’t competent enough in my Mandarin but I got by. My Mandarin night classes when I was in Taiping paid off. But my Cantonese sucked big time. Even till today, my Cantonese is heavily tinged with Hokkien accent. Apart from the embarrassment of pronouncing “Aquarius” in Cantonese – I pronounced it as “Sui Pei Jor” (meaning lousy or inferior) instead of “Sui Peng Jor”, I think my classmates understood me perfectly.
One thing that separated me from the pack was my seriousness. I was pain-in-the-ass- no-nonsense girl in school. Being in the crème de la crème class in school made my classmates and I almost invincible to teachers. I didn’t really get along well with my classmates as they were really ah bengs and ah lians – we had nothing in common to talk about. I was pretty much on my own till a new classmate joined me in Form 5 (Lenny). I hung out with friends from other classes instead. The Monk, Lai Ma, the girl with broom-like hair (SP), the girl with the tiniest waist in school (KF) (23 inches!), the new pretty girl from another school (PK) and Kleio da Muse.
Grades & Studiousness
I was one of the top students in school. Probably I wasn’t very popular with the boys (haha!) due to my horizontally-challenged body, I spent most of my time hitting the books. Sad life, huh?
I hated Additional Math the most. I think I flunked once in one of the monthly tests and was devastated. That was the first and only time I ever flunk a paper in school.
I was quite competent in language subjects – both English and Bahasa Malaysia in which, had posed a problem to my Bahasa Malaysia teacher. I couldn’t remember the bitch’s name. I remembered I was called a cheat when I scored the highest for my Bahasa Malaysia composition paper. The bitch.. errr.. I mean, the teacher demanded to see my hand writing to prove that it was me who took the exams on that particular day. I showed her my exercise books to compare my hand writing and she was still unconvinced.
“Saya masih ada kemusykilan” – her exact words.
To prove that she is “kanalan” (hokkien swear word) for calling me a cheat – I showed her my recent SRP (not PMR – yes, I am THAT old) result for BM. I obtained an A1.
That shut her up completely and the entire class roared with laughter. My classmates applauded me for my bravery to stand up against the tyranny of discrimination in school. Our young minds were polluted to believe that only certain race could excel in that language.
She retaliated by regrading my composition for “kurang isi” and slashed off half of the points. I was fuming. From that day onwards, I never once acknowledged her presence. To me, she was as good as dead. Even my classmates – all three races picketed against her. We never paid attention in her class and our standard answer to her questions was – “Entahlah, Cikgu. Aku tak tau.”
I had my sweet revenge when I scored an A2 in my SPM BM and threw the results in her face.
The Popularity Scale
Like I said earlier, I wasn’t popular. Okay. Probably I was a little popular – the headmaster in school knew me by my name. That was probably because I was the only one who converse with him in English, I wore black instead of white shoes to school and probably the fattest student. How to miss me if I stick out like a Blue Hypo mascot?
Most students in school knew my name but didn’t know who I was. That was because I was in the second last class for Form 2 (the last class was obviously hopeless – teachers never went in the class) and yet, I managed to score the highest marks for Geography, English, Bahasa Malaysia and History. My name was abuzz in school and yet, I kept mostly to myself. Okay. I admit. I was a bloody nerd.
I had gotten myself a place in the first class when I reached Form 3. During assembly on the first day in Form 3 (D Day), I was shoved by my previous Form 2 classmates to go into Form 3A1. I refused. What if I didn’t make the cut? I prefer to hang out with my current classmates and helped or rather let them copied my homework. I was relieved that my name was called in Form 3A1. At least, I was not a “perasan habis” case. Haha! That was how I got to know the Monk.
Being a President in the most prestigious Interact Club had it set backs. I was not a sociable person as I preferred to hit the books than to meet boys from other school. But I had to do it for the sake of my “testimonial” in my school leaving certificate which proved to be an utter bullshit and a waste of time.
Most of my friends – those cute IT girls in school had their fair share of attention from the opposite sex while I was left lurking in the dark. I knew some of the boys befriended me only because I was the President and they wanted to get the phone number of my very sweet and pretty Secretary – Kleio da Muse. Hahahha! My inferiority complex hit critical point.
I ended doing most of the backstage work which did not need much contact – like taking photographs of event, script writing, sending invitation, arranging chairs, prepare for games, etc. I think that was how I picked up my photography skills (ahem!). We did a lot of charity work via Interact Club. It was an eye opener for me. At least it had taught me not to take things for granted.
I was even coerced into being the Vice Secretary of the Chinese Society against my will. I never attended any meetings but still wrote minutes because the Monk, the Secretary of Chinese Society would call me after every meeting to help him translate minutes from Mandarin to Bahasa Malaysia.
I was a reluctant member of the Volley Ball Club. Just throw me the ball and I would smash it and yeah, yeah – please put in my testimonial that I was a member. Thank you very much.
I ended up reluctantly as the editor for English section for our annual school magazine. I think everyone in school hated me because I “vetoed” most of the students’ contribution for the sake of keeping English – ENGLISH. Geez. At that time, the standard of English in school already deteriorated beyond recognition. I ended up composing a few poems and essays – just to fill the space.
I was the reserve in the school debating team (Yes, I didn’t want to join either!) and was selected to represent the school in inter-school Science competition. Oh gawd! Super nerd!
Geez! I didn’t realize I was such a nerd in school! Thanks but no thanks, Kleio da Muse!! Haha! Kidding!
I could rattle on and on but I guess I better stop here before I bore you shitless. Hehehe. Since this is quite a tough (and bloody long winded!) meme, feel free to write if you wish to and inform me when you do so. Well, I had fun reminiscing old times when I did this, I hope you would too.
Other school related posts (or rather characters from school)
A Better Woman
The Lai Ma Terror