Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Sequel (London : 1991-1992)

Sorry, folks! I have to admit that I have not been diligent in updating my Cerita Chenta sequels. In fact, it is not too much to say that my Cerita Chenta had been left in a state of neglect for nearly a week, and if I were to wait for another few days before continuing with it, I'm afraid the momentum and the flow (from me, as well as for the readers) would be lost! So, I think it's high time for me to post a new entry, huh?!

So, anyway - the few months running to my final exams and also graduation, Ayah and I had a heart to heart talk on what exactly I wanted to do after graduating. At that point, Ayah still had 2 more years before he was to graduate, and we had agreed that he should work for at least 1 year before we were to settle down. So, all in all we were looking at at least another THREE years before we could finally tie the knot!

It was also agreed that after his graduation in 1993, if he were to work, he would be working and doing his housemanship in the UK, as that would be the best training ground for him.

So, we laid down all the possibilities of A to Z, and the bottom line was - I didn't think I could stand being so far away from him for so long!

I had a couple of options.

I could either just go back and serve Petronas. This would have meant that I would have to go back to Malaysia that Summer of 1991, do whatever I needed to do, and I would have had to wait for 3 YEARS before we could get married. And Ayah would be in the UK ALL THOSE THREE YEARS!(Errrr...I don't think I would consider THAT as an option?!!! Nak sakit jiwer ke aper???!!!)

OR another option was, I could apply for a scholarship extension to continue with my studies and pursue my Degree of an Utter Barrister in London, after which I would have to go back to Malaysia, but, we would only be apart for 2 years.

Hmmmmm....THREE years apart vs TWO years apart? NOT a difficult choice to make at all.

I have to admit, if it was not because of Ayah, I would not have even thought of doing my Bar Finals in London! I was never (and am NOT) an ambitious person, and sitting for my Bar Exams was never in my list of things-to-do in life.

But, as it was the ONLY option I had to buy time to spend at least another year in the UK, I went on to apply to do my Bar Finals at Ho*born College/Linco**'s I**, and syukur alhamdulillah I received an offer! And in London I stayed for a year, pursuing my Degree of an Utter Barrister (and Ayah was still in Newcastle upon Tyne the whole time).

In a way, I was just an accidental Bar student - hoping to gain more time in the UK only so that Ayah and I would not be too far apart too long. But, of course, I just couldn't ignore my responsibilities of being a Bar student, could I? I was accepted in, so, might as well JUST DO IT, right?

My one year in London was spent in Stroud Green in North London where I shared an apartment with S*l and Tu*ip. Both graduated from Leeds, and both were also admitted to Linco**'s I** and Ho*born College.

Now, applying and getting a place in Linco**'s I** was one thing. Going through the Professional Bar Course and Exams was another thing. It was SHEER HELL, I tell you! And I know there are a few of my readers here who had gone through the same hell as I did. NEVER AGAIN!!! Even if somebody were to pay me REALLY BIG MONEY to go through the Bar Course and Exams, I would happily decline. Thank you, but, NO thank you, sir!

I didn't mind the 24 Dinners that we had to go through (failing which, we would NOT be called to the Bar EVEN if we were to get 1st Class results for the Bar Finals Exams!). The Dinners were fun actually. All of us going in black and white attires, donning the robes, sitting in the glorious Grand Hall of Linco**'s I**, enjoying our bland vegetarian meals and orange juice, while the rest were having succulent roast beef and gravy, and 3-4 types of alcoholic drinks, one after another...(What my house mates and I would normally do was to makan kenyang-kenyang kat rumah dulu, before going to the Inn's dinner!)

Those 24 Dinners were part of the formal requirements of the Honourable Society. Every now and then we were allowed to bring guests along, and of course, Ayah became my regular "tag-along" for all my Guests Night Dinners. That was just an excuse to get Ayah to make a trip down to London from Newcastle every month actually. NOT that he minded! Hehehehe!

It was the Bar Final Course itself which I tak boleh tahan...Those months of going to classes and working on the endless assignments and studying for the exams were arguably the most stressful time of my life. With, and like all professional exams, it was just NOT the same as the normal and ordinary exams you would do at Uni or college. It was in a class of its own, and as I had got myself into it (as an accidental student some more!!), I sweat through it all and gave my best.

Those who had gone through the Bar Finals Exams as I had, would agree with me when I said that the Exams were one of the TOUGHEST exams on the face of the earth...

I remember studying for the subjects with tears falling down onto my notes. I still have those notes with me, with blotches on the pages as proof of my free-flowing tears smearing the pages! It was so damn hard, but, I knew I just had to do it whether I liked it or not. I remember not eating for days studying for the Bar Finals. I remember not going out for weeks preparing for the Bar Finals.

And I remember asking Ayah if he could just come down to London to be with me - untuk bagi semangat throughout the exam period. But, Ayah did the right thing, and said, "NO". He told me, "YOU have to do this YOURSELF, and I don't want to be there as I might distract you and be in your way. BUT, you can call me ANY time of the day and night, and I will be there for you..."

And throughout that ONE week of INTENSIVE exams, I lost count of how many times I called Ayah, day and night - crying like crazy every time, telling him that I was giving up, and that I just could not go on. And every single time Ayah would steer me back and gave his words of encouragement to just hang in there...

EVERY TIME I called him, I was a nervous wreck. And EVERY TIME, he would be saying the same things to boost my morale up. In fact, it would have been easier for him if he were to make a recording of his words of encouragement and just play it on for me to listen to whenever I called! I knew what he was going to say anyway, but, I just needed to hear his voice over the phone...

I tell you, it was a miracle that I did not go mad going through the Bar Finals Exams.

I sat for the Trinity Paper, and passed all subjects except for my General Paper II (which was basically Procedures on Land Law and Equity - not surprising as they happened to be my pet-hate subjects throughout Uni!!). I bersyukur to Allah swt as that would mean that I only had to resit for that ONE Paper. The system was such that IF you were to fail TWO papers, you would have to resit ALL SIX Papers!!! Mati hidup balik I takkan resit if that were to happen to me!

So, that Summer, Ayah offered his place in Newcastle for me to prepare for the Michaelmas Exams while he went back to Malaysia for his Summer Break. In a way, I was "house-sitting" for him. And when Ayah came back from the holidays, I remember him staying up with me going through the subject, or just accompanying me burning the midnight oil...And syukur alhamdulillah, I passed my GP II in that Michaelmas Exams, and that November 1992, I was called to the English Bar and admitted as a Member of the Honourable Society of Linco**'s I** finally...

And I have to say - if it was not for Ayah's words of encouragement and support, ESPECIALLY throughout the exam period, I would not have got through the Exams. And I know that Ayah and his semangat and encouragement had a lot to do with it...and I can't thank him enough...

With all the ceremonies over, I was left with no choice. Petronas had called me back (NOT that they had a job waiting for me back home in Malaysia anyway!), and I had run out of excuses and reasons to stay on...

