Sekolah bandar ada kipas! ( my school has ceiling fans!)

Wak Omar Tok Habib, a close relative became a teacher, a prestiguos position at a time when Malays were clerks, postmen and policemen.   Mak was particularly fond of him. When kak cik was going to sit for the equivalent of SPM Mak managed to convince him to give Kak Cik tuition.

I do not think he needed convincing nor fees. A young available bachelor teacher being presented with the opportunity to give tuition to 3 maidens kak cik and two friends Kak Lus and Kak Salmah.

In between tuition Wak  Omar would engage me ” later on you must go to a sekolah bandar. There are kipas in the classroom ” and I could not even visualize how a ceiling fan function or   looked like.

At the start of the new term in 1971, there I was  together with abah in the main hall of High School Batu Pahat to get myself registered. There was this air of an established institution, a big padang, a quite grand looking building  not the familiar long house  or rumah panjang building of post Merdeka school like Sekolah Semerah. Up a flight of stairs in the main building was a big hall where the administartion and Principal offices were. On the walls were plaques with long list of high achievers and head boys. We were quite lost  in this big hall waiting for the first soul to help us.  A  stern looking,  moustached ,Hitler style, Indian teacher appeared.

“master, master, boleh tolong saya…..” those were the words from abah. Yes he used the words master not cikgu or encik or Tuan. I found that unusual. The teacher turned out to be a mr Muthu  and with his help we sorted out the affairs of the day.

I was enrolled in Form 2 B 2, the 6th best class or the 6th worst in a 12 class system  depending on from which perspective you look at it. Looking back I think it was more of the later. To my frustration I discovered that Yong Yee Yen the friend from Semerah got into the best class 2A1 although he was second to me in Sekolah Semerah. I took it in my stride as part  my early lessons that the world does not have to be fair.

As for the tuition and Wak Omar, my sister managed to get third grade and so were the two friends. Kak Salmah and Kak Cik became clerks and Kak Lus married wak Omar the tutor. By then the Kipas was no longer a novelty to me, and the kampung boy still prefer the kolong of the big house then a brick classroom with a ceiling fan.


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