On 4th. January 2010, I accompanied my first grandson, Faiq, to his school - Sekolah Kebangsaan Bandar Seri Putera (BSP), Bangi. It was his first day at school! Faiq's dad had something urgent to attend to and his mum was not that well. So "Tok Wan" had to make a trip to BSP, about 10km away, to attend to Faiq's needs. Really glad to be able to do that.
Together with Faiq that afternoon were about 300 other Year One pupils, some looking happy, some anxious, and I could see two crying! All of them assembled at one of the school halls for a briefing by the teachers. And their curious parents took the liberty to listen to the briefing as well! After several pleas by the teachers, however, these "emak-bapak" (parents) finally moved out of the hall, letting the teachers to proceed with the briefing without any interference.
I sat down at the school canteen where most of the parents were seated. Some parents, I noted, were flocking at all the hall entrants. Some were lingering around the hall, taking a peep once a while at their children. There were obviously anxious to see whether their loved ones were really okey!
I was smiling to myself, thinking how lucky Faiq was, to have the opportunity to enter a "sekolah pekan" (urban school). To be in such a well-equipped, beautiful brand-new school. To have better trained and more specialized teachers. To be driven to school that's hardly a kilometer away. To wear nice clothings ... to own a beautiful bag that has special compartments for his "air sirap" and sandwiches, etc., etc.
But did I regret not having all those good things during my time? Definitely no! I didn't even realize then that I was deprived of those good things in life. I was just like the rest of the kampung boys and girls. I know that I used to have things that Faiq doesn't have now. For example "papan batu"! And having "kepala gondol" while saving the money that was supposed to be paid to the barber! I too used to have things that Faiq now has, although they were quite "different". For example, a big hand-sewn handkerchief and later, a rattan basket, to place my exercise books! But these things were good enough at that time.
..... I wouldn't remember what my first day at school was like. But I can never forget that my class, and another group of "Standard 1" pupils, were placed in the "sekolah cawangan" (branch school). The "main" school building was about 0.25km away. The sekolah cawangan had "nibung" and "mangrove wood" pillars, planted into the ground to support its "atap" roof. It also had a 3 ft high fragile wooden walls, and natural earth flooring! We had wooden chairs and tables, each set was made to accomodate either two or three persons. There was no piped water . No electricity. This sekolah cawangan had no canteen too. We had to depend on home-made "nasi bungkus" or "nasi lemak" (5 cents/packet) sold by a "mak cik" nearby. I had to walk to school, about 5 km away. The earth path would become very muddy during the rainy season. Sob ... sob .....
At Faiq's school, I stayed until the kids had their recess. Most of the parents too had and enjoyed their "half-time"! These "emak-bapak", together with their children, turned the canteen into a very crowded picnic ground. I was really amused to see them enjoying the food that they had brought from home or bought from the canteen. A large number of the "freshies", unfortunately, couldn't get any seat to really enjoy their 1st recess meal.
I left the school as soon as Faiq got back to his classroom. I returned to the school in the evening to fetch him. This time, Faiq's grandma (Tok Umi, my other half) also came along. Of course Faiq was excited to have both his Tok Wan and Tok Umi take him home from his "first day at school"!