And in December 1992, I remember taking the MAS flight from London Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur with Re*a - my MT friend who was also with me in Norwich, and who also spent an extra 1 year (but in Warwick, doing her Masters) ALSO to buy time to be in the UK as her boyfriend T**S (who is now her hubby) also had a couple of years still in the UK.

I remember Ayah and T**S sending us off at Heathrow, and I remember how both Reha and I menangis tak ingat dunia at the airport, and continued with the crying marathon all throughout the 13 hours journey to KL! We were crying, and every now and then we were laughing our hearts out because it was actually a pretty damn funny sight looking at each other's monyok face throughout the flight!

But, it sure wasn't funny when reality sank in.

Back in KL, I suddenly found myself totally lost without Ayah by my side. And the fact that Ayah was going to spend at least another two years in the UK before we would tie the knot, did not help at all...

Yes, of course I was happy that I was back in Malaysia with my Mommy and Abah and the rest of the family. But, somewhere along the line, I had realized that Ayah had also become a part of my family - a part of me. He was my semangat...and I didn't know if I could survive being without him in Malaysia for 2 years...

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Sequel (Norwich : 1988 - 1991)

I remember the summer before we went to Uni - there were 16 of us Oxbridge students who didn't go back to Malaysia. 8 girls and 8 guys (including 3 of my Cardiff guys), and all of us stayed at Malaysia Hall throughout the long hot summer holidays. With Ayah back in Malaysia for the break, it turned out to be a very long summer for me indeed - and a lonely one at that.

All 16 of us decided that rather than not doing anything, lazing around waiting for our A Level results to come out, we'd better earn some dosh, and all of us ended up working. Some of us ended up slaving away at Mc*, KF* (Oxford Street) or Sat*Ria (Bayswater). Some ended up working at Bal*y and Se*fri*ges. And some, like me who preferred easy, straight forward jobs, ended up working at Malaysia Hall itself. I became a part-time cleaner there, while my room-mate R*e helped out in the kitchen/dining hall/cafeteria. The pay was good, considering that we didn't have to pay rent or for our meals throughout our stay there! More importantly, it helped to keep my mind off Ayah somewhat.

I still kept my house in Western Avenue, Llandaff then (but, paying only half the rent throughout summer) as all my stuff were still there in the house. Furthermore, my juniors in Cardiff, O*a and Il*a who were going to Upper Sixth Form that year were planning to continue renting the place when they came back from their Summer break that September. And even though most of my stuff in Cardiff were all packed and sealed, I was still not sure of which Uni I would end up at in September as I had a few offers and it all depended on my A Level results.

I remember being very busy in the mornings in London, but very free in the afternoons and the evenings - which led me to feeling very blue most of the time, desperately missing Ayah. It became so bad that when I heard that Ros*an was going back to Cardiff for a few days, I even kirim through him to bring back the small Teddy Bear which Ayah had given me early in the year. I gave him my house keys, and three days later, being a sport he was, he came back to Malaysia Hall with the Teddy Bear! Now when I think about this, rasa kelakar la pulak...Si Ros*an tu pun, layan ajer I?!!

Ros*an was indeed like a big brother to me, and I remember every night he would intercom me from the second floor (all the guys were staying on the second floor, while the girls were on the third floor), and we would melayan each other. He was also missing K**or, his then girlfriend, and I was missing Ayah! Imagine two angaus on the phone/intercom every night talking about their bf/gf to each other! But, I guessed, in a way, it helped ease the pang somewhat. Even though I would get Ayah's numbered letters from Malaysia every now and then, it was just pure torture. Yes - the Summer of 1988 felt like it was the longest summer ever indeed!

Our A Level results finally came out and I was so happy as I got to go to the Uni I had hoped to go to in Norwich, and Ayah got to go to his Uni of choice in Newcastle upon Tyne.

I remember waiting desperately for him to come back to the UK that September after the long break. Ayah had in fact called a few times and had informed me of his flight details. He was flying Air Canada and I had blocked the date he was supposed to be arriving in London in my diary. Berdebar-debar macam first time nak jumpa pulak! I remember having difficulty sleeping the night before and I was so looking forward to seeing Ayah again.

But, I also remember feeling SO upset that morning when the receptionist at Malaysia Hall - K.Maz*i, conveyed me a message. It was from Ayah. Apparently, Ayah's flight had to be diverted to Bombay (then) due to some technical problems two hours into the flight! A few hours stop-over turned into a day stop-over...which in the end turned into a 5 days stop-over!!! Penantian itu, satu penyiksaan they say....What an understatement!

All our major life decisions by then would involve inputs from the other, and I was so looking forward to seeing Ayah - not just because I was missing him (of course!), but also because I had also started to don the tudung on the day he was supposed to arrive back in London!

We had discussed it before but never seriously, and Ayah had left it for me to decide whether I was ready to take the big step. He never indicated that he wanted me to wear the tudung. Neither did he indicate that he was against it. I guess he didn't want his opinion to influence me in such a personal matter. (However, I had the feeling that he was not really up to the idea then). So, you all can just imagine how anxious I was waiting for him then! I had not, till that point, informed him of my decision to go ahead with it, and it was meant to be a surprise...

And I had to wait for SIX days before I could surprise him eventually when he arrived at Malaysia Hall - looking all haggard and exhausted! Being stranded for five days in Bombay was no joke...He must have lost 3 kilos over the five days he was in India!

And I can still remember seeing him (despite being so jet-lagged and bushed) giving me a very pleasant, approving smile, when he first saw me in my tudung... The way he looked at me was...simply endearing...and for that I am forever thankful to him for making it easier for me to continue with my niat to don the tudung...IT REALLY MEANT A LOT TO ME...


Our Uni years were somewhat not as eventful as the early years of our relationship. I guessed our hearts were very much settled, and we were continuously getting to know each other better. Those were the times when our true colours came out, and in a way those were the times when we were tested - whether, despite knowing that both of us had our own Jekylls and Hydes, we would still remain as an item. And syukur alhamdulillah, we learned to accept each other, faults and all, during our Uni years.

Our relationship continued to develop over the three years. Most of the times, Ayah would be the one visiting me in Norwich as accommodation was easier for him. I was staying at the Uni's Halls of Residence throughout the three years - sharing with both girls and guys, and every year there would be at least one Malaysian guy staying on the same floor as me! So, there was always someone's room he could bunk in at when he came for a visit. And again, he became a regular in Norwich...

One thing that I would always remember about his visits to Norwich would be this one time when I was pretty sick during one winter. I was down with a very bad flu, with a very bad lung infection and was flat for nearly a week, and I could not even walk to the public phone which was just 15 feet away from my room to call him! Even if I could, I would not have been able to talk to him as I had lost my voice totally! I had to miss a lot of my classes and I just could not bring myself to keep anything down. Whatever I ate just refused to be digested and would find its way down the sink every time!

