I can still recall the youngest in our class, a brainy Ampang Jaya girl named Suraya Ahmad Termizi, 17, with whom I had developed some kind of "best friend-kid sister-mentor" relationship.
Sue went on to lead the pack academically; making it to the Dean's List almost every semester, winning the Gold Medal upon graduation in 1984, culminating with a masters degree in finance from an American university.
For all intent and purposes, I should have graduated in 1976 at the age of 22, and before hitting 25 should already have a post-graduate degree in TESL safely tucked under my belt.
Before the curtain had lifted on 1990, I should already have completed my doctorate, with a bona fide PhD affixed to my name. At 36, the spirit of 'Dr. Kama' would have soared in pursuit of professorship.
By then too, I should have been well into repaying my dues to this generous gomen by teaching English in a local university, in all probability my alma mater, UiTM.
I would have settled into a cosy if somewhat predictable academic existence. Heck, I could have been a real "academic somebody" by now and the world would have been my oyster a hundred times over.
Alas, Utopia it wasn't. Instead, amongst the significant sijils (certificates/documents) I had amassed over the years were two sijil nikah (marriage certs) and one sijil cerai (divorce cert), complemented by four sijil beranak (the kids' birth certs), the total sum of my lifelong achievements.
Not a bad collection, considering all the hassles that I had to go through without ever having to set up home in a library, read hefty tomes by the hundreds, and write thousands of pages of research notes, dissertations and theses.
Instead of worrying about grading student papers and presenting research ones, I ended up fixing both scraped knees and bleeding teenage hearts whilst chasing news and meeting deadlines, coping with cranky editors and even crankier clients, and later facing the perils of single-parenting whilst expertly dodging leery married men with filth on their mind.
There was a time in the not-too-distant past when I kept asking God all the WHYs... why was my path in life so thorny, why was I not given the opportunity to achieve my dream, why did my marriage fail, why did my business go bust, why didn't He send me a good, honest, God-fearing man to hold my hand and guide me ...
Thankfully, I have since given up dwelling on the negative. Age has given me the maturity that I had sorely lacked in my youth. To me, all those WHYS of yesteryears have been answered.
And the answer is stunningly simple; because He knows best. Surah Al-Baqarah (2.286) says: "And God does not burden any soul with more than he can bear." Since my love for Him is absolute and unconditional, I accept everything with an open heart.
Isn't Facebook wonderful? There I was, sitting quietly twiddling my toes and minding my own business when the entire class of Tourism Administration, ITM, 1984 came knocking on my FB door!
Up popped faces I had not seen for 26 years; their youthfulness replaced with maturity, with the merest hint of yesterday's innocence.
Many of us had met only once since graduation; in 1994 when I took the lead in organising our 10th anniversary dinner dubbed Mamakteria Revisited at the Legend Hotel in downtown KL.
More than half the graduating class attended that maiden reunion, as did a few lecturers and tutors. Since then, there had been a couple of small get-togethers initiated by the few that remained in touch.
Through Facebook I learned that many of them have achieved considerable success, as academicians, professionals, corporate figures and business people. Alhamdulillah.
As everybody's 'Big Sister' in college (and I'd like to think I still am now), I hope they'll continue to succeed in all their undertakings and make our Alma Mater proud.
Late last year a pleasant surprise awaited in this blog; a reader named Hamimah introduced herself as an ex-ITM mate of mine. Thank God I could still recall this engaging woman despite the years. She looked as lovely as she did a quarter century ago!
And when Mimah linked me to her on Facebook, the memory dam broke; I experienced a sudden banjir of long-ago names, whose respective images on Facebook I no longer recognised.
Despite time constraint and the short notice, some of us did make it to an impromptu lunch that I had hosted at the Royal Lake Club just days before leaving for umrah last month. This posting is, in fact, long overdue.
To my fellow ex-college mates, how about a proper dinner function the next time around? I certainly don't mind organising it again; good food & good music, door gifts, entertainment, lucky draws, VIP guest, special invitees, karaoke (mana boleh tinggal ini) - the whole works babe - Amacam?