Some of my class mates had contacted me after the last article and have fed me with new materials to be posted. To be able to fully appreciate the jest, it would be prudent to put yourself in the shoes of a 17 year old lad of the 70s and not to make comparison with the teenagers of today who are far different from what we were then. I also regret for not being able to consider reproducing some of the repartee that I received as I find that the presentation is better when spoken as compared to its print version where the impact is diminished and the effect lost. The following are some of the recollections.
1. Nazir was late to school one morning and the new mathematics teacher (her first day in school) had already started her class after introducing herself. He stood outside for a while, blocked from the teacher's view by the door and although he was making funny faces at us, we could see that he was nervously preparing himself on what excuse to give. After a while, he knocked on the door and the teacher nodded him in. He entered with a heavy limp, with his right hand stretching down to hold his knees for support and kicking his leg forward before initiating his next stride, appearing to require great effort to enable his movement. As he came in, he slurred as he wished the teacher ‘good morning’ to make it look like he was really handicapped. The teacher believed his stance, took pity on him and guided him in to his chair without asking any questions on his lateness. We were all very tickled by his antics but nevertheless controlled bursting out. It was only a day later that the teacher realized she had been taken in when she saw him in the field…….. playing football.
2. Cikgu Bakar, the BM teacher was asking questions one by one, starting from the left row, front to back, then the next row etc. When it came to Singh’s turn, instead of answering the question, he said ‘pass’. The Cikgu, tickled by what he heard, just said “Singh, ini bukan Scrabble, Singh.
3. Cikgu Bakar had asked the class to come up with a simpulan bahasa each that started with the word ‘batu’. I was seated somewhere in the middle of the class and when it came to my turn, I couldn’t think of any more of it that started with ‘batu’. So I said ‘Batu Pahat’. When the Cikgu said there was no such simpulan bahasa, I continued……..’Batu Ferringhi?……. bolih kah Cikgu?’, appearing ignorant. “Sudah! Duduk!” he said.
4. Then there was another incident in class when the Literature teacher got irritated with my constant distractions as I was chatting away with Imbaraj while the class was in session. Instead of reprimanding me, she looked at the mild mannered Imbaraj and advised “Imbaraj I know you are a nice guy. You should stop mixing with Aravindan. He is a bad influence on you. It won’t do you any good if you continue with him. It might even affect your performance in the exam”. Like a humble and innocent victim of circumstances, he nodded his head in agreement. Later the same day, as we were making our way to the canteen during recess, we saw the same teacher coming our way from another class. We quickly embraced ourselves in a hug and continued walking, to show that we were actually thick friends and nothing could break us. We could see her looking down and controlling her laughter and heading to the staff room. We later learnt from other teachers that she was laughing in the staff room for a long time while relating to them about the incident.
5. One day after school, Imbaraj and I were on our way to BM town to have ice-kacang. On our way to the shop, we had to pass Singh’s house who we knew very well was still in school attending the Historical Society meeting in which he was the secretary. He lived with his parents on the upper portion of a double storey shop-house. When we called for him from the bottom of the stairs, his father peered down and answered “Dia pigi skohlah!” Hearing this, we said “Tada uncle! Dia tada mari pun. Kita datang terus dari sekolah! Dia tada mari ini hari”. Seeing the father in a confused state of mind, we went off to have our ice-kacang. We were laughing along the way because we knew that his father had believed us as we were still in school uniform.
The next morning as usual we had all gathered at the school assembly point and I was as usual busy chatting with Imbaraj when we saw Singh coming. We pretended we didn’t know anything and went about talking to ourselves. He came near and kept staring at us without saying a word. He was quite sure that it must have been the 2 of us as his father, who had never met us before, had described that 2 Indian boys had come by that afternoon ‘looking’ for him. Singh was certain that we were the only friends he had who were capable of pulling off such nonsense. But we kept our cool and pretended through the whole day. Later towards the end of school, he became convinced that it was probably not us and started relating to us about the incident and how his father had scolded and slapped him for skipping school. It was then that we couldn’t control ourselves anymore and burst out laughing! He became so angry that he chased us round the school and didn’t talk to us for 2 days after that.
6. During the first term exam, Singh got only 9 1/2 marks for maths. As usual on our way for ice kacang after school, Imbaraj and I stopped at a wooden shed just before the railway station (a route taken by most students to school) and, using a chalk, wrote in block letters the following:
BM High School Mid Term Results
Mokhtiar Singh - Form 5A
Mathematics - 9 1/2 marks over 100.
Singh takes another route to school and back home everyday, over the railway tracks and doesn't pass this shed. So he had not seen the writings. But most of the other students had seen the message. The next morning as Singh, Imbaraj and I were chatting at the assembly point waiting for the bell to ring, one by one the students approached him asking about his maths results. Initially he didn't feel something was wrong. But as more and more of them came asking and making fun in the process, he asked us "How all these buggers know eh?" We answered in tandem "How we know Singh? You think we got time to tell all of them ah? We got no other work ah?" Only after about 2 days did someone tell him about it and he went with a wet cloth to rub it off. We had a good laugh. He, of course was not amused.
These incidences are recollected to jog the memory of the 5 remaining living members of JACHFRINS to the manifestation of the camaraderie and commonality that existed between us in the past…… in the hope that it may inspire a reunion sometime, while still alive, to capture those lovely moments again. Jalil, Imbaraj and I are still in touch and we have also reestablished contact with Nazir who is in Penang. Singh has settled down in NZ and returns regularly to visit his folks. I have lost touch with Radzi since school days. As for the C-H-F in the acronym…..Chan, Hari and Farid……we have lost them forever under various circumstances. May their soul rest in peace……..at least in the other world!