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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cranks & Pranks

This is a recollection of my childhood pranks and experience.

In the year 1972, our informal group The JACHFRINS comprising the 9 members had not been formed yet. The reason for this was because in Form 4, we were all fragmented, scattered in three different classes although we were all in the Arts Stream. And for some strange reason, all of us hated ‘art’ as a subject. None of us could draw or paint or do anything that would remotely qualify us as an ‘artist’. (We all knew each other well though as we were quite active in various activities representing either the school or our individual ‘houses’). Whenever time permitted, we used to share our frustrations about this subject. We realized at some point that there was something common in us that helped forge this rapport in the relationship. During such moments when we met, we would also invariably share the pranks that we played in each of our class and end up having a hearty laugh. Once we recalled the day when the Art teacher had asked the class to draw a visual image of the hand in whatever pose we could imagine. I ended up colouring my full palm and imprinting the impression onto the art paper before submitting it. If you think that was bad, Imbaraj’s work was a master-piece...........he submitted a drawing of a clenched fist with the thumb in between the index and middle fingers. It was just our way of expressing our distaste for the subject. But of course the teacher didn’t take it kindly. He put us both through detention class that Saturday. But the rest of the class found it funny and that was what mattered to us then. We could laugh at others’ faults as well as our own.

So imagine our surprise when the following year, all 9 of us ended up in the same class….. From 5A. It was through sheer coincidence that owing to our reasonably good command of the English Language, we had all decided to drop art as a subject and had opted to do English Literature instead; hence we ended up being grouped together. It was fun from then on. As I said in my blog on Life’s Realities (posted on 23-06-09), by using the first letter from our names, we became known as The JACHFRINS. Or to be more precise, that’s what WE called ourselves. No one else did because apart from the 9 of us, no one else knew. (One of my classmates Nazir who is himself a Cikgu now and who blogs under had written an excellent piece about this comradeship in his 24/9/08 post titled 5A BMHS 1973). I had been instrumental in coining the acronym having nothing better to do one silent night when I was supposed to be studying but had been reminiscing about the day’s events at home after everyone had slept. My parents liked it when I stayed awake at night with a book in front of me. The longer I stayed awake, the more they appreciated the ‘hard-work’ I was putting in. Little did they know that on most nights, I had no control of my hyperactive straying mind that indulged in these wasteful (but joyous) pursuits. The following are some of my recollections from my student days.

One day during our mathematics class, the teacher was covering the subject on navigation. As he recited the question, we were told to plot on our exercise book the route taken by an airplane from point A to point B, then to point C. We were later to discuss the mechanics on how we had arrived at our answers. Although I don’t remember the exact question, it went something like this:-

“An airplane leaves point A and flies 315 nautical miles in the direction of N15 degrees 18 minutes East to point B”.

I was ok with maths so I went about plotting the route and as I did so, from the corner of my ears, I could hear a faint voice going “oooooonnnnnnnnnnn”. I quickly finished plotting, turned and saw that Jalil, who was seated one row in front to my right, was busy charting something while at the same time making that offensive sound. Imbaraj, who was seated beside him struck a serious pose with folded arms, staring blankly in front, not doing anything. He had apparently forgotten his exercise book but we later learnt that Singh had taken and hidden it to sabotage him.

The teacher then continued. “From point B, the plane turns and flies 296 nautical miles in the direction S74 degrees 42 minutes East towards point C. The question is……. how far and in what direction should the plane fly to return to the airport?”

As soon as the question was over, Jalil resumed his histrionics and again went “ooooooonnnnnnnnn”. I could roughly make out that it sounded like the whirl of an airplane engine and smiled to myself. I found it funny having to attempt a question on navigation with the sound of aircraft engine in the background. Unfortunately, the teacher had heard the sound too!

Before I could finish my plotting, he had quickly walked up unnoticed to where Jalil was seated who was still focused on what he was doing. When Imbaraj discretely nudged to alert him, he looked up shyly, very much embarrassed by the whole episode. The teacher peered into his exercise book and gave him a long hard stare. From where I was seated, I could see the teacher’s expression turning from disappointment to utter disgust. Without saying a word, he slowly turned his attention to Imbaraj who was seated beside Jalil, with his arms still folded, appearing to look as cool as ever, and asked “And Imbaraj, what do you think you are doing?”

Without an iota of hesitation, “I am waiting for him to finish, sir”, was his reply! The teacher heaved a sigh, shook his head in disbelief and returned to the front to continue with the lessons.

After the teacher had left, we gathered around to find out what actually happened. What we found was truly hilarious. Following the teacher’s recital of the question, Jalil, who had a poor comprehension of the subject, had not been able to follow a word of what the teacher was saying. To appear busy, he had drawn a small aeroplane with the letter ‘A’ beside it. Then he drew dotted lines to indicate the path of travel. The sound we heard was supposed to denote that the plane was flying towards point B. At the end of the route, he had drawn another small plane with the letter ‘B’. It was during the plane’s continued journey to point ‘C that the teacher had interrupted him because we could only see a diagram of a half-completed plane. We all had a good laugh.

Then another incident I remember was during our Bahasa Malaysia class where the Cikgu was explaining to us the words PM and MP. He said that the direct translation of Prime Minister (PM) was actually Menteri Perdana which would make him an “MP” and as such unsuitable since the letters MP already stood for a Member of Parliament. There was therefore a dire need to retain the letters PM as an identity for the Prime Minister in its Malay translation, hence the words Perdana Menteri. We were all half asleep during this uninteresting explanation. Politics were the least of our concern. We were more into fun and games. Although uninterested, we pretended to be listening intently and even asked some related questions, just to make it look like we were paying attention.

Seeing this, the Cikgu continued with the subject. He then asked if anyone knew what the Malay translation was for Deputy Prime Minister. We were in the English medium then and there had been some students in the other classes who had been ignorant, being poor in the Malay language. I obviously knew what the answer was and immediately put up my hand. When he failed to take notice of my persistent screams of “Cikgu! Cikgu! Cikgu!” but was instead still looking around to pick on someone else, I quickly stood up on my chair to gain his attention, still screaming “Cikgu! Cikgu! Cikgu!”

He was probably a bit irritated by my overzealous action and reluctantly allowed me to answer. I knew what the answer was but just to add some humour to the otherwise mundane session, looked at him straight into his eyes and said “Naib Johan Perdana Menteri, Cikgu”.

“Kepala Otak Hang!” he retorted and made me stand on the chair for the rest of the session. The rest of the class roared in laughter.

These are but some of the many episodes that had taken place in my life. I shall reproduce more of such in later posts.


Kata Tak Nak said...

I dropped maths in my mce because of the navigation questions la. I remember my 1st progress test result for maths was 1 mark. I used that to persuade Naidu to allow me to drop maths.

I remember once of us used the cikgu's bald head to pretend to comb his hair and I was rolling man. Maybe I'll put up what I could remember of the JACHFRIN days.

One Woman's Thoughts said...

Hello uncle,

why no more new updates ah... I am reading even though in Bali ok....

Miss u all. Love and regards to all at home and got to go now Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.