Remembering our Teachers
19th October 2002
Visit to see 2 teachers, Cikgu Manap and Mr Madhadevan. Some managed to squeeze in time to the Campur Stall. It was reported that Lulu still remembers that there were still outstanding bills owed by a certain individual. Cikgu is now residing in Kampong Ismail, Ampangan. He and his wife prepared a whole spread of kuehs and noodles for his students. We were too full to stuff our faces as we were feasting beef noodle in the market when Benjamin Yeoh also joined us. Cikgu joined ACS in 1968 and taught most of us in Form 2. He remembers even many names as we were his first batch of student in ACS. He claimed that those years when he taught us were some of his best times in ACS. Cikgu had a stroke some years back and walks with a slight limp but besides that is still looking good and healthy.
Mr Mahadevan is still driving around in his trust Volkswagon and still residing in Bukit Rasah. He still lectures and visits his daughter in the States occasionally. Thanks to Mei Ling, most of the Seremban-based ladies were able to join us. We had meal in Restaurant Stainless Steel that used to be the haunt of our famous Milo Bar where many of us went for tea dances on Sunday afternoons. The evening ended early for some, but not for those who kept late nights. Tiew Seng kept tempting us with bottles of brandy he stores in his car, so we joined him at the Food Street Restaurant where Foo Chee Keong tasted his first cigar. Can't remember, was this the trip that Casey had the photo of Sze Poh's departed sister staring at him the whole night??
This event took place almost two years ago, so let me give you my version. Angie is merely reporting and she never would have the suspense of a cliffhanger.
Firstly, I cannot for the love of life remember anything about Cikgu. So when I was dragged along for this visit, I went because I heard my two other fantasies, Phooi Fun and Moi Fun would be there. That darn cat, Angie, deceived me wholesale. She dangled me a preposterous incentive by saying that the two ‘funs’ could be deceived--in her own words, “to eat out of your hands, Casey.”
I have had the pleasure to bump into these two lovely damsels only after 30 years, so I crawled along to Cikgu’s house for a second look. I wanted to confirm that my eyes did not play a trick on me at the Reunion of August 2002; way then, we were so pissed drunk, even a dried ‘belacan’ could look like Kate Beckingsale.
Moi Fun did a Houdini and never turned up. But I got to see pale faced beauty, Phooi Fun, so the trip was not a total disaster. I even managed to get a hug from my childhood fantasy and that’s something like 40 years overdue. When you know all you are going to get is one lousy hug in 40 years, you hug tight and long, baby! Needless to say, Wing Kwong was quietly envious, but honestly speaking, Phooi Fun won’t, and could not possibly be his type. It would be improbable for Poison Ivy to muddle around a passive orchid, I thought. By this, I meant Phooi Fun is the Poison Ivy of course, who else?
The highlight of the afternoon was when everybody started looking at me as if I were diseased or something. It had something to do with my poor Malay, having gotten an F9 in Form Five.
It started this way: contrary to my poor memory, Cikgu in fact remembered me and told everyone present how good a student I was. To save face—I was such a bad Malay student with an F9--I replied,“ No Cikgu, you only joking. Stop before I konket you!” At that moment, the whole room broke into a subdued snigger of an odd sort. I have heard the word ‘konket’ innumerable times before from my previous Malay ‘Ahmad’ whenever a car overtook him, but I had always thought it meant, “to knock your brains out.” I thought it was a lighthearted swear word and had no idea it meant anything worse. So for the ACS history books, the visit will best be remembered as Sze Tho having “f” his cikgu because he received an F9 for Malay.
Cikgu of course was very evasive and gentlemanly about the whole thing. He just turned and looked in the direction of the Mosque right across his house. You don’t suppose he knows how to use a mouse and go into this website to read about this, would you?
I think a day later, we went to Mrs. Gunaratnam house. This time, Moi Fun was there. That made the pent-up lizard below wagged a little; I even managed to top the evening by snuggling real close to her for a photo shot. After 30 years or so, cheap thrills are still necessary for an old dog like me.
By late evening, my passion for anything had died down and I was getting tired of pretending to be friendly. Things were beginning to look real boring. Mrs. Gunaratnam saw me almost falling asleep, so she woke me by throwing me a recent photo album.
“Taken recently,” she said.
The photo album held another dark secret, for in it were photographs of Adeline Gunaratnam, another of my childhood fantasy. The last time I saw her must be in her house near Melaka some 35 years ago. That woman still has eyes like peeled ‘longans’ and they can still grab you like a mousetrap. Caught in her mousetrap there and then, I immediately lost all memory of the other two yellow skinned beauties. Black is not beautiful for nothing.
“She is a dentist and she is now practicing in London,” mentioned a genial Mrs. Gunaratnam.
My immediate response was: “ Do you think my teeth are ok? Mrs. Gunaratnam?”
Our last trip was to Mr. Mahadevan’s house. He was a gracious host and we ate and drank in the balcony of a house I would very much like to retire in. On leaving, I thought I must have stunned him when I asked: “ Mr Mahadevan, when you immigrated to Australia, we gave you a present. What are you doing back here? I want my share of the present back!”
He turned to me surprisingly and said, “ Left for Australia? Can’t remember that. Honey, did we go to Australia?”
I left. I now understand what old age would be like one day.
Casey Sze Tho