Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Reunion

I’ve been trying to write about the reunion I had with my primary school friends last Sunday. But every time I do that, the words get in the way.

For some reasons, I’m feeling sad. When I look at the reunion pictures posted on my FB, I can’t help wishing that I’m 12 years old again. Back in my small hometown, riding bicycles in the evening and climbing trees with my friends.

Why do I feel this way? Did I miss anything?

The meeting we had last Sunday was a blast. It provided an avenue for us, 11 good buddies when we were small, to catch up on lost times.

I met B again after 30 years. I must confess, I used to have a huge crush on him in Std 6! Who wouldn't? He was a popular boy in school, being a school runner and all. I thought about him all the time after primary, sometimes even dreaming of him. But in my dreams, he was always the 12 year old boy looking at me with a smile. And I remember that smile perfectly...

So when he walked into Melting Pot last Sunday, I was very nervous. I dared not look him in the eye for I was afraid he would notice how edgy I was. He recognized me straight away. We exchanged hellos and he went on to sit at the end of the table. I wonder if he felt the same way about me. He still looked the same, though, like he never aged. Perhaps, that's why I felt it was a bit of a letdown.

Then I met the love-letter boy. Also nervous the first time we shook hands, but after a while, things just jived in. We joked about the time when he was called in by my mother to the staff room. He was teased by the girls for being such a naughty boy in class.

I recalled the time when we went to mengaji with the same ustazah whom we called Wan. Wan lived next to Shera’s house and all of us mengaji with her. Me and my two brothers, Shera and her sister, a few other friends and him. I remember, he used to cucuk the al-Quran with the penunjuk until berlubang. Don’t know why he did that.. sampai berlubang Quran tu! Tapi tak jugak pandai2 mengaji! Hee.. hee…

My two Angels were there too... Nani and Shera. Nani still looked the same after all these years. Her face looked exactly like how I remembered her when she was 12. The way she walked, the way she talked, the way she laughed... they were all the same. Amazing!

And Shera, I don't remember her being so quiet but that was how she was then and now. She just sat there next to me observing the others mostly unless she was spoken to. She had kept her hair straight and long, very elegant. This was the only thing that was different about her as she used to wear her hair short last time.

Jamilah, the one who I remember as someone who liked to pick a fight with us, is the only one who still maintain a slim figure despite having two kids. She looks a bit different now from the last time, more refined, I would say. Had I bumped into her on the streets, I wouldn't have recognised her.

She hugged me so hard when we first salam each other. It was so hard that I just broke down and cry. I didn't realise how much I've missed her.. I couldn't contain my feelings at that time because I felt so happy to see her again and be reunited with my other childhood friends whom I haven't seen for so long.

Jamilah & me

The rest who came were Sayed ~ we called him Cili Padi last time because he was short and small. The shortest boy in class. He has grown taller a bit now, looks more mature and holds an important position in one of the investment banks in town. Very well done. His parents still live in Bota. They were teachers, just like mine.

Then there was Nizar ~ oh yes, how can I forget about him? He was the boy who I always competed with during exams. If it was not me, it would be him who would get No. 1 in class. My mother would always grit her teeth whenever Nizar's marks were higher than mine.

When I was choosing a name for my little ultraman, "Nizar" was in the Top 3 because all the Nizars I know are either a very important person or is very clever. MrNordin's ex-boss was En. Nizar, there's a doctor, who we usually go to, known as Dr. Nizar, and this friend of mine, who was very clever in school, is also known as Nizar. Hence, the name Nizzar for my baby, but with a double zee.

Me and Nizar

Besides them, there were Zaida and Meor. Zaida was one of my close buddies too, her parents were teachers as well and I used to go to her house with my father dulu. Her mother has passed away recently but her dad still lives in Parit.

Zaida has one daughter who she brought along during the meeting. I heard, she had just gone through a divorce but I did not ask her about it. I think it was too personal and that kind of question should be reserved for another occasion.

Meor ~ he was the second shortest guy in class. We didn't expect him to turn up but he was a surprise arranged by Nizar. Like Sayed, Meor has grown slightly taller now. Very nice.

So, what's next?

We are planning to meet again during another classmate's wedding in April. It is his first marriage, to a 20 something girl. He missed the boat earlier on, I guess.

Someone shouted, "Jom buat kat Parit lah!" Yeah.. that's an idea. Then we can invite some of the teachers who are still around, including my mother. I'm sure she would love to see her old students again.

As for now, I'm still trying to digest this wonderful feeling I had since last Sunday. I suppose, reunion does this to people: It makes us feel nostalgic, and it's good for our system.

Us then...

