Thursday, July 18, 2013

Updated, sorta finalized version.


               Exactly four years ago, I stood at the podium, about to begin my speech for a slot during assemblies given to chosen students to deliver a 3-minute speech on any topic they pleased. So, I took a deep breath and started with “I can’t wait to leave this school.”

                Eyes were on me as I’ve said that almost blasphemous line, and so I added at the end, “but I will leave behind unforgettable memories.” I didn’t say it just to get myself out of the fix, I really did mean it.

               I wished the speech was more refined, as I went about it with no prepared text, and the words were as raw as it could get. I went on to talk about the memories I had from 2005 to 2009. I also said that I’d never find teachers such as this anywhere else in the world. Now, I guess I am old enough to testify to my own statement that I made four years ago. Indeed, it’s hard to find teachers who had as much dedication and compassion as they had back then, even if we couldn’t appreciate it at that time.  

                So, this is Faris Petra revisited.

                Perhaps it’s too early for my generation to revisit the past. We’re currently more occupied with concerns of finishing our tertiary studies, getting a job and being financially stable. Perhaps, we’re too happy with our current group of friends, but I find that taking a backward glance once in a while is good to remind yourself of where you came from and of the people who’ve had your back for five years.

                We all started as naïve little kids who were thrust into the wilderness of boarding school life. Of course we knew nothing of the brute that was called “seniority”, and we were only trying to get accustomed to our new microcosm. I detested that the juniors were always given “special treatment” by the prefects, when it came to enforcing rules. They were extra strict on us, because we’re the new people and secondly, we’re not smart enough to rebel yet, but of course, at that time, ragging is considered an age-old tradition and regarded as “character-building” so that we don’t turn out as ill-mannered, rebellious brats in our upper years. I don't necessarily agree with this arrangement, but of course, that was the order of the day at that time. 

                First two years of our five-year life was filled with homesickness and adjusting to a semi-independent life. Well, independence at that time meant we had to wash, dry, fold and iron our own clothes, and to us girls, we’d already felt like little domestic goddesses. On Fridays, some of us would have parents over for picnic During Ramadan, some people’s parents come and break fast with their kids, and we’d have extra special dishes for iftar at the dining hall such as nasi hujan panas, or nasi kerabu, and we’d have kuih on the side.

           Another festive season for the student body also takes place during the sports day event. At that time I thought the extravagance and the expenditure was a little too much, after all, it was sports day, people should be wearing track suits and not prancing around in finery and costumes. Of course, I didn’t see it as tradition that time. It was a getaway from our mundane lives as students. Everyone wanted it to be remembered, and worked hard to ensure their respective houses would win. Each member was made full use of. I was no sportswoman in those days, so even though I had nothing significant athletically to contribute, I still had to help out with other stuff like sewing costumes, preparing refreshments. The night before the event itself was festive. There would be food stalls opened to nourish all the hardworking youngsters for their final preparations, be it for sports events, marching, and formation or tent decorations.

                Form 3 was a hands-off year, because everybody knows we’ve got some studying to do for a big exam. However, skipping right over post-PMR was when all the good times happened. For two whole months of nothingness, it was bliss, the boys got to play their soccer every single day from morning to noon, while the girls went on a marathon of Korean drama. At the same time, the teachers tried to keep us occupied with some activities, one of it was the inter-class drama competition, which I believe, was introduced in my year. It was really fun, since we had basically nothing to do, and the classroom rivalry that ensued was all part of a healthy competition. It was all the more memorable for me, personally, because 3 Lambda, my class, won the competition that year. Hehehe.  

                Form 4 was also an eventful year for most of us. It was the year the school was first recognized as a cluster school, and we earned recognition for our academic achievement at the National HKSBP event. Our principal at that time, Wan Hamzah also received recognition as a JUSA C level principal, and retired that same year. What followed was a flux of people coming and going in holding the office as the three senior assistants and a temporary state of being principal-less.

