Tuanku Muhammad School. Unchanged since 1930. Standing proud and magnificient in its glory. Those days it was one of the best school in N9. Excellent in sports and study.
I’ve roamed the corridors, lived the classrooms, met friends, lost them and late last year (2008) met some of them.
Some of the best years in life. Form 1 to Form 5 i.e., 1967 – 1971. English medium. The last of the batches. Our classmates were comprised of the three legendary main ethnic groups; Malay, Chinese and Indians.
We did not lived by slogans. We were truly friends. In every sense of the word. We speak Malay and English wherever possible or when the situation warranted. No big deal. Proficient or otherwise. They were just languages that we were supposed to master. Not because one language is superior to the other or this language could propel us to the top of the world. No such rubbish and short-sightedness existed during those years. Not like today.
We study English simply because we were in the English medium. We study Malay because it is the Bahasa Kebangsaan. We also have the Malay medium school as our neighbour notably the Sekolah Menengah Zaaba. We co-exist peacefully. No big deal!
Hari Raya, Chinese New Year and Deepavali were yearly event. No big deal! We visited each other a lot. During the fruit seasons they came in flock to visit their Malay friends. Since most Chinese lived in town whenever we lepak in town during the school holidays we visited them. Most of us know each other’s parents and treated them with respect.
One of my friends is a doctor, Dr Yap Hock Hee. He has a clinic in Kuala Pilah, our hometown. Every time my father visited him they talked like friends (without me around!). Those years your friend’s father is also your friend.
It was a common sight that Malay, Chinese and Indians grouped together. Whether in sports, clubs or just plain friendship. We quarelled too.
I still remember a fourth former Malay guy and its equivalent Chinese guy fought with each using a screwdriver. They battled it out furiously leaving skin-deep wounds and us watching (Chinese, Malay, Indians!). We didn’t take side. We let them settled it out.
Fights were frequent those days. We had a secret fighting arena. That’s where those warriors settled their animosities. They did not fight to death. Usually one of them will surrender or sometime they got tired or the meeting messed up by the unexpected arrival of adults or teachers. We treated those fights as something normal to adolescent. Adolescent is the age of discovery and stress. Those fights help the savage ones to ease the stress. The fights never grow into racial riots.
A clever Chinese, a brilliant Malay or an exceptional Indian? No big deal. Nothing to shout at. He or she was treated as the best student not best Malay student or best Chinese student or best Indian student. We have only one prize. It was for the best student.
Why were those years simple?
Politics! Those years politics came once every 4 or 5 years.
Today politics is an every day meal. You can find politics in your mainstream newspapers, your net favourite blogspots or forums, inside your school compound when teaching Maths and Science, in your house via television dramas or news, along the roadside with this signage SATU LAGI PROJEK KERAJAAN BARISAN NASIONAL, at the warung where the main topic of discussion is politics and so on and so on …
When you talk about politics you have to take sides. It means you are already divided. And stayed divided!
What to say?! Those good years have gone-by.