Class photo Std. 2, 1976 (I'm seated at no. 4 from the right). The class teacher was my mother.

Us now....

L to R: Isham (LLB), me, Bakri, Sayed, Nizar, Meor, Jamilah, Zaidah & her daughter, Nani, Shera

More photos at http://www.facebook.com/#/nmunit?v=photos

More stories on my childhood at http://mrsnordin.blogspot.com/2010/01/childhood-memories.html

Friday, January 22, 2010

Letting Go

MrNordin received a call from his second daughter a couple of nights ago, asking if she could go to Langkawi with her friends. Seven of them are going, they plan to rent a car and stay there for a couple of days.

My husband was alarmed. I could see cold sweat forming on his head while he was still on the phone with her. He flashed that WHAT SHOULD I DO?!!” sign to me and I whispered, Say you’ll think about it…”

This is not the first time she seeks permission to go for an outing with her friends. The first time was during fasting month last year, wanting to go to a waterfall in Sg Petani with a few of her friends. That request was met with a straight no.

Waterfall?? Doesn’t she read the newspaper?!!”, screamed my husband.

Even I was against the idea. Nak pegi waterfall during fasting month? Whatever for?!

I spoke to her against the idea and she was freaking mad. I told her our reasons, but she was very adamant about going. After pleading with her (yes, I pleaded. Never before in my life), she decided not to go in the end.

But her parting words to me were, “If like this, I won’t tell Baba wherever I’m going again!” Very harsh.

So that night when she asked again whether or not she can go to Langkawi with her friends, I’ve already had my answer.

I told my husband, “Just let her go. You can’t stop her from going anymore. At least she told us about it...”

Yes, I know. But telling me doesn’t mean I have to agree!”, he argued.

I guess, this is a common dilemma for parents. When children start leaving the nest and wanting to do things on their own, we worry for them, we worry for their safety, we worry for their future. All because we love them.

My husband is very protective of his children. There is no such thing as outings with friends as and when you please, sleepovers and what not. Details must be given whenever they want to go out. If he’s not convinced, you’re not going. Masa sekolah dulu, budak2 ni mana ada peluang nak pegi cuti2 organized by the school or friends. The answer was always “No, if you want to go, I’ll take you there.

But the whole idea was not about going to the place, it’s all about going with the friends, right?

I am quite relaxed when it comes to these things because my parents were not very strict about travelling with friends when I was growing up. I used to go to Pangkor and Langkawi with my A-Level friends dulu. Sometimes I took the bus alone from Ipoh to meet my friends in KL, Kuantan and Terengganu. Sampai ke Kelantan pun ada, sorang2! Hee.. hee…

I know the need to get away with friends and I’m sure my husband does too. It’s just that he worries for their safety more than anything else. “What if something happen to them? I will never forgive myself, you know…”, he keeps on telling me.

I guess my husband should learn to let go. We can’t stop them anymore because they are all so big already. They are ready to venture on their own and do their own things without the parents’ supervision. All we can do is tell them to be careful. And every once in a while, to call us and inform us of their whereabouts so we don’t wonder and worry about them. That’s all we can do at this stage...

As of now, my husband still hasn’t made up his mind. It’s a tough call for him, but I know he will make a wise decision eventually…

Friday, January 15, 2010

Latest Update on My Friend

She's conscious now. The doctors are going to do a CT scan on her to confirm there's nothing left inside. She's terrified but holding on. She's also had her first drink and porridge this morning.

That's great news!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I visited a friend at the hospital the other night. She’s been diagnosed with Aneurysm.

I’ve never heard of this illness before but upon investigations, I found out that it is actually a small bubble in the artery of the brain caused by, most likely, stress. And it is quite fatal because if the bubble bursts, it could lead to brain hemorrhage, which could be deadly.

It all started with a tooth ache (yes, just like my husband’s). But it got infected and spread to her eyes, causing one of it to swell. She started to lose her vision and experienced bad headaches, and was admitted to Assunta for further tests.

Through MRI and MRA scans, the neurologist detected something else, that she has this tiny bubble inside one of the arteries in her brain. They were hoping that the bubble is located right at the back of her head so that surgery could be done easily. Unfortunately, it is located right deep inside her brain, just behind her left eyeball.

I was shocked to learn about her condition. I rushed to the hospital to see her before they could do anything to her. “I had to see her!”, I told myself.

She is actually not my friend; she's my husband’s colleague in Iskandar. I knew her through my husband because they work together closely. She’s a lawyer with the company. She follows my husband to JB sometimes when she needs a ride and we always meet during company functions or other social events.

