Blessed all along (part 3.0 a)

“Oh kawan mama cakap, tu sekolah baru. Nanti kamu jadi pioneer”, my mother told me one day when she came back from school. “Pioneer?” the word was quite new to me. “Perintis la maknanya, macam peneroka”.

7th Jan 1996 was still far away. My mother wanted me to go to the nearest school first whilst we waited for the date. My ego was way over my head. Rasa nak tampar bila ingat balik. So I spent 1 month in a sekolah menengah biasa. There was one event which I remembered the most. I attended one of the sport houses meeting and they were selecting athletes for various sports to represent each house. I put up my hand for basketball and the Chinese who attended the meeting laughed at me. “Macam bola baling kan? Cuma goal dia kat atas” I responded. “Melayu tau main bola keranjang kah?” asked a Chinese senior. “I can learn”, I replied. With that, they put my name in together with the basketball team. But I didn’t represent them in any sports because I left for Saina before the Sports Day. A cute Chinese girl gave me a Christmas greeting card after the meeting. “I don’t really celebrate Christmas, but thanks!” And she ran. Malu-malu. Awww.

7th Jan 1996

Form 1, Saina, Pokok Sena, Kedah. Long lines of cars formed from the entrance up to the male students hostel, we called it Aspura. The school was big, barren and new and big and I felt awkward. My mind reeled back to the time when my mother and I wanted to have our first look at the school before deciding yes or no. “OOOO, nak pi Pokok Sena ka? Hang teghuih, lepaih tu, hang jumpak simpang empat, hang tikam kighi” and so on and on the guy in Alor Setar went to give us the direction to Pokok Sena. The language was so alien. With the extra twang and all. I was intimidated. “Ma, bahasa Kedah macam kasar sikit kan?” I asked my mother. “Biasa lah, kamu masuk kandang kambing mengembek, masuk kandang rimau, mengaum. Hormat local punya adat, norms. Jangan buat kepala kamu je”. She answered. More than what I asked and what I wanted to hear. Mothers 😛 ❤ .

I was looking forward to meeting new friends. The curiosity to experience life without the supervision of the elderly was exhilarating. Plus, the beds, the toilets, the sports facilities looked very very new and welcoming. The stories of how bad hostel life and facilities could be flew away. “Kita adalah oghang pertama yang isi tangki najis kat sini” said I in a feeble attempt to sound like a Kedahan to my bunkmate, Malik, a cute boy from Langkawi. He just laughed Note: I’m not gay and I do not swing the other way. He was cute. I appreciate beauty as it is.

Before my mother left she kept repeating her warning not to cause any troubles or else she’d pull me out and send me back to the biasa school. “Kalau ada apa-apa, call, kamu jangan senyap je” one of the lines that she repeated over and over again. “Ye la ma, wa tau la jaga diri”, I tried to comfort her. I was happy to experience life alone, but as she drove further and further away, I realised how vulnerable I felt. I looked around. The rubber plantation surrounding the school enhanced the isolating sensation that grew from the inside as if it was forming a cocoon around me as I walked up to my dorm, B11.

“Aku Anwar Yasser bin Zulkifli, panggil aku Anwar”. “Oh aku Naset”, said a thin guy. “Huh?” I questioned him. “Oh Nasir, orang mane?”. “Aloq Jangguih”.

“Weh, ghopa hang macam kawan aku kat Bohoq (Bohor). Aku nak panggil hang Bohoq la”, said Allahyarham Basil Basir (Al-Fatihah) to me. “Tak sedap la, pikiak la nama lain, tak pun panggil aku Anwar ja”, was my reply. “Haha tak kigha, la ni kami panggil hang Bohoq!”. And the introduction went on from bed to bed, and from dorm to dorm. Initially there were only form 1 students. We were kings and queens for 2 weeks, then came the form 4 students.

Like other normal boys, we were very very interested in knowing the girls who enrolled on that day. “Weh tu dia, cun gila, putih habaq hang” said a friend to me and I nodded, tersengih-sengih whilst trying to click with the dialect still.

I can’t remember much what happened during the 1 week orientation process. But the most boring time was the evening time, we got all the courts, the fields, but we had no equipments, no net, no balls, no sticks. Nada. Plus the field was swarming with Semalu. Somebody started to write a novel and began distributing it around, and at the end of the novel there would be a few pages for opinions and comments. A trend is a trend or in this case, was. All of a sudden everybody came up with their own novels, with illustrated cover and all that jazz. Even I got involved, haha. “Novel ni terlalu pendek, tapi terlalu panjang untuk dipanggil cerpen, maka patut panggil cerpan”, was one of the comments that I read. Heh kids.  Can’t remember for whose novel though.

So instead of playing in the fields during the evening, you would see a lot of students sitting by the drains, near the surau, under the trees, on the stairs, on their beds, busy trying to impress each other with our ideas or stories. I wrote one stupid, idiotic, slapstic, pathetic,  funny-ish and science-fiction-ish story. I don’t recall the exact storyline, but it contained the mentioned elements >_> .

2 weeks passed. News of the coming of the form 4 students was verified by the warden. “Minggu depang kita akang dapat pelajar tingkatan–g (subtle g) 4”, said Encik Pajuzi, our first warden, from Terengganu obviously. We were curious. We had heard of the ragging tradition done by seniors on their juniors. But we were the younger ones in this case. What would happen? Jeng jeng jeng…

I was a World of Warcraft junkie. Man, that game can steal your life, strips you off your ambition if you aren’t careful or disciplined enough. I’d spend hours on end playing this game. But I met a lot of great people from all over the world and it was a learning experience as I’ve learned how to look at an issue from various point of views. I’ve met engineers, artists, hobo-ish, teens, fathers, mothers, spinsters, old people, Aussies, Black, Chinese, Indians, Spanish, Thais, Americans, Canadians, Arabs, Malay (haha) my my now that I think of it, this was one of the points when I really started to seriously communicate in English (verbally, because we would use mics to coordinate our characters movement, strategy etc). If your will is weak, stay away from this game. I mean it.

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