Re*a (one of my MT friends who also ended up in Norwich with me) had pestered me to inform Ayah of my condition as she was getting pretty worried about me. But, I told her not to tell Ayah, as I did not want to worry him. It was after all, just a flu. However, after 3 unsuccessful days of trying to get me to eat something, Re*a decided to take matters into her hands and she called Ayah one evening behind my back. And Ayah who had not heard from me for nearly a week then, just dropped everything and took the first train out from Newcastle the next morning, and by lunch time he was standing there right in front of my room!

I was so touched, and what with feeling miserable and under the weather for quite some time then, I just broke down and cried - which was HELL, as I had such a sore throat and my cough was as good as killing me while I was sobbing away!

And Ayah stayed on for nearly a week looking after me - his worst patient ever! He dragged me to see the doctor (Yup - all those while I was sick, I refused to go to the Medical Centre!) He cooked for me. He washed my clothes. He did my grocery shopping. He even got the notes for all the classes that I missed out from my course-mates! So much so, that when I eventually got better, I berlakon sakit coz' tak nak dia balik Newcastle....Hahahaha!

So, THAT was one of the things I remember about our Uni days...

Both of us did pretty well in our studies at Uni. And by the third year, when both of us were 23 years old, we had already decided that whatever it was, God willing, we would ONLY tie the knot at the age of 26 - not later, not earlier. We had even decided on the wedding date! But, the funny thing was - Ayah had never ever proposed to me... and I guessed it would be an insult to me if he WERE to propose... It was understood.

And as I was preparing for my Final Exams and Graduation Day, there were a few matters which Ayah and I needed to sort out. Ayah had another 2 years before he was to graduate. And he was planning to continue with his MRCP after that. Would both of us be okay if Petronas were to ask me to go back to KL straight away after graduating? Would we be able to survive yet an even huger distance love affair considering how close we had become then?

We needed to buy time. We needed to think fast.

It was April/May 1991. And I was graduating in July that year...

To be continued...

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Sequel (Cardiff : 1986-1988)

Phew...the last one week had been crazy, and I think I need to apologise to some of you who might have hopped by every now and then hoping to catch up with the sequel. So sorry, guys...

I also celebrated my BIG 4 birthday on Wednesday, but I'll have to say that it wasn't much of a celebration. WORK got in the way :( I even had to cancel my birthday lunch with Ayah as I couldn't even spare a measly one hour to eat with him! But, Ayah made a point to finish his clinic early that evening, and the whole family had dinner at SD Club. Even then, I was glancing at my watch nervously and anxiously every 5 minutes or so! So, Ayah and I have decided. We're going to do dinner again on Wesak Monday, this time we're going for Japanese (the whole family's favourite :)!

I only had a total of 6 hours sleep over Tuesday until Thursday, and it was a sleepless night on my birthday itself. Not just for me, but also for Ayah who had been such a dear - helping me prepare my Power Point presentation for Thursday morning, while I was attending to another piece of work!!! I consider THAT as the main birthday present for me this year, dear. Thanks so much! And, oh yes, thank you, too, for the beautiful crystal glass jewellery box. I LOVE IT! (But, errr...I'm also hoping you know that I'm expecting the "bling bling" to come later - to fill the box after this! Hahahahaa!!)

Before I proceed with The Sequel, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody for the birthday wishes and do'a. I truly appreciate them and am very touched with all the warm thoughts. Thank you again. May God bless all of you.

Okay, NOW - The Sequel.

September, the time everybody was waiting for finally came. However, Oxbridge students were divided into 2 groups. The first group was for those going to Public Schools, and the second group was for those going to Independent Colleges all over the UK.

For those who are not familiar with UK education system and structure, PUBLIC SCHOOLS are actually PRIVATE (costing-parents/sponsors-a-bomb type) BOARDING schools (and NOT government schools as the name suggested). And JPA would pair the students, so that each school would have 2 Malaysian students in every batch (i.e. 2 in Lower and 2 in Upper Six) These are schools where the rich and famous send their kids to, and check this out, Ab*d (my MT friend actually got into Ba*min*on School in Bristol, where Mick Jagger and the late King Hussein of Jordan sent their daughters to! Fuuuyyyyooooo....What I'm trying to say here is - those who went to Public Schools were TRULY the creme de la creme, and they had the opportunity to really rub shoulders with the kids of all those stiff upper lips elite group.

Independent Colleges on the other hand, are quite varied - some have hostels for the students, while some don't. And the students do normally rub shoulders with rich kids, too, except that most of them had the same upper lips like us. Hehehe!

Public Schools would normally start their school terms in early September, while Independent Colleges would only start their terms towards the end of September.

Ayah was chosen to attend a Public School - Uppi**ham School, in Leicestershire. His partner was Sh*kri, a budak Sekolah Lorong Harimau. I, on the other hand was chosen to attend an Independent College - Ne* Col*ege Cardiff, in Wales. And because of that, we didn't get to fly on the same flight.

Ayah and the rest of the Public School group left for the UK on 26th August 1986, while myself, and the rest of the Independent College group only left Malaysia on 11th September 1986. (By the way, it was Ayah who actually remembered and told me these exact dates!! Power punyer 3lbs...) I remember NOT being that sad, because I knew that whatever it was, insya Allah, we wouldn't be that far from each other. Hey! If you were to think about it, we would have been thousands of miles apart should I were to stay in the A Levels Programme in Malaysia what...

I remember getting postcards from London EVERYDAY from Ayah until the last day before my flight to the UK, and true to his trademark, his postcards were numbered, too! And it was such a pleasant surprise when we reached Heathrow on that chilly September morning, when I saw Ayah and a few friends from the Public School group waiting for us there! Apparently, their schools were to start only a few days after that, and Ayah was only scheduled to register that next day. Of course, both of us had to contain our excitement of seeing each other at the airport as there were MSD officers everywhere maaaa!

After checking in at Malaysia Hall (the old one in Bryanston Square), the newly arrived students were given a briefing on what was happening and when each of us were supposed to leave for our colleges. I remember being VERY tired that morning, but, because I knew Ayah would be leaving for Uppi**ham the next day, I accepted Ayah's invitation to join him for a walk/stroll along Oxford Street later that morning.

And I remember him taking and holding my hand for the FIRST time, as we were turning left at the intersection between Oxford Street and Marble Arch that morning...

I was sure that it was a calculated move by Ayah - that spot would be far enough to be out of the spying eyes of any MSD officers. And I remember feeling very warm, and very safe holding his hand on that cold morning. It just felt very natural. It just felt very right.

Ayah left for Uppi**ham the next day, and the following day I left for Cardiff. And that was the beginning of yet another long-distance relationship between Ayah and I.

Oh ya...I forgot to tell you all - I was the ONLY Malaysian girl going to Lower Six at Ne* Col*ege, Cardiff that year. The other three Oxbridge students were Sazl*, Yo*, and Idr*s. So, there were only the four of us in our batch. Or so, I thought at first, until a week later when another SIX students joined us. ALL GUYS - from the Sekolah Askar Sungei Besi under the MINDEF scholarship. So, there I was - surrounded by all these handsome, separa-handsome, and lebih kurang-handsome GUYS in Cardiff - ALL NINE of them! And I was the only Malaysian girl in Lower Six.