She’s a very nice lady, her husband too. They make a swell couple, very friendly. They have a daughter, aged 4. They’re trying for another one but her work commitment is not making it easy for her.

She is a workaholic, as observed by my husband. It’s all work for her coz she loves her job so much. Either that, or she has no choice.

The last time we met was right after that Sunway Lagoon thingy when her husband invited a few of us for a surprise birthday party for her. We went, and she was very happy to see us. We had a good time that night, chatting and laughing away. She looked so happy that night. I gave her a birthday present which she said she would keep until Christmas.

She invited us to her house on Christmas Day but we couldn’t go because my husband was not well that day. “I’ve made something for you, you know..”, she told my husband when she saw him again after that. She was supposed to give it to us on that day she was admitted to the hospital, but I guess, it was not meant to be.

Back to her condition. When I saw her that night, she could still recognize me, although blurry. Yesterday morning, I was told, she had lost all vision. She was rushed to Pantai as her neurosurgeon wanted to work on her immediately. The surgery was conducted last night. They did a cardinal surgery which involved opening up her skull to remove/clip the bubble (not sure which one).

She went in at 9pm and came out at 5am this morning. A 7-hour procedure! Her husband said she is still in the ICU now, with stable condition. But her mental state has yet to be ascertained.

I’m praying very hard that she’ll get through this operation successfully. That night when I saw her, she said to me, “I’m scared…”. I could still remember her face and her strong hand gripping mine. She had her eyes closed most of the time because she couldn’t stand the pain in her head.

I spoke to her mother at length that night. I’ve never met her before but she’s a very sweet lady and very engaging. She told me she has 3 children, but one has passed away.

I didn’t sense any tense or worry in her eyes that night because she was very calm throughout, but just as I was about to leave, she took my hand and said, “Please pray for her. I’ve already lost one daughter, I don’t want to lose another one..”

Tears streamed my eyes as I hugged her at the door. “Don’t say that, aunty, she’ll be ok. We’ll all pray for her…”

Please pray for her too.

Joanne and her daughter, Tamara

(photo taken from her FB)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

An Evening in Genting

It’s 4.00 pm on a hot Saturday afternoon. My MIL had just gone home after lunching at our house and my husband was lying on the sofa, dozing off. The air-cond was on full blast.

"Yang, I have an idea".

"What?" (eyes half shut)

"Let’s go to Genting this evening".


Nak buat apa?”

Saja.. jalan2. Get a coffee or have our dinner there..”

Ok.” And he went back to sleep.

That was how we ended up in Genting last Saturday night.

For some reasons, we always go up to Genting Highlands late in the evening. I like it coz it’s colder at night.

The kids were excited, “Are you sure?? Why??” They couldn’t believe their parents wanted to do something crazy like that one more time.

The last time we went up was two years ago. 12 people in our Naza! 2 in front, 6 in the middle row, and 4 in the back row, all squeezed in like sardines. It wasn’t planned, that’s what made it more fun. But this time, it was just the 6 of us in our family.

The drive up took only 45 minutes. By the time we got there, it was almost 8pm. As we wound down the windows, strong icy wind blew onto our faces. Oooo… sejuk!!

I saw the late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong’s memorial just before (or was it after??) Awana. Eee.. it was kinda spooky seeing his statue “sitting” there by the roadside!

We parked our car near First World Hotel and made our way to the indoor theme park. It was very cold! There were not that many people for a Saturday night, but I guess it was because it wasn’t a public holiday or anything like that.

We wanted to go on the Motion Master but the little boy was not allowed in as he didn’t meet the height requirement. My husband didn’t even want to try, so he agreed to take the little boy on a floating boat that goes around the theme park. That was about the only thing that my husband was willing to venture on as he is acrophobic.

The outdoor theme park was almost closing at that time, so the older kids didn’t get to go on the more adventurous rides. It was too cold anyway. The little boy was the one who went on the most rides, getting on and off the different cars and carousel. Habis satu round, “Nak naik lagi!” Habis yang tu, “Nak lagi...!” Layan je lah…

We had dinner at one of the food courts. Be prepared to spend as food is quite expensive up there. RM13 for kuey tiaw goreng, RM12.50 for nasi lemak. Coming from a food court, I think it is expensive.

Ice cream, yang kat bawah ni jual RM1 per scoop, up there is RM5 per scoop! But since we don’t go to Genting often, I bought ice creams and let the kids eat them in the cold. I used to do this in winter when I was studying in the UK. Best! Mulut berasap je lepas tu, macam naga!

It was almost 12 midnight when we were ready to go home. But not before buying a cup of latte from Starbucks @ First World to drink in the car. Ahhh… coffee in the cold is definitely heavenly!

