Friday 3 July 2015

Mamat Karim : 1955 to 1962

1955 to 1962

Farewell to Abdul Karim bin Abdul Latiff (Dr.)

In 1955, I sat for my Std. 6 exam. When the results were out, everyone stood around the school notice board to see which secondary school we would be attending come January 1956. The schools were No.1 the elite Victoria Institution, followed by Maxwell Road School, and High Street School (or the loafers’ school). Of course I searched diligently for my name on the VI list (but inside me, I knew my name will not appear). It appeared in the list for High Street School.

What are the best memories I have for High Street School?. The headmaster was Mr. De Souza. He had a perpetual twitch on the right side of his face. We had a science teacher whose head was always looking upwards to the sky. Students had a nickname for him in Cantonese “Mong Tin Loh”. Then there was this classmate named Yakop Khan. The Indian boys used to call out whenever he was within range with “Tadiaadi, Tadiaapon”, and he would chased them. I too got into the act and when he got hold of me, I received a few knocks on my head as compliment. To this day, I still don’t know what that meant. There was a Singh (Jaswat) who had scraggy beard and earned the moniker “Fungus”. But worse of the lot was this Malay boy, Ghani. He had this horrible habit of putting his finger up his back and if you are the unlucky fellow standing nearby, he would brush his finger against your nose. That resulted in a number of fisticuffs.

When I was in Form 3, we moved to Serendah, an outpost north of Rawang. Further north one will be in Kuala Kubu, which borders the state of Selangor and Perak. The Selangor Boys Home was a place where parents send their sons when they could not afford to sustain them at home. It was also a place where delinquents were offloaded by the various authorities. On her appointment as an Assistant Matron, the family up staked from Jalan Klang Lama to this joint. During the late 60’s there were no highways, and the road leading to Rawang was just a two lane country road, hardly lighted by lampposts at night. The road was twisting and climbing uphill, past Templar’s Park. There was a school bus, but it was for the Chung Hwa Chinese School students in Jalan Conlay in Kuala Lumpur (today’s Stock Exchange Complex). It came very early at the bus stand in front of the Boys Home. School begins at 8am those days. The bus arrives in KL at almost 8am. I had to run all the way from the Telecoms HQ to High Street. Needless to say, I was always late for school. Finally, it was decided that I stay with grandma in Kampong Kasipillay.

Ahmad Jamal and Nenal was staying there. That was the beginning of a close rapport with my cousins which included the late Yatim and Chu’s nephew from Singapore, Hamdan. Yatim passed away a few years back due to health complications. I do not know whether Hamdan is still around since I had lost contact with him for ages. To this day, I refer us as the last of the Mohican's.

It was here that one day, Pak Adek told me to go to his house and collect his bicycle. I was ecstatic. Ahmad and Nal had bicycles and now I too had one. Cycling to school was an adventure. So much so that I started cutting classes and going to the cinemas with my friends. The cheap seats were 40 cts. But once the picture started screening, we would walk upstairs and creep into the 1st class seats. Of course we were caught a few times and sent packing. But it was fun.

High Street School was also where I had my first smoke. The favourite brand with students was Matterhorn. I had done a lot of nonsense during my youth and my motto was “don’t get caught”. I can say that today with a smile, but one always falls back to the ground, if not today, probably tomorrow. Kids, if you read this, do only the good things, okay! Time is fleeting.

My father died in General Hospital. I had just started working for 2 months. I just could not recall the both of us having an extended conversation. Maybe the time to know each other was too short. Anyway, that is water under the bridge. His brothers took him to Pak Ngah’s house in Jalan Kia Peng, and was buried at the Jalan Ampang.

for more stories of Mamat Karim please click here.

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