Friday, December 15, 1989

In Person: The Way We Were

by Linda Ho, Editor, Her World

Roger Tan, an old college friend, recently returned from London, and I knew he would stir things up a bit. He was our pre-U student representative at TAR College many years ago. 

Anyway, Roger rang up and asked whatever happened to our former college mates. Well! I was too guilty to admit that I had lost touch with them, giving the lame excuse of not writing unless it's paid for. The occupational hazard of a journalist-lah

"What about the phone?" he countered. "Oh yeah, the phone...," I replied, sounding as if I had just heard of this contraption. The result was that I agreed to help organise a reunion for UA3a and UA3b. 

The trouble with Roger is that he's extremely persuasive, and can persuade or intimidate anyone to do his bidding. I remember those days when he was campaigning for student representative; armed with his manifestoes and badges, with his devoted band of kakis in tow, rounded up poor souls like me to vote for him. He was a skinny lad those days, hungry for achievement and eager to learn. I'm happy to say he looks prosperous (real 'well-fed'), and sounds more philosophical nowadays. 

It was great to meet these old friends again, and it brought back lots of happy and sometimes hilarious memories. Cecilia, as petite and soft-spoken as ever, came all the way from Kuala Kangsar. She's a teacher now, and of course, we couldn't resist broadcasting the tale about how the principal walked into the class one day, and thought she was one of the pupils! As usual, Cecilia responded to the ribbing with a shrug and a timid smile. Bawani, another of the Cecilia/Bawani/Shantini trio, came from Klang. She was pregnant with her first child, and she brought along her charming husband. Shantini was missing. 

Past antics were retold, with a few embellishments, of course! I remember how the whole class would disappear on Tuesdays and Thursdays around 12.00 noon. It was our History lesson, and most of us hated the subject and the lecturer. We could be found tucking into chap fun at the nearby Hup Hing Restaurant, or indulging in the addictive game of carroms at the canteen. 

Then there was Mrs Dolly Cheoy, our Economics lecturer. She wore enormous spectacles which kept on slipping precariously down the end of her nose. 

Hoh Hee Lee (a tongue twister of a name) epitomized the word lethargy. He moved in slow motion, spoke in snail-pace drawls, but managed to deliver the most hilarious lines with a deadpan face. He sent the debating team rolling on the floor, tears streaming down their faces, and nearly choking to death with mirth when he stood up to propose that polygamy should be encouraged, and cited the reasons for it. Funnily enough, he's doing his LLB right now. 

Our lecture hall was well-known for having the most fashionable ladies. We had, after all, a Miss Malaysia finalist and a budding drama actress. There was a fashion of sorts everyday, except for people like me who lived on M$250 per month. 

Rosalind Chan received her share of teasing because of her name (Rose Chan, in short). Sexy Veronica had fingernails that looked like talons when painted bright red, and skintight drainpipes were 'in' then. Soo Sin's voice was honey-sweet, and she could wheedle anything from just about anyone. Jenny Chen was part of the Rosalind/Yoke Wah/Terri clique, and they seemed to move en masse everywhere. 

Parties were a prominent feature of our college days. We had the Orientation Ball where a Disco King and Queen were chosen. We had birthday parties where iced cakes were for smashing on other people's faces, not for eating. We had parties to usher in examination fever, and parties to say farewell to it. We had parties for the fun of it, and parties to being fun into our mugging nights. Our parents would have cancelled allowances if they had known what was going on. 

The Sports Carnival was welcomed with open arms. It gave us the perfect excuse to stay out of class and get into more scrapes. There was this ongoing feud with the Science Stream, which broke out into fierce quarrels and near fistfights at the football field. The girls were supposed to be the cheer team, but of course, we couldn't allow the referee to get away with a bad line call. Hence, the name-calling and refusal to treat opponents' injuries by the First Aid Unit, headed by none other than yours truly. It was fatal to date a Science Stream guy those days. 

Whenever I chance upon a Peugeot car, it brings back scary memories of being stalked by a Double Maths guy who thought I was smitten by him. Everywhere I turned at the college, there he was staring with an almost maniacal intensity. He sent me little love notes, asking me to wait for him, and to go for rides in his Peugeot. Owning a car may be a dream those destitute days, but there was no way I would date a Double Maths student. It certainly wasn't hip to be square then! Anyway, one of my 'bodyguards' - Lewellyn, a big burly chap - was asked to deliver a message, and perhaps, a little more than that. 

The reunion was a roaring success. Perhaps we shouldn't wait till Roger cracks the whip before planning the next one. To all my former college mates out there, take care, and don't wait for me to write!

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