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...? Hmmmm...it 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...