Saturday, August 30, 2008

Of Frog and First Love

Two years ago when that venerable institution, Malay College Kuala Kangsar, celebrated its centenary with much pomp and pageantry, its sister school Sekolah Tun Fatimah (STF), like the middle-aged makcik (auntie) it has become, had a rather subdued 50th birthday.

Then again, the premier all-girls boarding school located in Johor Bahru has never been one given to much revelry or flamboyance. In other words, STF pretty much reflects the background of the majority of its population; bright-eyed rural girls from small towns and villages, just grateful for the privilege of being among the chosen few.

STF is a place I hold dear in my heart, for it was here that I was exposed to boarding school life. It was in STF that I humbly learned I wasn't so exceptional after all. There were hundreds of clever, intelligent girls out there and they could (and did) outpace me by a mile, academically or otherwise.

STF was established in 1956 with the original aim of creating a generation of school teachers for a young nation. It is thus very apt that STF's first moniker was Sekolah Menengah Perempuan Melayu, whose first home was in Durian Daun, Melaka.

In fact, during those pre-JB years, students were almost always absorbed into Maktab Perguruan Perempuan Melayu (Malay Women Teachers' College) post-LCE (PMR-equivalent, these days) to become teachers.

In 1958 the school was renamed Sekolah Tun Fatimah, after the heroic female warrior of the Melaka Sultanate era, and in 1962 it was moved to Larkin, Johor Bahru, where it remains until today.

STF is part of the Education Ministry's elite group of single-sex fully residential schools; its peers being Kolej Melayu Kuala Kangsar (Perak), Kolej Tunku Khurshiah (Seremban), Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman (Ipoh), Sekolah Dato' Abdul Razak (Seremban), Sekolah Sri Puteri (KL) and Sekolah Alam Shah (Selangor).

With students pre-selected based on academic excellence, over the years STF, along with its peers, have always been under constant pressure to deliver the best in terms of not only academic achievement but also in extra-curricular activities.

For me, STF was existing with some 400 girls from the ages of 13 to 18, sleeping on bunk beds in dormitories, eating nasi kawah, nightly prep hours, drooling over APC (American Peace Corps) male teachers, and
weekend jaunts in JB town clad in our white-and-green school uniform, thus earning us the nickname Katak Hijau (green frog) among JB boys.

STF was also weekend mathematics tutoring in the canteen by my maternal uncle Ayah Cik Ali, then a Telecoms engineer based in JB, who would turn up with his teacher wife, Wan Cik Shareefah Shamsiah, and made my head swim for at least two hours each Saturday trying to comprehend the complexities of Additional Mathematics.

[By the way, Wan Cik, who taught English, was the one who enlightened a confused 13 year-old me that 'duke' is pronounced dee yuuk and not 'duck', and that he is an English nobleman and not from that squawking specie, although he could well be a real duckie].

More poignantly, STF was where I fell in love for the first time, with an Indonesian trainee teacher in Sumatra who heard my voice over RTM JB (in a Berbalas Pantun programme where I represented the school) and wrote a beautifully crafted letter that melted my teenage heart.

It was a magical, year-long love affair conducted through a furious exchange of letters, expressing innocent, lovelorn sentiments that only two Cupid-stricken hearts could muster. That we never met at all added to the mystery. As with most first loves, it floundered when I left school, but the memories remain.


MrsNordin said...

You were from STF?? Oh my! My senior! Kena panggil kakak ke lepas ni?

The green baju kurung... I remember... No wonder kat dorm pun dulu ada hantu "Green Lady"!

Please to make acquaintance with you, kak Puteri!

Puteri Kamaliah At-Tarawis said...

Hehehe Mrs N... panggil ler apa pun...janji kita Srikandi..:)

Kak Teh said...

oh dear, mts N beat me to number one while I was sleeping!!!!

aaah, tak apa bagi chan kat orang STF!! Today, I am feeling so so so so sad because most of my former Sixth Form mate are celebrating our school's 100th anniversary - and I am here in Brickendonury emceeeing and most probably walking in the cold and in the rain that is most likely to spoil our Malaysia Carnival.

will be away the whole day or else I'd come back and haunt or stalk you for updates.

Pi Bani said...

First time commenting here. The katak hijau thingy prompted me to leave a comment this time.

You all were called katak hijau as well? I was a katak hijau too, but the Seremban version. I guess it doesn't matter lighter green or darker green, asalkan hijau, kataklah tu (although the real kataks I've seen are mostly not green!)

Salam merdeka and selamat menyambut Ramadan al Mubarak!

Puteri Kamaliah At-Tarawis said...

Salaam fellow katak hijau (seremban version)..:) Tq for dropping by. I enjoy reading your blog pieces. they make me realise how fortunate and blessed I am - Syukur Alhamdulillah. you are doing one hell of a good job there and I salute you. selamat berpuasa too.. semoga amalan kita diberkati Ilahi dibulan mulia ni.

Anonymous said...

long live srikandi!

fellow katak hijau

rizal hashim said...

Salam Puan,

My arwah mother was a member of the pioneering batch in 1956, alongside ZAR (Kak Bedah), Badariah Mimbar, Aminah Abdullah (adik Pak Lah), Cikgu Mariam Toha, to name just a few...and I happened to be an ex-colleague of your son the scribe. Ohhh...ann as well...I heard she's leaving the paper...


Kama said...

Rizal - sorry baru baca yr comment. Wah, your mum dlm pioneer batch in STF Durian Daun, Melaka? Salut! Which means kita ada a fair bit in common apart from you being my son's and daughter's ex-colleague in Malay Mail. Insyaallah one day we shall hv coffee together with the Naj & Ann as well..

saye kerink said...

salam. STF tuh ape?haha
by the way, 1st of all i want to say sorry because menyelit kat sini.
i thought ur blog ade shoutbox.
unfortunetly takde.
so, i just want to say thanks for visiting my bloggy.
and salam ziarah. and also salam ramadhan! ;]

Yazo29_0913 said...

Saje nak leave comment kat sini..
Best giler cerita auntie pasal 1st love tu.
fyi, I'm an STF student, batch 0913.. tengah cari info pasal sekolah untuk my Sejarah folio, and stumbled upon your post. I really enjoyed reading it (:

Kama At-Tarawis said...

yazo - tq for dropping by... hehehe.. citer dolu2..

busymum100 said...

Kak Puteri,

Can dedicate this song to your indon pen-pal :-)

Kama At-Tarawis said...

BM - oh my! thanks so much for the clip. tetiba kak puteri terasa sayu sikit .. heheh

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