The year of 1996 past by in a blink of an eye [at least for me]. I was entering my youth [14 years of age] and it was the craziest of youth. The camaraderie that I had developed in the previous year among my good friends of Argon 1 (my class name for form 1) and few selected senior (one year older) were carried forward to the year 1997. That year  will always be remembered as the craziest, challenging, and adventerous year of my youth. Siti Nurhaliza was on the rise with her Cindai song and everybody was singing out of tune with her song and Malaysian was fast forwarded to the year 2020 through Dr. Mahathir Vision 2020.
I was still feeling a bit sad of staying away from my family. Personally I can’t stand being somewhere so far away [Muadzam Shah was a secluded place], and I keep counting days for me to be transfer to a much better civilized place or somewhere near Kota Bharu [near to my grandparents in Kelantan]. That year was wholly new for me and I was put into a room with a new roommate Rohazlee Hashim [still is a good friend of mine till today].
You can tell a lot the young Rohazlee Hashim. He was actually one year older than me [born in 1982], but were admitted to our college [we called MRSM as Mara Junior Science College or MJSC] one year lag behind. He was the son of a wealthy diplomat and on his first year of admission he could only talk scantily in the Malay language. I never took any attention to this new roommate of mine as his background were very different compared to me. But I guess our friendships in the previous year were seen as a good understanding for both of us that lead to our decision of sharing a room in 1997.
In 1996 I developed a very close friendship with Hijaz and in 2001, we meet again at the matriculation college in KPM-PTPL Shah Alam. There were 4 beds allocated for one room for our new building block. It was still a new dormitory block and we were the first to use it. Came February 1997, we got a whole load of new students or freshies [that we called it]. They were the batch of 1/1997 just registered in and two of the new junior students were put into our room [our dormitory teacher allocated each room to have two senior and two junior students, while some of the naughty boy were put with the previous batch of 1/ 1996 that are going to face PMR that year -1997]. If I'm not mistaken our room number were 107. I could tell you that it was Rohazlee’s traits of his personal cleanliness that make we really love to be together in one room and his high discipline for tidiness ensured our room to be granted as the cleanliest room almost every month.
Me (wearing white Kopiah and glasses) and my junior roomate - He is Datuk Maznah (Pahang Iron Lady) second son (Ridzwan)
The year 1997 witnessed as the most troubled time for me understanding my youth and the words responsibility. I was still suffering from an acute homesick. I keep asking myself, what did I do to be put someplace very far from my family. Or perhaps the town of Muadzam Shah itself were a pressure for me in looking to my senses. I bet in 1997, people doesn’t know anything about Muadzam Shah [today some still is]. It was totally an alien place for me.
On our first year there, we were so much attracted to one lake near our college and after the evening market, me, and some friends would find ourselves to visit it. I still remember the helicopter, cars, and motor bike replica that really attracted us for some fun. Sometimes our family would stay at Ridan’s Inn every time they came to visit us [the only lodging place you could find in Muadzam Shah]. I still remember the view of dead pigs that were hit by fast moving vehicles from Kuantan to Rompin using the only road to Rompin at the back of our school near the football field [the place that I would have my silat lesson].
Living your life as a young student in MRSM MZMS in 1997, we have to wake up early in the morning around 5.30 am or 6.00 am for Subuh prayers. It was a chilling cold experience [Muadzam Shah was in the middle of green forest and you could see clouds of mist in the early morning]. I could tell you that we were very much still in our dreams when we perform our Subuh prayers at the Musolla. There are also sometimes that I overslept and usually didn't go for Subuh prayers. Usually I did it [accidentally] alone and sometimes me, Rohazlee and the two juniors. If such happen, our dormitory teacher would whip our thigh two times. The whipping is not the one that scared us, but the embarrassment that we felt when our dormitory teachers announced our name during the assembly especially that announcement were listened to the girls that haunted us the most.
The morning breakfast was a nightmare for us. Most of the time I skipped my breakfast for morning shower. We usually had 30 minutes from the end of Subuh lectures to our school hour. If we late for shower then we will find ourselves in line waiting for our turn at the shower room. I could still see the green tiles of the shower room. Luckily in our second year we were given new building blocks, and the shower room were still new. On weekdays, we had to take turn [by room] to clean the shower room. Once a month, two or three room [and its mates] would be assigned to clean the shower room. There are also assignments for each room every morning for the task of Subuh azan, and to wake up every student at 6.00 am.
Me and my good buddy - Khir Asah
We would wait for Saturday to come every week. On Saturday, in Muadzam Shah town, there will be a weekly market. That’s the only place for me to find some form of civilization and escapade from my torturous time studying inside the compound of our college. My parents would send me some pocket money every month. The amount is not much, and sometimes not even enough for me to buy stencil and note books for my studies. But somehow I manage it. I usually went to the weekly market with my good friends Khir, Rohazlee or Rahmat. Living in MRSM, we would form our own click/ close friends. We would do things together. Usually in Saturday before we went to the weekly market, I would go to the Ridan store (one of two bookstores in Muadzam Shah town, even though the other one was also a branch of Ridan Store – located near BSN). Khir would find his favourite comic while me and Rahmat were just happy to be outside our college compound watching peoples coming in an out of the bookstores.
