Today I’m gonna start writing about my past memories, all 27 years of them. The good, the bad, the memorable and the forgettable times. I feel it’s important that I write about my history from now on before I forgot. I ain’t got no flash memory you know and if I didn’t write soon, all might be loss forever. That’s why I thought, why not write my memories here on my blog so that all my friends and my kid(s) could read it someday (and have a good laugh at things I did). I have so many memories of my school days I could write a book about them! Maybe I would but for starters, let’s put them on my humble little blog.

I know I should start at the beginning but today I feel like writing only about my high school days. I went to Sekolah Menengah Sains Machang, which translates to Machang Science Secondary School situated about 40 km from my home in Pasir Mas and also the same distance from Kota Bharu, the capital of Kelantan. Sekolah Menengah Sains Machang (Smach for short) is a full government sponsored boarding school (Sekolah Berasrama Penuh/SBP). During my days there were only 40 such schools nationwide and being able to get into one is a big deal back then. This was because such schools can only accept a handful of student every year so the competition for admission is very stiff. I never applied for this school, instead it’s the teachers of my primary school who submit our names to the Education Dept. Every year, they send in a few dozen names of potential candidates and I guess that year in 1993, I was among the lucky ones. I said lucky because I feel I wasn’t that good in primary school to warrant a place in such a prestigious institution. Yes I did get straight As for my UPSR but so did 38 others. Anyway, my family was very happy that I got accepted into Smach. There’s only two such school in Kelantan, the other one is SM Faris Petra in Kota Bharu.

It’s my first experience living away from my family and understandably I was nervous and a bit scared. The next five years was an unforgettable experience for me and also for all my school mates for that matter.

Going to a high school in the east coast is really tough. Going to a boarding school is even tougher and I assure you it’s not for the faint hearted. Kids in Kelantan or Terengganu are a lot different from those who hail from the west coast like Selangor or Johore or Kedah. Here it’s the Jungle’s Law, the survival of the fittest. Anyone outside of Kelantan who went to school there will experience a huge culture shock and many of them it’s not exactly a pleasant experience. I don’t really want to bad mouth the place I grew up in but the truth is, it’s tough going to school there.

Orientation week

I survived the orientation week in one piece. The school had this informal tradition of ‘sending back’ freshies who they think don’t deserve to stay at the school. You see during the orientation week, all the new kids have to behave really good and get signatures from their seniors to prevent them from being sent home. The kid with the lowest signature will be send back come weekend. Therefore all of us tried our best to get signatures from our seniors. Naturally, many of them seniors waste no time exploiting this opportunity to make us do errands for them before we get our signatures. Some of us (including me) have heard of rumours from a few of our seniors saying it’s just a joke and I personally didn’t believe any of them either. I thought it’s just not logical for the school to send back students just like that. Still I tried to get a few signatures and about half of my signature paper is filled towards the weekend. The entire school including all the teachers played along with this prank you know so near the end it seemed almost real!

So come Friday, I called home – teary eyed and sad telling mother that I might be sent home this weekend. Forgive me for being a disappointment to you, I guess I didn’t try hard enough. You can’t blame us really, we were young and naïve and it’s a first week in high school man and already we might be send back! For the Malay Kebudayaan (performance night) we were divided into groups and had to give a performance each. My group decided to perform a dance to the tune of a popular Malaysian rap group back then, 4U2C. Yeah I was a fan of 4U2C then (although I’m ashamed to admit that now!) so I volunteered to take part in the act. You see I was rather chubby and cute when I was 13 so just imagine me dancing to the beat of rap music on stage. The stage floor must have shaken violently by my weight. We practiced for 2 days but on the last day I had a fever and couldn’t possibly perform the next day so they replaced me with another boy. I was disappointed but come to think of it, I’d probably laughed myself hoarse seeing my performance that night. :)

Finally the weekend comes and we had this morning assembly where they announce the names of those who didn’t make the cut. The whole school was there and all our seniors were clapping and cheering and booing making it a festive like atmosphere and frighteningly REAL to us! We had to pack our bags and all and brought our stuff to the assembly place. The school bus were already fired up and ready to go as they announce the names one by one. Each of the unlucky kids was crying as they board the bus. I was relieved to escape the whole ordeal and soon enough found out that it was al just one big prank. Those we did board the bus were taken for an outing at the nearest town in Machang and returned back a few hours later. So that’s how we do orientation, Smachian way at my school. And they kept the tradition going the next year, and the next and the next and I wonder if they still do that today, hmm . A bit cruel you might say but that’s their way of nurturing our love for the school. My school days are a far cry from what you see on High School the Musical. Even so, if I were given another chance to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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