Life in Gopeng was fun. After school, if I didn’t plan anything with my schoolmates, I would spend the time climbing from tree to tree. I’d be extra brave come the rambutan or the cashew season. No matter how small the branch was, I’d try my best to tiptoe like an acrobat on a tight rope, carefully to reach that glorious yellow or reddish fruits. When there was nothing else to do, I’d simply grab a machete and started clearing the bushes around my grandfather’s house or I’d grab a scraper and started sweeping all the dry leaves. The house was built close to a buried tin mine, so most of the earth around the house was sandy and white in colour. When I cleared the leaves, it would look like someone just rolled out a very big white mattress. It was a very very beautiful sight indeed. I got the pictures of it in one of my albums in KL.
My mother on seeing me doing all those kampung jobs, would reminisce of the time when her father was still alive and how he was a very hardworking man providing for the family, keeping the house tidied up, planting all those trees and a very silent person and a gentleman. Sometimes she’d make a jug of lemonades and brought out one of the coffee tables and we’d sit underneath the trees, enjoying the breeze, the fruits, and simply taking in the moment as it passed through our lungs, our hearts and our minds.
A year passed by, already I’ve been representing the school in various activities, handball, rounders, religious competitions (tilawah and storytelling!) and I’ve built some wonderful bonds. We’d visit each other during the raya time, chatting as if there was an endless streams of issues ranging from puppy love, x-men, our ambitions, our dreams, what our girlfriends would be like, there was nothing else to worry about.
Standard 6, 1995. I was appointed as one of the prefects. Cool, we had to wear blue blazers. At that time I went to school using a bicycle, with the small basket in front of the handles. Most of the students used that type of bicycle, so we can put our bags in the said basket. Oh my God, I’m literally laughing whilst typing this. Wearing blazers plus riding bicycles with black shoes. Talk about fashion sense!
UPSR was around the corner. I was quite weak in Mathematics. So my mother sent me to a tuition class. The tutor was an old Malay lady, Puan Azizah (a very old and nostalgic name don’t you think?) whose English was awesome. She loved to cook and she’d give out some kuihs or meals at the end of every tuition. A very strict and a loving person. In front of her I was not afraid to reveal what I was weak at. I owed a lot to her. Because of what she taught me, I managed to get all A’s and not afraid of Mathematics anymore.
On the day the result came out, 4 out of 6 of the X-Boys managed to get all A’s. We were overjoyed and felt a bit of pity for the the other 2. We could only comfort them with meaningless words. I forgot what event was going on on that day but I remember vividly that there was a stage already set up and the 4 of us requested to perform a song. It was Untukmu! The KRU’s version! Almost fell out of my chair laughing there. Truth be told, we embarrassed the frogs and its kin, luckily it didn’t rain. My father gave me RM200 as a gift.The world was ours!
When the end of year school holiday started, I would cycle to school everyday, just to check if there was any letters for me. I mean it, literally every day.”Nanti adalah tu offer nak masuk asrama penuh, jangan tinggal sembahyang, doa banyak-banyak”, my mother comforted me. “Pak cik Mokhtar, surat untuk saya ada ke?” my usual line. “Entohle, tengokla dalam office tu”, the school gardener’s typical answer. He was probably bored of it already.
Then one fateful day, just before I could utter the same question, he said, “Hah tu ada surat tu, besor sampulnye”. My heart was palpitating like mad. I ran into the office, grabbed the letter, thanked Pak Cik Mokhtar and sped home. “Ma, wa dapat surat ma!” I yelled just when I arrived at the gates. She opened it. “Sekolah Menengah Sains Pokok Sena, tak pernah dengar pun. Nanti mama call kawan mama kat kementerian”. I read the contents of the mail over and over again. “Tarikh pendaftaran: 7 Januari 1996”. About one and a half to two months to go. I couldn’t remember exactly how long it was till that date . But I was excited and proud. Sekolah Berasrama Penuh. Elite club for the selected.That was the notion that came to my mind.
To be continued…
When I was in Gopeng, KRU was really really really big. All the girls wanted them, and the boys well we wanted to be them.
fun fact: Kampung KRU is in Gopeng and one of the X-Boys is closely related to them. ^_^