Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What Will Be, Will Be ( 1 )

THEY say you cannot escape your destiny. What is meant to be yours, one way or the other will be yours, even if it takes a circuitous route to reach you. By the same token, if it isn’t meant to be then it never will be, despite your best effort and the most skillful planning.

In 1965 my elder brother Fauzi, arguably the brainiest of our lot, became the first in the family to be selected for boarding school.

He entered Sekolah Datuk Abdul Razak (SDAR), then in Tanjung Malim, with the dawning of the 1966 school year, before moving on to ITM and eventually to Nova Scotia to graduate in Fisheries.

In 1966, I was in primary six at the same school, Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Besi, and gearing up for my own rightful place in the sun (so I thought). Just like him, I had been doing reasonably well myself throughout my six years of primary school.

I had never dipped below third placing in my studies, had represented and brought honour to the school in sports, debates and elocution contests many times over, had been head librarian since primary five and was eventually made head girl.

But the school board had other thoughts. They decided not to nominate another pupil from the same family for the same honour two years in a row.

When queried, the school vice-principal, Cikgu Amin, gave this lame excuse: “Takkan nak bagi kat adiknya pulak? Baru tahun lepas bagi kat abang dia.” (I don’t think we should offer a place to the sister when we already did to the brother the year before).

Never mind the fact that I was my own person, with my own personal achievements. I happened to be Fauzi’s sister and the one-year age gap between us was too close for comfort for the school board, so I didn’t make it.

I was only 12 and took the 'rejection' rather badly. I sulked for weeks. I had worked hard for it and knew I deserved it.

Worse, I had pinned my hope so much on a boarding school that I had not even considered other options. It was akin to “masuk sekolah berasrama penuh” or bust.

That year saw two boys from my batch allocated places in boarding schools; the head boy, hefty Yusoff Ahmad, went to SDAR in Tanjung Malim and skinny but brainy Abdul Rashid went to Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman (STAR) in Ipoh.

For the first time, the quota for girls was left unfilled despite my batch having two or three consistent high achievers, the names of whom I can still recall; Norlia dan Mariani.

In 1968, two years after my departure from Bukit Besi, the school acknowledged the academic achievements of my sister Zahana by sending her to Sekolah Tun Fatimah (STF), Johor Bahru.

And four years on, in 1972, another sister, Zaridah, won a place in Kolej Tunku Kurshiah (TKC), Seremban. In a way, the family felt vindicated.

But for luckless me, it was the Remove Class of Sekolah Menengah Inggeris Dungun some 22 miles away. For all intent and purposes, I had missed the boarding school boat (bus?)

Did I as much as whine and whimper in Dungun? Not on your life! Starting school in that small-town sekolah menengah turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Eventually I began to see a much bigger picture. I ended up having a ball of a time, acquiring Chinese and Indian friends for the first time in my life. In Bukit Besi, all non-Malay pupils attended the English primary school adjacent to our sekolah kebangsaan.

I was also learning Mandarin, indulging in school plays, debates and poetry reading sessions, not to mention joining a small-town band and singing at weddings and functions for a token sum.

We were young and oh so carefree. We studied hard and played hard. We organised frequent group outings, cycling in convoys to Sekayu waterfalls, Tanjung Jara, Teluk Bidara and Paka Bridge.

We had endless picnics by the pristine Dungun beach in the evenings where we brought our battery-operated turntables and vinyl records, set up campfires, unrolled our mengkuang mats and spread our simple snacks, whiling away time until the sun disappeared over the horizon.

And then there was the 'Head Boy' episode that saw me undeservedly earning a stake in the school's popularity contest for whatever it was worth. “The Slap” and Grandpa’s momentary loss of reason notwithstanding, I was having good, clean fun.

By the time Lower Certificate of Education (LCE, equivalent to today’s PMR) came a-calling in 1970, all thoughts of boarding school had evaporated into thin air. I was happy where I was. Friends were aplenty and the teachers were simply fantastic.

It was during the third term school holidays, in the midst of the 1970 monsoon season, when the school called. My LCE results had qualified me for a place in a boarding school. My name was duly nominated and accepted.

Four years after I had given up all hopes of becoming a boarder in an elite school, the opportunity presented itself. I was to make my way down South, to Johor Bahru, register myself in Sekolah Tun Fatimah (STF) in Jalan Larkin, and begin Form Four.

Was I elated? Well, not really. Why? Because I cherished Dungun English Secondary School. And I loved Dungun with every fibre of my being. Most of all, I didn't want to leave my wonderful friends and charming teachers.

I was scared of the unknown. I no longer had a single confident bone in my body about leaving home. I didn’t want to go anywhere. I wanted to live under Grandma’s wings forever...


19 comments:

Queen Of The House said...

And then what happened? Oh, of course you went to STF.

Salam sis. I just found your blog and I am enjoying your stories here :D

Pi Bani said...

Eh, mana aci macam tu... the honour should be given based on merit. Tak kiralah adik siapa or anak siapa.

Ahh, I bet you still had fun no matter where you were kan? Dungun ke, JB ke... Enjoy tetap enjoy!

Takkan you got homesick kot?

I know, I know... kena tunggu next episode... :)

Hi&Lo said...