I remember going nearly EVERYWHERE with all NINE of them the first few months we were in Cardiff. Fuuuuhhhh, kalau goyah chenta, today's story would have been different altogether maaaa!! Hahahahaha! The guys and I became very close. BUT - sorry to disappoint those of you who were expecting that there would be an orang ketiga in our relationship while I was in Cardiff. Because there was none. Sazl*, Yo*, Idr*s, Ros*an, Ra*in, H*lim, Ma*ek, Ru*di and L*m were all like my big brothers. They were always looking out for me...And my days in Cardiff had been very colourful, very sweet and very memorable indeed because of them.

There were of course a few Malaysian seniors doing their Upper Six at the same college, and I shared a house with our seniors Am* and Far*iz (both from Seremban Girls High School). Our first house was a typical Welsh terrace house on Planta**net Street, while the boys were staying right opposite us. We then moved to Despe**er Street, and 2 of the boys - Ros*an and Yo*, moved to the flat above us. This proved to be very convenient when Ayah came to visit me (which, by the way was VERY frequent!) By the way, both places were just sepelaung from that majestic Cardiff Arms Park Stadium.

The next year - our crucial Upper Sixth year, I moved yet to another house. This time to West**n Avenue in Llandaff, sharing with my juniors - Oz* (also from Seremban Girls School) and Il*a (SMSPP), and May (a HK student). Am* and Far*iz by then had already moved on to Dundee and Oxford respectively. Whoever my housemates were, they were all VERY familiar with Ayah. Pantang ada cuti ajer, he would be in Cardiff!!!

And TWO things that I would NEVER EVER forget were something he did for the first time when we were in Lower Six. (Errrr....NO! NOT what you guys are thinking! HAHAHAHAHA! Weiiii!!! We all budak baik weiiii!!!)

It was Ayah's first half-term break, and he decided to spend it in Cardiff. I was staying at Despe**er Street with Am* and Far*iz then, and Ros*an and Yo* were staying above us - which was quite convenient logistically as Ayah could bunk in with them every time he came for a visit! We spent the whole time either studying, going for walks at Sofia's Park, and the Castle Grounds, going to the movies, etc. And one week went by REALLY fast, I tell you.

The day arrived when he had to go back to Uppi**ham, and I went with him to Cardiff Central Station to send him off. I remember feeling very sad, and it felt like there was a big hole in my heart that day. And as the train was leaving the platform, he made a promise that he would come and visit again very soon. I remember him asking me to study hard and take care of myself, and there I was starting to cry...and THEN he uttered it -

"I love you..." , very softly and just as the train door was closing... His FIRST utterance of the three little magic words to me...

And I for the life of me can't remember whether I actually said, "I love you, too" back to him, or not then!! But, I remember being stunned, and feeling very, very sad. And I remember crying...(I know...I know...cememeh betul...)

But, I remember the phone-call Ayah made while waiting for his connecting train to Oakham at Peterborough that evening. The thing was - there was no phone in our house, and what my house-mates and I would do was we would fix a certain time for anybody to call us to a public phone near our house at a specified time, on a specified day. And Ayah had asked me to wait at that public phone that evening as he promised that he would call while waiting for the last connecting train to Oakham, as he would have about forty minutes to kill. And he did call at the promised time. He was telling me how tired he was and how sad he felt leaving me that afternoon, and suddenly, the words just came out from me, just like that - "I love you..." MY FIRST utterance of the three little magic words to him... And I felt so relieved after saying it...

Ayah became very quiet suddenly. He then went on to utter the three little words back to me again. In fact BOTH of us became VERY quiet after that. Ayah then excused himself and we said our bye byes. And I remember dragging my feet back to the house, with very heavy heart - thinking of the next term break when Ayah would be visiting again...

It was about 11:30pm that night when our doorbell rang. Am* was listening to some very loud rock music, and I didn't think she heard the bell. Far*iz was studying as usual, and I knew that I had to answer the door. I was quite reluctant as it was already quite late, and none of us were expecting any visitors. Both Ros*an and Yo* were out, and I thought maybe it was one of them. Maybe they left their keys at home, or something like that.

I was just going down the stairs, when through the opaque glass door, I saw a figure in grey attire waiting outside, and my heart skipped a beat.

"Could it be...? couldn't be him...could it?!!!"

I just stood there behind the door, waiting for that person to turn.

And turned he did! And through that opaque glass door, I saw Ayah's face!

I immediately opened the door and let him in, and Ayah was grinning away, wheeling his luggage in, looking at how confused and dumb-founded I was seeing him there in front of me!!! And both of us started laughing!

Ros*an and Yo* came back then, and they, too, were surprised to see Ayah that night!

Apparently, after his earlier phone-call, and after hearing the three little words coming out from me, he felt that he had to turn back . He then called his House Master, Mr. De V**l (NOT Devil, okay?!) and told him a white lie that he had missed the last connecting train to Oakham and therefore he had decided to turn back to Cardiff! Ayah managed to get his ticket and got on the next train to Cardiff - and that was how he turned up in front of our opaque glass door that night...

That was the FIRST time Ayah pulled that stunt, and that was NOT the last time, either! I think throughout our Cardiff days, he did that at least 4 times...And the guys would jokingly tease and kutuk Ayah every time he would tercanguk in front of our door after we had said our bye byes earler in the day. And memang teruk lah jugak Ayah kena...

The normal things :

"Haizal, engkau baik check ticket engkau. Aku rasa engkau salah date. Kau punya train bukan hari ni kot?"


"Haizal, aku tak kemas sleeping bag kau, tau. Aku rasa, malam ni kau tido sini lagi kot?!"


"Haizal, engkau baik tukar sekolah aje lah..."

Even Mr De V**l would tease him about it! Yup, even his House Master knew about his Cardiff girl!

The two years in Cardiff definitely left very fond memories for us.

And, one thing that both of us could not explain was - even though we suffered emotionally every time we had to part ways, we NEVER tried to influence each other on the choices of universities for us to pursue our studies after our A Levels so that we BOTH would be studying at the same University, and for once would not endure the heartaches of being apart.

In fact, NONE of Ayah's 5 choices which he put in his UCCA Form were the same as MY 5 choices! You would have thought, that after going through what we had gone through, we would at least take the next step and at least went to the same University, right? But, I guess, we were still very sensible, and we chose to go to the university of our own choice, which offered the best for our respective courses then.

And, after my A Levels days in Cardiff, and Ayah's days in Uppi**gham, I went on to do Law at University of E**t An**ia, and Ayah went on to do Medicine at the University of New**st*e up** T*ne...

And that was the beginning of yet another 3 YEARS of long distance love affair between Ayah and I, but this time, as University students...

...To be continued...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Sequel (KPP : 1986 # 4)

Hmmmm...Had too much coffee at my Department's Annual Dinner just now - yearly affair to bid farewell to our Final Year students (By the way, I was voted "Lecturer Paling Anggun and Jelita" by my students! HAHAHAHA! Buter ker aper? Ker nak sogok dapat markah lebih?!) Anyway, I'm now wide awake. Great! Now I can finish off marking the exam papers, but before that, let me just continue with the sequel. Can aarrrr?