We reached home just before 1 am. No one complained, everyone seemed happy and I'm glad we made that trip.

You should try it too one of these days. It’s only 45 minutes to go up (if you lived in Ampang lah..), it’s cold, and there are a lot of things to do. Forget the rides… just walking around the place is sufficient to make you feel good.

If you’re worried about driving up, don’t be. The road is quite safe and not steep. Hey, I’ve driven up there in my Kancil before, ok? I’m sure you can do it too!

Take care!

With Nadim infront of First World Hotel

Nabila and Risna (the new maid)

The Flying Coaster (sadly, tak dapat naik because it was near closing time)

The Rio Float

Nizzar & Mummy on the carousel

Red car!

Blue car!

After buying coffee @ Starbucks

Last shot before driving down..

Friday, January 08, 2010

Childhood Memories

I was just reading K.Teh’s posting on the passing of her friend M. She had cancer. How sad… it must be sad for her to lose someone dear like that. They were primary school friends and have been friends for a long, long time. Al-Fatehah for her, may she rests in peace...

I remember once I wrote a piece about a friend who’s attending a reunion with his primary school friends and I was thinking, “Who the heck have reunions with primary school friends?!”. I thought the guy was pulling my leg because I was not in contact with any of my primary school friends.

Then K.Teh cleared my doubts by saying that she has reunions with her primary school friends ALL the time, so did her husband. That got me thinking. Perhaps that guy did go to his primary school friends’ reunion after all..

In my case, I had no clue where my primary school friends were. I left the school in 1980 for a boarding school in JB and had never returned because a few years after that, my parents moved to Ipoh.

I thought about my primary school friends all the time, but I just didn’t know how to find them, until recently, thanks to FB, I've managed to locate some of them. And I'm so thrilled!

I was so happy to see photos of some of my childhood friends whom I haven't seen in 30 years. Of course, semua dah "blossomed", but in my mind, they are still the 12 year old friends whom I used to hang out with when I was small.

And this, brings back the memories of my childhood days which I'd like to pen down here.

When I was small, I grew up in a small town called Parit, Perak. It’s about 20 miles from Ipoh and is located next to the Perak River.

My parents were teachers, and because of that, we got to live in a house in the school compound. There were two schools in the area, ie. Sekolah Iskandar Shah and Sekolah Kebangsaan. My mum taught in the former while my dad taught in the latter. I went to my mum’s school.

In school, I was more well known as “Anak Cikgu Johara”. My mum was a very garang teacher. I had the privilege (or was it pain?) of having her as my class teacher when I was in Std 2 and 6.

Oh my… the pressure! Kalau tak siap homework, sure kena; kalau tak dapat no. 1, lagilah kena! My friends kena rotan, I pun kena rotan jugak in class (even worse, kata some of my friends!)

I remember there was one time, I didn’t do my homework over the weekend. It just slipped my mind. So, come Monday, when cikgu Johara tanya mana homework, I had to say I tak buat lah, kan? I was in Std 2 at that time.

And she got so angry! She stared at me, pointed her index finger at me and said, “Balik karang siap lah!!”.

Aiyo… I had never been so scared before in my life! I remember standing behind my desk, in the middle of the class, looking at her fierce face. It felt as if she was going to eat me alive! Everybody else had their heads down becoz cikgu Johara dah naik angin! Semua tak berani angkat muka! Bila balik rumah, memanglah kena!

I don’t understand my mum, give mercy lah sikit, kan? And I pun, tak faham why I didn’t do the homework knowing that my mother would surely beat the heck of me if she knew I tak buat homework. And why didn’t she remind me??

Another time was after the exams. Every time after the exam and when she had given out all the marks, she would list down all the students marks on the blackboard. From the highest to the lowest, and she must make sure that my marks always stayed on top, ie. No. 1. If markah turun sikit, she would give me the stare and I would be under pressure.

Why lah mak… chill lah! Dia pulak yang tension bila I exam. And because of that, I pulak yang jadi stress!

Hee.. hee.. that was my mum for you!

But until today, all her students still remember her fondly. They would call her up once in a while asking how she’s doing and visit her at home whenever they feel like it. They say, she was garang but sayang murid2. Anyway, she has mellowed down a lot now. Most times when she’s angry, she would just break down and cry. No more libas melibas macam dulu!

