Dau

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. This year, I’ll be writing about people, places and events that I encountered and experienced when I left home for the first time to live in a residential college for two years. I was 18. I’ve a book in the works about those significant and tumultuous two years but I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m hoping dredging up some memories and writing about them during this Challenge will push me further towards the finish line. With that, each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet in this theme. Enjoy!

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Among all the pictures I took during the two years at college, there’s a picture of Dau ironing a long, pleated, brown skirt she planned to wear to class the following day. I also have a picture of her holding the skirt in front of her, and striking a pose. She was quite a character. I can’t quite remember why I had my camera out and how I managed to get the picture. I do remember however that after I took that candid shot, I ended up chatting with her till quite late into the night, snacking on the cake I’d brought.

I met Dau during my first week at college. We were in the same team of juniors on a treasure hunt, one of the activities that the college had organised for incoming students during Induction Week. From the moment the teams were handed the clues for the treasure hunt, Dau took charge. Our team eventually finished in the top three. That first time I met her, I was totally in awe and extremely intimidated. She was tall, lithe, athletic and had a gravitas about her. She also totally rocked a pixie cut.

She was one of the popular juniors, most of the seniors knew her and she had more than her share of secret admirers. It wasn’t enough that she was statuesque but she was also adept at Taekwondo. She was friends with most everyone and always had a smile on her face. It would’ve been easy enough to hate her except that Dau, infuriatingly,  was one of those girls that guys wanted to be with, and girls wanted to be. More than once, I wished I could be her.

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Curfew

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. This year, I’ll be writing about people, places and events that I encountered and experienced when I left home for the first time to live in a residential college for two years. I was 18. I’ve a book in the works about those significant and tumultuous two years but I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m hoping dredging up some memories and writing about them during this Challenge will push me further towards the finish line. With that, each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet in this theme. Enjoy!

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It’s 11.10 pm. Twenty more minutes to curfew.

My roommates and I had just returned from the mamak, a roadside stall, about a slow 10 minute walk away. I had my regular supper of maggi goreng (fried instant noodles) and iced coffee.

11.15 pm.

We were milling around near the guardhouse, which was at the entrance of the small gate we entered that led to our hostel block. Other students were at the phone booths, making calls to family or loved ones. There were more students queuing up behind them, clutching coins or a fully loaded phone card. I would normally call my folks on Thursday nights, to tell them what time I would be home the following day.

11.25 pm.

Some students were already trekking back to their rooms, some nodding at the guard, Pak Guard, we called him, who was standing at the gate ready to usher the rest of us stragglers in before curfew.

My roommates and I were one of the last to go through the gate that night. As we climbed up the ramp to our floor, we heard the gate clanked shut. We were locked in for the night.

 

Birthdays

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. This year, I’ll be writing about people, places and events that I encountered and experienced when I left home for the first time to live in a residential college for two years. I was 18. I’ve a book in the works about those significant and tumultuous two years but I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m hoping dredging up some memories and writing about them during this Challenge will push me further towards the finish line. With that, each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet in this theme. Enjoy!

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It was May Leen’s birthday.

Like most birthdays we’ve celebrated here in college, among the new friends from far-flung states that we’ve made, there were:

  1. A big makan-makan (dinner) with the gang
  2. A public display of embarrassment affection when the gang erupts into a raucous, slightly out of tune birthday song (on purpose)
  3.  A birthday gift and card shared by at least 15 people (we were students with a student loan, so most gifts were shared)

We were in our room, she was getting read to open her gift from the guys. It was a cassette. She loaded it into the player of Felicia’s red radio, and pressed play. Then voices came on and we heard the guys wishing her a happy birthday, followed by the sounds the strumming of a guitar. Not many of the guys knew how to play the radio so we were trying to guess who were the guitar players. Probably Pey Haw or Cheese. Then they started singing Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight and us girls sighed in almost-unison.

May Leen looked to be in tears, it was such a thoughtful gift. The fact that the guys got together and probably practiced the song before recording it, we were nothing short of amazed.

I looked at my desk and saw my birthday gift among my textbooks, a book from the Chicken Soup from the Soul series signed by maybe ten people, remembered the card that came with it, a Get Well Soon card, and wished someone recorded a song for me on a cassette.

Aaron

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. This year, I’ll be writing about people, places and events that I encountered and experienced when I left home for the first time to live in a residential college for two years. I was 18. I’ve a book in the works about those significant and tumultuous two years but I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m hoping dredging up some memories and writing about them during this Challenge will push me further towards the finish line. With that, each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet in this theme. Enjoy!

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I remember driving up towards the college campus. I was in the back seat of my parent’s Pajero, clutching my backpack. I had another suitcase in the trunk of the car. It was mid-morning and I thought I’d be early but there were already many students and their family milling around the academic block, which was where we were supposed to register upon arrival.

As we drove past the academic block, looking for a spot to park in, I noticed a boy in a white dress shirt tucked into black pants. A woman, most likely his mother, was straightening his tie. The boy wore a bored and frustrated look on his face. I smiled to myself.

Later, I learnt the boy’s name was Aaron. He ended up my classmate for the next two years. I also learnt that he liked to tap his feet when he was figuring out problems and that he thought I was a strange creature.

He was my first love.