Fasten your seat-belts, you guys! Here we go again...on another roller-coaster ride...

Anyway, after that few days post-SPM results break, we all went back to KPP, and I was just not in the mood to see or talk to anybody, especially Ayah. But, hey, Subang Jaya KPP was not a huge place, and how long did I think I could mope around and feel sorry for myself? It was the most difficult thing to do - meeting Ayah and talking about my SPM results. I tried avoiding him, but a girl had to do what a girl had to do.

The morning after we got back to KPP, I sent a message to Ayah via Ibu, telling him of my results and how I was feeling and all. And within 5 minutes of getting my message, Ayah came down to see me at my classroom, and we started talking at the corridor. I think Ayah was not really sure as to how to handle the situation, and he kept on saying, "It's's okay..." And I just could not stop crying. Sedeh sangat....

Not many people knew about us, and they must have wondered what was going on between us then. Those who knew about us being an item(ish) must have thought that we were having a tiff! But, I just didn't care what people were saying. My eyes were swollen with too much crying before that, anyway...and it didn't help that I was surrounded by all the top SPM students in my class...

But, things got better after a few days after I managed to get a grip of myself and said, "Shana, life has to go on...You have to accept whatever it is that's going on in your life, and make the best of it!" And with that, I just moved on...There were a few other Oxbridge students who were in the same shoes as me, and they seemed to be handling it better than I did, and I took courage in how they just went on with life and continued doing what needed to be done.

What I didn't know, and what Ayah did not tell me was - just before our results came out, Ayah had gone to JPA and had made an appeal to CHANGE his Programme, from Ivy League to Oxbridge, and from doing Engineering in the U.S of A, to doing Medicine in the U.K. It was supposed to be a surprise... If Ayah were to get it, that would mean that BOTH of us would be flying off to the UK that September. That was of course IF straight A's on my SPM results slip was the order of the day, which unfortunately it was not...

And it was about a month after our results came out when Ayah got a letter from JPA. His application to be transferred to the Oxbridge Programme had been approved, and he was to fly off to the UK in September that year...

I just could not describe how I felt when Ayah broke the news to me that one afternoon...Was I happy? I really wasn't sure of myself. But, I could see that even though it was such great news to him, Ayah seemed very, very sad.

What a twist...

It started off with me being in the Oxbridge Programme, and he, in the AAD Programme.

And I was still in the Oxbridge Programme, when he was promoted to the Ivy League Programme.

And, when he was transferred to the Oxbridge Programme, when we were supposed to be flying off to the UK together that September, I was demoted to the A Levels Programme...

The irony of life...And such tests to be bestowed upon us.

It was one of the most difficult and awkward times in our relationship, but, we were taking it a day at a time.

I remember getting a letter from Petronas nearing the end of our English Course in Subang Jaya, confirming my status as a student under the A Levels Programme, and I kept staring at it with tears flowing freely down my face...

It was just too much to handle. The English Course was coming to an end, all my AAD friends would thereafter move to all over Shah Alam according to their Programmes. All my Oxbridge friends, and Ayah of course, would be on a long break before starting their Terminology Course in Kelana Jaya, and there I was - left alone in Subang Jaya, having to make new friends. It felt like I was in a bottomless pit...

But life had to go on.

After the English Course ended, the A Levels Programme started. I remember there were a few of us ex-Oxbridge students who were transferred to the A Levels Programme having to take the bus from Subang Jaya to Kelana Jaya everyday to attend our classes. It was such a chore to me, and it didn't help that Ayah and I was not able to communicate like before. He was back home, and I was busy attending classes, and all.

And it was such a relief, when all the Oxbridge students reported for their one month Terminology Course at KPP Kelana Jaya in July that year, and I got to meet Ayah everyday! And it was in Kelana Jaya that we first went out just the two of us...

Nothing romantic - Ayah would come to my classroom, and we would go to one of the restaurants there and we would buy our nasi bungkus and we would have our lunch at his classroom. By that time, the whole world already knew about us! But, for some reason, I just felt that I did not want to continue with the relationship...

I was so confident that it would not work out. What with him in the UK and me in Malaysia for 2 years, and all? What I didn't think of was that it would have been the same if he were to be in the AAD Programme and I was in the Oxbridge Programme in the first place! I guess, I was still drowning myself in self-pity without realising it...

And I started distancing myself from him. And I remember there were a few girls from the A Levels Programme who were Ayah's tuition mates, who happened to be close friends with Ayah's sister (my now SIL)who was their junior in the Seremban Girls School, whom I always saw talking to Ayah...(lawa-lawa pulak tu!) And again, because of self-pity, I started to ambik hati...And I wrote him a looonnng letter saying that it was better for us to end whatever it was that was going on between us before the relationship went deeper and further...

And I remember that afternoon when he came to see me at my classroom. He was pretty furious, and he asked me to follow him to his classroom. We reached his classroom and he started asking me to draft a letter to Petronas - a letter to appeal for me to be reinstated to the Oxbridge Programme.

I remember being very degil and told him that it would not work. I have resigned to the fact that I would be doing my A Levels in Malaysia. I was okay with that, and why couldn't he just accept that?! I was pretty defiant... But, he was very determined.

And I remember Ayah drafting that letter and asking me to help him provide all sorts of reasons to give to Petronas as to why I should be reinstated, etc. I just couldn't care less at first, but seeing him so determined and so sincere to help, I sat down and we came up with the draft. Ayah must have brought it back with him and printed it out, and the next day, he asked me to sign the letter and we put it in the post. And the waiting game began - well, at least for Ayah it did. Myself? I didn't dare to even hope that my appeal would be considered. I didn't even get an acknowledgment from Petronas of their receipt of that letter!

The Oxbridge Terminology Course finally ended at the end of July / early August. Ayah went back home and I was back to the old routine. Ayah would come and visit me every now and then in between his busy schedule preparing for his trip to the UK that September, and we would spend time talking at Pawagam P.Ramlee during his visits or just chit-chatting in the Common Room. All those while, I was preparing myself for the day when I had to say goodbye to him when he would leave for the UK. That was until THAT one afternoon.

I was in my room preparing for the next day lessons when I was called downstairs by the warden. There were visitors for me. Strange - because my brother had just visited me two days before that, and my uncles or aunties would only come to pick me up for the weekend. (My Abah and Mommy were still staying in Taiping back then).

I went down to the Common Room, and I was pleasantly surprised to see my Abah and my Brother Im* waiting for me there. After salaming and hugging them, my brother said, "We have good news for you!" And I asked, "What?!!" I just could not think of anything at all that could be the good news Abang Im* was telling me about...

Abang Im* was holding a white envelope in his hand, and he was giving me his usual mischievous looks, and he said (or rather - screamed!)-


And he started hugging me, and I - a bit dazed and confused, started hugging him and my Abah, and we started jumping up and down (except for my Abah, of course!), and I started screaming!

