Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Back to Memory Lane

This is something I've been meaning to post for months since we got back, but as usual, kids take up all your time. Something I was keen to do the last trip back to Malaysia was to show my kids places their dad went to. And so, one morning, we drove to my old kindergarten with Allison (Ava was too young, so we left her with grandparents). The headmistress was kind enough to let us visit, though having a kwaipoh roam the yard was somewhat disruptive to the kids having classes methinks!
Being in preschool now, Alli had some inkling to what kindergarten was. However, with how different the systems are between the USA and Malaysia, I think she found it hard to fathom (my wife too, I think). The huge class sizes. The relatively spartan conditions. The dirty toilets, with the squatting potty, no less.
For me, it was certainly a trip back to memory lane. It is the same building, at the same location I went to 30 years ago (WTF??? Really, 30 years???). And though the memories are mostly long gone, I do remember much.
Like where my classroom was (yellow class, with Ms. Janet as our teacher). I remember where the toilet was, and how even then, I hated to take a dump outside of home (I remember the day when I did have to take a dump and my kindergarten sweetheart Salina happened to walk in on me!). I remember Sports Day; I think I won a price in the tube race. I remember the biscuits they used to serve at break time- I loved those chocolate wafers (to my delight I can find them here) and those pea-sized biscuits with the sugar frosting on top. I remember the ?ivy plant in the back, and how we used to pluck the leaves and stick it to our forearms. I remember the concert night (or whatever they called it, but I remember it as the concert). When we all dressed up and performed on stage; I remember dad buying me and Hon Hui a bottle of Yeos strawberry drink. And I remember the damn lipstick they put on me for the performance!
Anyone find me?
But perhaps my fondest memory, now that I'm a dad, is my Ah Kong. I used to be the most homesick kid in the world. I had screaming, howling, crying escapades whenever my parents dropped me off (actually carried on until Standard 1!). Anyway, after some unsuccessful drop-offs, they got desperate, and finally talked my grand-dad into coming to kindergarten with me.
As in, staying there the entire class! I remember how Ah Kong would sit on the bed outside my classroom while I was in class. That must have been for at least 4-6 hours each time? I remember how nervous I got whenever he stepped out of view.
I don't remember how long he had to do this, but it was certainly long enough that I remember this fondly.
(sidenote: Don't you think it's ironic that having been such a homesick boy, I ended up settling down farthest from Malaysia amongst my siblings?)
Yes, Alli and Ava will have their own experiences here in the USA, experiences that will be foreign to me still. But I'm glad I was able to take her there for a visit.