Apart from studying, I was up and coming in the year 1997. I was being looked upon especially on my oratorical ability. My Bahasa Malaysia teacher by the name Shamsuri Mahat was training me for debates, and oratorical competition to represent my college. My first year participation in the story telling contest have indeed put me into a bright light of debates oratory skills. I kept representing my schools for debates and curriculum activities. Some of the times I won trophies for my school, but usually you’ll never knew how great you’re until today the day came and you reckons that you’re doing not bad for your college. I would say that I’m proud to have given much for my school.
Me at Ridan Inn
I did mention that in the year 1997, I was very close to Khir Asah. He was really a very good friend of mine. He loves to read comic book and his favourites were “The Dewata Raya”. He took a great care of those comic and keeps it from volume 1 - 100. Most of the time I would find myself reading his comic books especially in the evening when we skipped our evening sports. Both of us hate evening sports (riadah), and we would find ourselves together and loitering behind our dorm. Most of the game courts [Volleyball and Badminton/ Sepak Takraw] were used by the senior students or some of the hard headed friends of us don’t really like to share the court when they played games with their click members.
But that doesn’t really matter to us, thus we would enjoy the evening breeze of small hills behind our college overlooking the road going to Kuantan. It releases us from studying tension. Khir Asah came from Felda Keratong located about 10 miles from Muadzam Shah town. He was very good in Mathematics and was my usual math teacher (I was never good in Mathematics in 1997). Most of the time when both of us went to the school library, I would only concentrate to study Science subject or would find myself reading books about John F. Kennedy, while Khir would practice his Math skills. He was a genius with figures and calculations.
But my break of my studies came with the subject of science. I would find my name at the top ranking of Science monthly/ semester test. I never knew why I love science subject so much. Perhaps I was very good in remembering facts and love to read, I don’t even know that when I read something I would remember the facts without even re-phrasing it many times. Even though I was regarded as a good competitive partners in the subject of science, but still my Math disappoint me. I dislike and shunned doing my Math homework and most of the time I will be whipped, punished or humiliated among my classmate by my math teacher for unable to complete my Math homework. Most of the time Khir will help me with my homework on math but many times I would copy Khir mathematics homework’s.
Meanwhile Rohazlee was very busy as a school prefect and later in 1997, he was appointed as the head of school prefect [we also call it as Lembaga Disiplin Pelajar – LDP]. Most of the time, I wouldn’t bugger him and would only discuss things or talk to him when lights off [mandatory to switch off the light at 12.00 pm]. He was a great friend, much updated and very smart. He was very committed in his new task as the head of school prefect. But I guess he did his work too diligently thus precipitated someone to piss in his shoes. The good part about Rohazlee is that he never took it personal and regards the incidents as a naughty one and immature. I learned a lot from this guy who once resided in Brazil but born in Japan.
Somebody however registered a form for me to contend in the 1997 student representatives’ election i.e. student leaders. I would never know who the one that fill up the form and where the hell did they got my photograph for the registration to be completed. But I believe whoever the person might be; honestly they did in believing of my personal capabilities as a student leader. However I was not so interested to be a student leader that year and I didn’t have any posters or went campaigning. But I won the election as second highest elected candidates out of 13 candidates. I didn’t take the job as the student representatives though and that was the most stupidest and regrettable decision I have ever did in my entire life. Some people say that I was disappointed that I came second (you could say that), but part of it, I’m really not interested for the job.
I was nevertheless appointed as the head of school librarian – the so called media branch by Cikgu Shamsuri. My responsibilities consist of taking photographs of school activities coordinate any activities pertaining to media publishing, newsletter of latest current news of Malaysia and also preparing details on first school magazine. Cikgu Shamsuri names it [the school annual magazine] as Memoir. There was a picture of me on the front cover of Memoir 1996. Frankly, Cikgu Shamsuri put the photo of me out of my knowledge. All the students that were framed in the front cover of Memoir 1996 got 8A's in their PMR either in 1997 (senior students) or 1998. You can tell a lot about Cikgu Shamsuri from that first edition of Memoir 1996. He was really a great teacher and still is for me as I begun to realize on his prediction about me and the wisdom behind his teaching now.