I just couldn't belive it!

"Are you sure?!!", I asked Abah and Abang Im*, and they nodded. And Abang Im*, with the big grin still on his face, gave me the envelope.

I opened it, and read the letter inside -

"Dengan sukacitanya - rayuan anda telah dipertimbangkan - pihak kami bersetuju untuk membenarkan saudari meneruskan pangajian di bawah Program Oxbridge di dalam bidang Undang-Undang bermula bulan September tahun ini", etc.

And suddenly, all the pent up emotions which had been bottling up inside me for the last few months just flooded out, and I started to cry...And I mean REALLY CRY...

...To be continued...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Sequel (KPP : 1986 # 3)

I'm not supposed to continue with this sequel now...I've just finished marking 5 Dissertations, and 58 pieces of my students' assignments (all within the last 3 days) and I have 24 more pieces of assignments and 82 pieces of exam scripts to mark for the rest of the week (and mind you each exam script contains 3 essays/answers! AAAArrrrrggggghhhh!!!) But, if I didn't take a break now and continue with this Cerita Chenta - I'm going to explode...and poor Ayah would have to pick all the bits and pieces of me nanti.... Eeeeewwwwww...GROSSSSSS!!!

So to avoid that - here's The Sequel :) Hehehehe!

So, everything was hunky dory for us - Ayah was promoted to Ivy League and I was in the Oxbridge Programme and we were surrounded by our fantastic friends. Life was more fun as skodenging was made easier, as our hostels were very near to each other in Subang Jaya. Our classes were held at Sri KL School which was about 10 minutes walk from our hostels, and the best thing was - we girls would have to pass by the guys' block on the way to class, and oh yes - our warung lepak was right in front of Ayah's room, too! (Our warung lepak was the Pawagam P.Ramlee in SJ - not sure if it's still there, though?) So, actually both Ayah and I had a field day skodenging each other in Subang Jaya! Hehehe!

And it might be hard for some of you to believe (and I'm sorry to disappoint some of you all), but the truth be told - the 5/6 months we were in Subang Jaya, Ayah and I NEVER went out together just the two of us on a proper date! Sorry, guys!!!

I remember the first time we went out together, there were TEN of us - myself and Ab*d (from Group 2), and Ayah, Ibu, Ju*a, Sh*dy, B*gg, Az*in and Aza*in (from Group 13), and J* (from Group 12) - we went out for lunch at Subang Jaya's Shakey's Pizza. And it was and had ALWAYS been like that. There would always be a friend or two (or EIGHT!) chaperoning us, and we didn't mind a bit. In fact, it was Ayah or me who would ajak our friends to join us. Strange, huh? But, somehow, we just felt right NOT to go out just the two of us then...

One of the things that I remember most about KPP Subang Jaya was of course the eve of Valentine's Day that can I forget that night? We girls just came back from our night class, had our teh tarik at Pawagam P.Ramlee, and had gone back to our own rooms, and I was getting ready for bed, when my dorm-mate came to me and said, "Ada orang nak jumpa downstairs". I looked at my watch and it was already 11:40p.m! "Hmmmm...who could it be?" - I wasn't expecting any visitors at that hour!

What to do? I had to change to a more decent clothes as I couldn't be going downstairs in my pyjamas, could I? So, off I went down, and just as I reached the Ground Floor, I saw Ayah. There he was - with a BIG red envelope and a single red rose in his hand!!! Caaaaiiiiirrrrrr, I tell you! I didn't want to appear too anxious, and I kept my cool. And we started chit-chatting (all those time he was holding on to the envelope and rose, and I was glancing nervously at those items in his hand!!! Hahaha! Tak malu betul...)

And at the stroke of midnight, and right on cue, Ayah wished me, "Happy Valentine's Day..." and handed me the big red envelope and the single red rose, and said, "I hope you'll like these..."

"LIKE???!!" I LOVED THEM! I just did not know how to react, and I think my face was all red then! Palpitations...palpitations!!!

And right at THAT moment, Encik Tal*a, our warden walked by and said, "BALIK BILIK!!! Dah pukul dua belas ni!!!" CHIIISSSSSS!!!! Perosak agenda betul... So, no after mid-night rendezvous for us that night. I thanked Ayah, and went back up to my room and he went back to his room. And I remember having a difficult time sleeping that night....Rasa panas seluruh badan woooo...HAHAHAHAHA!!

Another thing that I remember about Subang Jaya was our "Song Composition Club" which we would have on Tuesday nights. I remember our Club teacher, (who was also our Grammar teacher) Mr. Ana*da Ti*aka who would bring his guitar kapok, and there were about 8 or 9 of the club members at every meeting. And surprise, surprise....(not!) BOTH Ayah and I were members of that club! And the funny thing was - the members were either from Group 2 (three of us - myself, Ab*d and Wa*i) and Group 13 (Ayah, Ibu, Ju*a, B*gg, Sh*dy, Az*in and Aza*in! And also another MT friend, J* (from Group 12). So, basically that club was formed exclusively for us! Hahahaha!

I mean...I could understand why Ayah was in it laaa - he plays a few musical instruments, and he was (and is) into composing songs, and he's also quite a good singer But, moi???!!! Gosh, I was and AM the most tone-deaf person who ever walked on the face of the earth, and the berudu-berudu dewasa during their spawning/mating season pun sound so much better than me when I (TRY to) sing! Tapi, sebab nak curi peluang to spend every little time possible with Ayah, I sanggup masuk Club tu and made a fool of myself...(GOSHHHH!!! Cringe...cringe!)

There were also a few occasions when Ab*d and I were walking to class from our hostel and we would bump into Ayah, also walking to Sri KL (kekadang tu memang saja go to class time-time I knew Ayah would be leaving for his class...Heheheh!) and being the gentleman that he was (and is :)) he would teman and walk us from the Pawagam P.Ramlee junction right up to our classroom before going up to the second floor to Group 13. Sigh... :)

I remember being very happy at Subang Jaya. The time spent there was arguably one of the best times of my life. I was hopelessly falling in love...What more could I ask for?

But come March that year, it looked like everything was about to change...

Yup - the day our SPM results came out.

I remember most of us STFians took the night train from KL to JB the night before. We reached JB in the morning and went straight to school. And after meeting our teachers and juniors in school we went to the school office to collect our result slips - our hearts jumping and thumping...

And THAT morning turned out to be one of the worst days of my life...

My results was not as I (or my teachers) expected. It did not reflect the string of A's that I always got throughout my Form 4 and 5. And I just couldn't explain it...What went wrong?! On hindsight, I should bersyukur as it was NOT a bad results at all - but, it was just not good enough for the Oxbridge Programme...I JUST missed out on the single digit aggregate...And I was so, so devastated...

And it didn't help when the next morning it was all over the newspapers that Ayah was one of Malaysia's best students for SPM that year...

I was VERY happy for him, of course...but, at the same time, very, very broken with my own results...