As for my dad, he was a very cool cikgu sekolah melayu. If you watched cerita P.Ramlee “Masam-Masam Manis”, my dad was just like that Cikgu Shaari in the movie. Bila masuk kelas, he would say, “Murid2, bukak buku… Tulis ini…”. Then he would write a one or two liner on the blackboard and asked the kids to copy. And he would go on and do other things. How I know this is because I had attended some of his classes before (anak cikgu, kan? Boleh masuk mana2 sekolah sesuka hati!)

Ahh… those childhood days…

My mum told me she met my dad when they were teaching in the same school, ie. Sekolah Tanjung Blanja. To get to that school, one has to take a boat/sampan to cross the Perak river. I remember this because I used to follow my mum to that school when she was still teaching there.

The story goes, at that time, my dad baru putus tunang (dengan siapa I tak tahu) and he was mending a broken heart. During recess, my mum always found him sitting alone by the river entertaining his thoughts. And she used to tease him. Usik mengusik punya pasal, lama2 suka, I guess.

They used to write letters to each other. I found some of them at my opah’s house, where my dad used to live. I think I picked up my writing habit from my mum. Their letters were full of pining for each other, and I think this was before they got married. Every time I visited my opah’s house in those days, I would surely lock myself in that room and read those lovely letters from my mum to my dad. I should have kept them, I don’t know where they are now…

Btw, my mum calls my dad “Sir” (as in Sir Elton John). I don’t know why.. until now.

My friends from school are aplenty. But the ones I remember most are Nani, Shera, Ramni, Yuliza, Mawar, Haslinda and Jamilah. Jamilah ni suka cari gaduh, she was very well known for that. When we lawan balik, she’d say, “Nanti kita beritau abang kita!” Ek eleh.. beritau lah… tak takut pun!

Nani and Shera lived near my house. We were the so-called Charlie’s Angels of our time! Every evening, we would ride our bicycles around the football field near my house and boys would be trailing us behind. But we were not interested. Our favorite pastime at that time was to update our scrapbooks with pictures of Farrah Fawcett and Bionic Woman and Six Million Dollar Man which we cut out from magazines/newspapers.

Oh, and we so loved Donny & Marie! During one of the Hari Penyampaian Hadiah, we did a dance routine with the song “That’s The Way Ahak, Ahak, I like it ahak, ahak.. “, wearing Donny & Marie T-shirts and bellbottom pants! Cool!

And this was also the time when I used to exchange letters with one of the boys in my class. Entahlah, masa dulu suka sangat main tulis2 surat! Bukan ada benda pun, saja bertanya khabar. Very innocent, ok?

We would write to each other and in the evening, when we went on our bicycle rides with our respective friends, we would meet half way and “swapped” letters while we were still on our bikes. Much like passing the baton in a relay.

That was going on for quite some time and I was enjoying my first introduction to writing love letters when one unfortunate day, my mum discovered his letters under my bed! Oh dear! She tarik my telinga and screamed, “Ohh… kecik2 lagi dah pandai nak bercinta, ya?!!”

But the worst was yet to come. The next day, she called the boy to the staff room and gave him a long lecture in front of all the other teachers! Poor boy… I felt sorry for him!

I remember seeing him standing in the staff room with his head down while my mum was going on and on about why he shouldn’t indulge in such things. Soon after, he was transferred to another school in Ipoh.

That explains why my friends and I used to call my mum “Harimau Berantai”.

I don't usually like to write about my childhood because it brings pain in my heart. Partly because my mother was so garang, but most often than not, the memories are just rather vague.

But eversince I found these old friends on FB, I've been reminiscing about those yester years with a smile on my face. I remember my class, I remember my friends, the things we used to do, the games we used to play...

Life was so simple then and it was all about friends.

On this 24th January, I'm going to meet up with my primary school friends after a 30-year lapse. It's sort of a mini-reunion, so to speak, as we haven't located everyone yet. I'm so excited! I can't wait! Thoughts of meeting up with Nani and Shera bring joy to my heart and I'm sure we'll have a great time.

Of course, the love-letter boy is going to be there as well. We've spoken and he's now a very happy family man with two boys in tow. In my mind, I still picture him as how he was when he was 12, but obviously he is not anymore. I'm sure he thinks of me the same way too, but that's not important.

What's important for me is, I'll get to rekindle that long, lost friendship, not only with him, but with the rest of the gang as well, and that would be simply wonderful.

Will keep you posted!

Pekan Parit, if you were coming from Ipoh

Right at the end, where the trees are, is the river. You take the boat from here to go across to Tanjung Blanja

The shophouses

In the olden days, there were not that many cars..

The road leading up to my school

Perak River. Right across is the school where my mum first met my dad.

Ironically, the bridge is known as "Jambatan Nordin".

(Note: photos courtesy of http://www.panoramio.com/)