                In that period, I was very critical of the rules mainly because the rules were informed and enforced by word of mouth; there was no black and white on the school rules. Enforcement of rules depended on communal policing by the student body, prefects and the wardens. The rules were also changed based on conditions, depending if it needed to be stricter or more lenient. So, much of the rules were experimental throughout the years. 

                This was also the year Corporate Day was introduced on Tuesdays of every second and fourth week in the month, and this applied to the Form 5 students who will be leaving the school and pursuing their careers. In its first year, the students had their own discretion on how to dress. During my year, all the girls were imposed a guideline and we were made to purchase specific textiles and had our Corporate Day “uniforms” customized according to a suggested design. 

                My final year was also a year full of change, because for the first time that year, we had students taking 11 subjects, either Principle of Accountancy or Visual Arts as an extra subject. It was also the first year that the option to drop EST was made available. This was also the final year that we had a total of seven classes, because the year after, the school had annual intakes of new form four students, instead of every two years, and class Sigma was abolished.

                Life during SPM actually made up for the rest of the regime-like five years that I had in school, despite having to pore through books and study. It was more relaxed. There were only the Form 5 students around, rules were a lot more lenient, and we had a little bit more freedom than we ever had in all those years, and it was the time that we’d get together for the last time before we’d leave our adolescent life in a boarding school for good. To add to the nostalgia, it was also the monsoon season. Days spent indoors with friends chatting over piping hot Maggie with a coffee or a tea on the side. It was the simplest pleasures in life, but it was memorable. 

                After our final paper, which was Chemistry, we were chased out of the hostels because we weren’t allowed to stay an extra day for fear that some of us will get into mischief. It ended with a light meal of fried bihun and the principal’s speech. It felt pretty anticlimactic, I’d expected something more.. melodramatic or sentimental  Well, I guess, at that time, I was just kind of glad that exams were over, and I couldn’t wait to get home. 

                  My experience in Faris Petra gave me a wealth of experiences from debating, magazine editing, to event-managing, leadership, cooperation, and friendship. Although my priority has always been to strive academically, however, I did find that my time in high school was a colorful one. I've had my share of mischief. I guess I just wanted to make the most out of life, doing the best I can despite being confined to the boarding school bubble. I can bet that most of us had their fair share of being chased down by wardens, playing truant, sneaking out of school to go to football matches, or just for a release from routine life. However, I believe that it wasn't done with purely malicious, nor anarchist intent. We were young and we craved freedom, even if we did not even know what true freedom means at that age.

                 I guess it is part of growing up in admitting that you had a good time, you can’t go back to it, for sure, but once in a while, it’s good to remind yourself of who you were and how far you’ve come. You wouldn’t have come this far, if it were not for the past events that make you who you are now. At the very least, looking back at it should give you a sense of closure, instead of lingering what ifs. Faris Petra indeed was a part of who I was, even if it is no longer part of who I am. To my seventeen year old self on the podium in 2009, I left the school, like you had wanted, but it is true indeed that the memories were unforgettable.



Rahman girls

debate team BM, BI UIA 2008

3 Lambda

KJ


Mr Dol

Corporate Day



5 Alpha


Debate 2008

Debate 2009

Beta girls

5 Alpha Dabong Project

3 Lambda English class

Drama team 2009

SEMASA 2008

Sekolah Angkat 2007

Prefects 2009

Penolong Ketua Rumah Hussein, Razak, Mahathir, Rahman KOT 2009

Random outing

Prefects girls 2008

Girls 2008

St John 2008
some 4 Alpha girls and Puan Azalina

Prefects girls



5 Alpha

PRS

Sigma girls

Syakir

Rahman

Golf

Semasa dinner party

st john

graduation

two 0509 kids in Canada

4 Sigma

Sigma boys
English society

the original 0509 semasa team

st john camping

semasa 2008
english debate team 2008 UIA

Beta peeps

Beta community service

Beta community service

1 Lambda

Form 5 2009

Semesta Raya 2010

debate team

baju outing, debate team
           



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