And for the next couple of days after I went back to KL, I didn't call Ayah...and all those while, he was frantically trying to get in touch with me...And I - I just could not bring myself to face him.

And from that moment on, I was resigned to the fact that come September that year, Ayah would be flying off to the U.S of A under the Ivy League Programme, and I would be staying on in Malaysia for 2 years under the A Levels Programme...

"It just wasn't meant to be", I kept on telling myself...

To be continued...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Sequel (KPP : 1986 # 2)

Alahai...naik segan lah pulak nak sambung cerita... But, there might be somebody out there who'll hire a hit-man to kill me if I didn't finish this. So, here we go again.

The first message from Ayah was more or less a "Hello, how are you" kind of message, and him congratulating me for being in the Oxbridge Programme, etc. And I remember replying telling him how surprised (or rather - shocked!) I was that he was neither in the Oxbridge nor the Ivy League Programme. The thing was - there were a few of bebudak Sekolah Melayu KK in the same group as I was, and I overheard them talking amongst each other as to how surprised they were that Ayah, and a few other budak terrer Sekolah Melayu KK were not in either Programme. (They didn't know about the going ons between Ayah and I then, so, memang no filters whatsoever lah when they were talking about him in front of me! Nasib baik it was all good things about Ayah which came out of them. If not, I would have formed a different picture of him then!)

I remember Ayah's reply to that message, stating that : YES, he was upset and frustrated, but he was okay, as he believed there was a reason for everything. He said he was settling down well in his Group and getting along well with his classmates. I remember him writing about his classmates in one of his earlier messages - a melting pot of guys and girls from different schools, and I think Ayah clicked within no time with Sh*dy (Mr. Engineer), B*gg, Az*in and Az**in who later ALSO became our loyal part time Postmen, together with Ibu, Ab*d and also J*ra (another STF friend who was in his group).

Anyway, for about 10 days or so, the messages were coming and going like nobody's business, and I always looked forward to lunch, tea and dinner time as Ibu would always be bringing messages from Ayah every time after each class/session, and I have to admit, I remember feeling VERY disappointed on a few occasions when Ibu did not have Ayah's messages with her. And all those while, Ayah and I STILL had not met each other...

Of course, there were a few nervous glances between us every now and then, be it when he skodeng me or I skodeng him when we were in our own classrooms in between lessons (Ayah's classroom was on the 2nd Floor of the building, situated diagonally from my classroom on the 1st Floor, by the way. Strategic la jugak. After dua tiga kali skodeng - "Handsome jugak mamat ni!" - a far cry from that mamat posing maut hari tu! Hahaha!)

It was rather difficult for us to meet as our schedules were really packed, and of course, we didn't want other people to know about us! And because nobody knew about us, there were a few guys who were "interested" to know me! I remember one mamat Ivy League by the name of Awang Ikang, and another mamat Oxbridge by the name of Mat Spen (kedua-duanya bukan nama sebenar) who started sending salams to me through my classmates. And the thing about Awang Ikang was - he was pretty persistent! There would be about a dozen of his friends who would wait for me every time I went to class, calling my name continuously, that so much so, I felt quite harassed most of the times!

But I remember that one evening quite clearly. I was walking towards my class with Ab*d after solat Maghrib when Awang Ikang's friends came towards us (about 7-8 of them!) conveying his salam to me, and I was PRETTY scared. Suddenly, out of nowhere, B*gg and Az*in came and called out to Ab*d and me, and in front of Awang Ikang's friends, B*gg gave me a message from Ayah, and very loudly said, "Ni message from Haizal - dia kirim salam kat you!" I think Awang Ikang's friends got the message, and after that, they never bothered me again!

And all those while, Ayah and I STILL had not met each other - eye to eye...

The thing about KPP was, our classes were all held in Section 17, while all the students stayed all over Shah Alam. I was staying in Section 8, while Ayah was staying in Section 6, and every morning we would board the buses before the sun rose to go to our classes, and we would straight away board the buses and go back to our apartments right after our classes ended every night. So, it was quite impossible to have a proper "meeting" with him. And our routine was - Ab*d and I would catch the earliest bus to avoid the crowd, and we would be the first to reach our classroom, and we would just sweep the floor and tidy the place up before everybody else came.

And we were doing just that one morning - sweeping, dusting, re-arranging the tables and chairs, when suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I could see somebody standing in front of our classroom's door. Mind you - it was still dark, and there were not many people around then, and when you see a white thing like that - standing there, not moving, you would think twice before you turn to look, right?! But, somehow, I didn't know how or why, I knew it was Ayah, and I turned to look at the door...

And there he was - looking VERY nervous, not knowing whether to smile or not, or whether to enter the classroom. Ab*d looked at him, and then looked at me, and started walking to the back of the classroom, pretending to do some dusting there - tersengih-sengih! Sporting punyer member...

I was VERY nervous, too, but I smiled at him, and said, "Haizal, kan?" (Duuuhhhhhh???!!!! Hahaha!), and he said, "Yes - Shana, kan?" (Double Duuuuuhhh???!!! And this was after nearly 2 weeks of exchanging messages! Hahaha!) and he offered his hand and we salamed (I know, I know....Haram...but, what to do? Darah muda...and I didn't want to embarrass him by not returning the gesture. Hehehe!) We started talking along the corridor, and I have to say I can't really remember what was said that morning, as I was in Cloud 9...)

The messages between us became more frequent after that. And we were more or less resigned to the fact that come September that year, I would be flying off to the UK, while Ayah would continue his studies under the AAD Programme in Malaysia for two years before flying off to the U.S of A. But, we just didn't want to linger too much on that. We were just seizing the day, and enjoying what was developing between us on a daily basis.

Oh the end of the first month in KPP, my friends and I, naturally had been skodenging some hunks around us in KPP, and each of us had given nicknames to the Mamats whom we fancied/admired from afar. And we used the names of gemstones to identify those hunks in our conversations so that people would not know who we were talking about. I remember all these Mamats until now, but if ever I were to meet them again, I wouldn't know their real names as I only knew them either as Jade, Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire or Amethyst. As for me, as there was some sort of an understanding that I wasn't supposed to skodeng anybody else, as I already had Ayah (Chewah!!!), Ayah became my "hunk", and we called him "Topaz"...

And you guys know what? I can't really remember when exactly that I told him that we nicknamed him "Topaz", but from that day onwards, whenever he signed cards or letters for me, he would write "Topaz" underneath his signature...And he STILL does it until now...

And I think it was in early February 1986 when we had to move to a new place. Some of the students had to move to Kelana Jaya, and various parts of Shah Alam, but, as fate had it, both Ayah's group and mine were moved to KPP Subang Jaya. I remember feeling very relieved and happy when I found out that he would still be near me...

And it was sometime in February (I think) about a month before SPM results came out when there were rumours that some students from the AAD and A Levels Programmes would be "promoted" to either the Oxbridge or Ivy League Programme, and I was really praying that Ayah would be one of them! And true enough, during lunch one day, Ibu came to me and told me, "Shana, good news! Haizal has been promoted to Ivy League!"