Puteri,

The story of your life is very thought-provoking. Life is never fair. Due to some quirks, we may miss the boat which we think is for our taking. But in the end there is compensation in terms of life's lessons.

We might use our wits to manipulate a situation to our advantage. I find it's better to let go and let God cos He's all merciful and all knowing. I believe He wants the best for us.

I realise how foolish I have been thinking if I get something my life would be much happier and meaningful.

Anyway thank you for your stories are always full of hope.

talqin said...

cepat la sambung..

MrsNordin said...

I'm waiting for the next episode...

kay_leeda said...

Kak Puteri,

This time I won't do my "pulun baca" act as what I did in the "When love comes a calling" sequels. Akan dibaca satu persatu entry nya and experience the thrill and suspense in each of the episode.

Cepat lah cerita lagi, dear Sis!!

Kak Teh said...

Puteri, but it goes to show how resilient you are. I would have gone to the beach and bury my head and sorrows in the sand.

Anonymous said...

Komen Pak Malim, kucing ray yang alim.

Saya tak pernah pi sekolah, kata Pak Malim sambil duduk berkelah.

Ummi365 said...

eh tak aci camtu kan. betul you kata kalau dah rezeki, tolak tarik macam mana tetap dapatkan.. best baca story kak kama.. macam baca story book plak.. keep on writing ya!

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Queen - W'salam and tq kerana datang bertandang.

Pi - memang tak aci tapi dah depa kata takleh, diam ajerlah. Tapi my grandpa bungkam jugak..

hi&lo - Even after all these years, I never cease to be amazed at all the twists and turns in my life. Like I said, leave it to Him for He knows best.

talq & Mrs N - sabaq naa... ni semput dok pikiaq how to approach the next posting :)

Kay - aaaa, now u know, pulun2 ni no good for yr health. slow n steady does it, baru betui!

Kak Teh - I am the selamba kind. ada, ada. takdak, takpa... hehehe


Pak Malim, kucing ray yg alim
kata kama jgn dok madah berhelah
satgi buruk padah kena lelah
kalau dah semput takleh berkelah!
kata kama sambil siang ikan kelah..

ummi - betulkan? kalau dah habuan kita, tak kemana..

talqin said...

I geliati dengan pak malim kucing ray yang alim punya comment.

Sesedap je dia pegi bekelah.. :-p

Anonymous said...

Lagi Komen Pak Malim, kucing ray yang alim.

Maaf ya Kama, tumpang lalu, kata Pak Malim sambil memegang ulat bulu.

Talqin, terima kasih kerana geli hati, kata Pak Malim sambil naik pedati. Ye lah, saya tak pi sekolah, apa lagi nak buat, selain pi berkelah.

Kama, pantun awak semakin hari, semakin hebat, kata Pak Malim dgn bulu mata yang lebat.

bergen said...

Masa you kat DESS, saya kat Sekolah Kebangsaan Laki-Laki Dungun. Darjah 5.

kay_leeda said...

Kak Puteri,

Sorry yer...numpang bersama-sama talqin gelak tak kering gusi baca komen-komen Pak Malim, kucing ray yang alim.

Di mana agak nya Pak Malim berkelah? Di beting pasir, berkasut getah?

Kama At-Tarawis said...

talqin, kay - memang kata seloka this kucing ray sungguh memikat. boleh buat kita jatuh hati padanya..and kay, that was soo cool..sedap bunyinya!

Bergen - selamat kembali, rindulah lama tak baca tulisan you...

Pp said...

:-) bravo kama....!! STF naa...hehehe. and I think I know RASHID ur fren who went to STAR...hehehe. Where is he now? Jika jumpa cakap...pakpayne budok kelate red house kirim salam. We used to have nick name for RASHID...hehehe.

sambungan please....jeng jeng jengggggg....

Pp

Kama At-Tarawis said...

PP - oohh bestnya ada connection pulak kita melalui rashid. unfortunately, i lost touch with rashid lama dah. pray tell, apa nickname u all bagi kat dia? as far as i can remember, dia tu puny aja..

Mak Iti said...

Hi Puteri,

They call me Mak Iti (and I was only 13 then) kat sekolah di STF tu... you may or may not remember me. I was a timid and quiet kampung girl (even though dari KL, namely because I came from a very poor family)..so when you joined us, nama Puteri tu became the reason not to befriend you..hidung tak mancung pipi tersorong sorong kata hati ni. But reading your article.. truly never judge a book by its cover huh?

Quite a journey, you had. Made yr life fuller and richer I'm sure.

Anyway, I think Tuan Hj Ali tu my boss masa kat Jabatan Telekom Malaysia after it was privatised in the 90's.

If you are interested, there will be an open house for x-stf kat rumah Cik Na (Siti Norina Nuawi, our batch, tomorrow 18th Oct @ 23, Jln Jasa Utama, Off Jln Sg.Tua, Batu Caves..12-3.30. Pot luck.

They had stopped calling me Mak Iti, but would like to keep it for now.



Selamat Hari Raya

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Salaam Mak Iti - tq for dropping by. I ingat CekNa, in fact ada jumpa dia a couple of times since sebab I used to be neighbours with Cikpah (Norzipah)here in Tman Tun. TQ for the invite, unfortunately we have committed ourselves to other open houses dah on that date. Insyaallah, one day jumpa juga kita..