For me the year 1997 was the craziest year in my teenage time. I was very active and involved in a lot of schools associations. Ranging from English Language Association to Silat and to Science club, I was in all angles of curriculum participation. The only thing I'm not good at was sports. During my sports hour [every evening from 4.30 to 6.00 pm], I would make a lot of excuses just to evade sports. I remember one of our PT teachers would teach us Sepak Takraw and Volleyball. I'm not so much interested in Sepak Takraw, but Volleyball is a whole different game for me. It was really exciting to play. Most of the time the court (only two courts in MRSM MZMS that time) would be fully booked by either of the active boys [some were naughty students too] or the seniors. No way will they give some space for us to join in. We were a different click compared to them.
Its not that I don't like sports at all, but the truth is I don't have a sports shoes to wear for my sports activities. Most of the time, I would evade sports activities so that I don't have to run or do PTs using my formal shoes [it was either leather or plastic material and when I’ve run in it, it would develop inflammation to my feet]. Plus I'm very embarrassed at the times when I do have to wear my formal shoes for sports activities [in MRMS there was a physical test which requires students to do certain sports activities]. My parents at that time couldn't afford to buy me a reliable sports shoe which furthers my embarrassment especially when a girl of my class looks down on me.
But my limitation on sports activities does not shut me taking an active part in representing my school for other curriculum activities. I won third place for my debate competition that was held at the one religion school located at the outskirt of Muadzam Shah town. That competition was sponsored by Sawira [one of Palm oil Company operating in Muadzam Shah]. There was one moment in 1997 that I still remember, one day I went out to the nearest bank in Muadzam Shah. It was Bank Simpanan Nasional [BSN]. During that time there were only two banks in Muadzam Shah town [the other was Bank Bumiputera].
My parents can be put as categorically poor and my father would debit RM 30.00 every month in my BSN account for my other expenses. My father was relying on my free meals six times a day at the school to limit his expenses on me. On that particular day in 1997 when I went to the bank to withdraw my money from the ATM machine, I found out that my father hasn’t debit any money which disappoint me later that I couldn't buy the necessary stencil equipment for my school work. But to my unconsciousness, somebody was watching at me and I guess it left a picture in him that I was really in need for the money.
As I was walking back slowly to the school thinking about the stencil that I couldn’t buy a car then stop by beside the pavement near me and that particular man that was watching me at the bank stopped me and gave me RM 30.00. I was startled and he told me to study hard and don’t worry about it. After thanking and waving him goodbye, later one lady that was working nearby asked me what happened. After she finds out then she told me that, that man was the Penghulu of Muadzam Shah. I still remember that man chivalries till this day and God bless that man.
One of the best memories when I was in my second year in MRSM MZMS was that the uprising of the mangga culture of Tamiya - Dash Yonkuro. In that year, I could tell you that most of the MRSM MZMS boys were crazy about playing Tamiya. You could find every drain at the school hostel were clean because the boy would use the drain as their race circuit for their Tamiya/ Audley. Rohazlee too were crazy about Tamiya. He had this upgraded motor engine version for the Tamiya and usually he would lend the motor engine friends that want to race among others. Most of them would find out the hard way when at the end of the day, their locally built Tamiya (Audley) would melt due to the heat emitted by the Rohazlee's upgraded motor engine. We had a good time that particular time and our dormitory teacher himself would be happy himself due to the cleanliness of school drain.
The thing which I can’t forget is that in 1997 at the MRSM MZMS, we as very young teenagers were very much fascinated and influenced extremely by the Islamic teaching. Most of the boys would learn to wear serban (Arab's head wear) or kopiah to get respect by their peers. We would spend most of our free time talking about Islamic scholars and the past Islamic civilization and about the greatness of Islamic scholars’ such as Al-Khindi, Avicenna and et cetera. The students would listen to the nasyid song and there are competition of nasyid among the students was held from time to time. Sometimes our school representatives would win the nasyid competition held outside among other schools nearby Kuantan / Muadzam Shah or Keratong.
The most boring time for us would be during weekends especially Sunday morning, thus we had nothing to do except washing our clothes, and talking about all sorts of things and eating instant noodles. I develop a good friendship with my non-Muslim friends. They were indigenous people [Orang Asli]. One of them was Rahmat. Rahmat is a very nice friend and most of the time we would find our close circles (Khir Asah, Rahmat and me) loitering at the back of the school dormitory evading prep time or evening sports. We would talk about everything and sometimes listening to my illegal radios that I bought at the price of [RM 15.00]. We were forbidden to bring any walkman or radio during our time at MRSM MZMS in 1997. But no matter how bad it was, we really had a good time that year.
Me and the beautiful teacher Erema
On my academics, I wasn't doing very well in 1997. I can say that my CGPA were an average among 2.9 - 3.35. I'm not very much happy with my CGPA and only my Bahasa Malaysia subject and Science subject helped me in my CGPA. I was doing very badly in my mathematics (C+ and B-). By the end of 1997, we welcomed our new English teacher. Her name was Teacher Erema. She was very beautiful lady and a graduate from United Kingdom. She was one of the major factors in my life, not only she lifted my interest in English subject but also she shed some lights on what I can do in my life too.
To be continued...