I was SO happy for him, and immediately wrote a message congratulating him. His reply came that afternoon, thanking me for the doa's, and all, and how happy he was and he wrote, "I MIGHT be asked to change and move to one of the Ivy League groups after this for the rest of this English Course, BUT, I'm going to appeal if they would just let me stay in Group 13 until the end of the course". I think he was already feeling very attached and close to his Group 13 friends, and he just didn't want to leave that group. And in Group 13 he stayed until the end of the English Course...

And I guess, THAT was the hikmah and the reason why he was put under the AAD Programme initially, as some of the close friends he made in Group 13 then are still his close friends until now. And of course - had Ayah not been in Group 13, process of sending messages to and fro between us during our KPP English Course time would have been very difficult indeed...

And so, from that moment on, we were resigned to the fact that by September that year, I would be flying off to the UK under the Oxbridge Programme, and Ayah would be flying off to the U.S. of A under the Ivy League Programme instead of staying in Malaysia for two years under the AAD Programme.

Or would we really?

...To be continued...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Sequel (KPP : 1986 # 1)

Pressure...pressure - to come up with this sequel. Hehehe!

Okay, adek-adek, kakak-kakak and abang-abang - duduk elok-elok, and I'll continue with this Hindustani epic. By the way, after campur tolak kali bahagi again, I think there'll be more than 4 sequels actually. Ya laaahh....a lot happened in that 10 years 4 months and 15 days before Ayah and I finally got married, you know...

Anyway, moving along. And brace yourselves (again!). This may be a looonnnngggg posting, depending on whether I'm up to it or not. But, whatever it is, just in case, it is strongly advised that those who want to make their coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, etc., or those who feel that they might need to go to the loo - do whatever you need to do NOW! Hahaha!

Nothing much happened after that Wak Jonggo episode, and Ayah and I continued writing to each other throughout Form 4 and 5 (and if you have read this, you would also know that Ayah would number ALL his letters to me chronologically - so romantic....and melancholic!). We continued writing, giving each other tips and encouragement for the looming SPM.

We were both shortlisted to go for the interviews carried out by JPA and Petronas for post-SPM scholarships, but, I remember telling myself not to put too high a hope to get any offers.

SPM came and went, and I went back to Taiping without having any definite plans on what I wanted or needed to do while waiting for the results. I remember NOT getting any letters from Ayah during those time, and so, I started reading all his old letters (Angau ker aper?!)

And one day, towards the end of December 1985 - a letter came for me. A letter from Petronas -

"Tahniah - dipilih untuk menerima biasiswa dari Petronas - melanjutkan pelajaran di United Kingdom - Bidang Undang-Undang - Program Oxbridge - sila lapor diri pada sekian-sekian tarikh - di KPP Seksyen 17 Shah Alam".

YESSSS!!! Syukur Alhamdulillah...

The day finally came, and I remember how chaotic the hall was during the KPP registration, and I was looking high and low for my STF friends, and was overjoyed to see Ibu, J* and Ab*d there, among others. And of course, I was also looking out for Ayah. What with his outstanding exam results throughout Form 4 and 5, he would have surely gotten the offer. But, there was a slight problem - I wasn't sure how he looked like!

Yup! All throughout 1984-85, he only gave me one measly picture of him - looking so skinny, posing maut depan a plaque in front of his school. And I had a feeling that if Ayah was looking out for me (Cheee...confident giler pulak that he would do that. Hehehe!) he would also have problems recognizing me! Reasons being -

The picture that I gave him was of a very skinny me, in a pinafore, short straight hair, with my John Lennon glasses and VERY sun-burnt. It was taken when I was in Form 4 after 4 grueling months of training under the hot sun, 8-10 hours a day EVERY DAY for the national level Merdeka Day celebration. Our school band collaborated with our rival SIGS to perform as the main showcase for Merdeka Day in KL that year, and I was involved in it.

NOPE - I was not a bandgirl. I was, what they called - a PomPom Girl...(GELAKLAH PUAS-PUAS, you all...)

Anyway, the ME who registered that day, was way fairer, uncomfortably wearing a baju kurung, with a different pair of glasses. And because of some insane moments a week before when I agreed to follow my brother's suggestion to perm my hair, my hair was permed. PERMED you all!!! Don't pray, pray! Anyway, my friends who saw me that day sakit perut gelakkan I...Never in their wildest dreams and imagination that they thought they would see me with permed hair! I was a bit of a tomboy in school, you see...So, there was quite a high probability that should Ayah be looking out for me that day, he wouldn't have recognized me.

And I didn't see Ayah that day. Frust la jugak... Hehehe!

The next day, we were all seated in the hall and were grouped according to the Programmes we were in - Oxbridge, Ivy League, A Levels and AAD. I was trying to curi-curi pandang at the other Oxbridge and Ivy League groups if I could catch a glimpse of someone looking like Ayah, but to no avail. I was saying to myself, if macam I yang ciput ni boleh masuk Oxbridge, I'm sure Ayah's place in either programme was guaranteed!

And suddenly, I THOUGHT I saw him (but, not sure because in my mind was the skinny mamat yang posing maut depan plaque tu! And that guy was not that skinny, and quite fair) seated within the AAD group. I said to myself - couldn't have been him, and I looked away.

The next day, we sat for our placement TOEFL exam, and I was still curi-curi pandang looking for Ayah. And again, I THOUGHT I saw him in the AAD group! And I still felt that he would either be in the Ivy League or Oxbridge Programme.

Our placement TOEFL results came out within a few days, and I was placed in Oxbridge Group 2, together with Ab*d. Nasib baik ader geng... Bebudak Oxbridge yang lain cakap berabuk you, especially those in Group 1 (Ngeri...). And when they were calling out the names of the students for the other groups, I heard Ayah's name being called. I immediately looked up, and as he was standing up and walking towards his new group, I thought he looked towards where I was sitting! He must have known where I was sitting all those while, and probably HOPING that I would look at him when his name was being called - which I did! He was placed in Group 13 (i.e Group 2 for the AAD Programme) - in the same class as Ibu!!!

And THAT was the FIRST time that I saw Ayah in the flesh... and I liked what I saw - so different from that skinny mamat posing maut in front of the plaque pic...

When lunchtime came, Ab*d and I walked towards the dining hall to join the rest of the gang. There were seven of us who ALWAYS walked, ate, solat together during our KPP time - myself, Ab*d, Ibu, J*, J*ra, Gy**e and Sh*tot. The rest of the gang were already waiting for us in the dining hall, and as we were walking towards them, I saw Ibu holding a piece of neatly folded paper, and she was grinning at me.

And she said, "Shana....I have a message for you...(chuckle, chuckle, giggle, giggle...) Hehehehe!"

Me : Message?! (Cheeewaahhh... buat-buat terkejut la pulak!)

Ibu : Yup - from Haizal...

And neatly written on the folded message was my name, and the number "1".

And THAT was the first of the hundreds of messages Ayah wrote to me while we were in KPP...

...To be continued...