Saturday, April 30, 2005

Alma Mater

Two recent pics I took of Penang Free School, and before someone asks why recent pics would make any difference from older ones when the place is getting close to 200 years of age, I’ll point out the more modern license plate number on the Proton on the left, and the two kids on the right who seem to be contemplating whether to dunk the other kid into the pond (in my day, we wouldn’t have contemplated). (Btw, made you squint!)

PFS is really a great place, and the sheer expanse of the place is best viewed at the website. I spent my secondary education here, then was a temporary teacher, guest activity coach, and a committee member in the Old Frees’ Association. As a student, I was once (ok, trice) summoned for inciting unrest… and held four positions in the Editorial Board. As a teacher, organized field trips… and set stuff on fire. Heh heh.

For better or for worse – actually both but thankfully more so for the former – there’s nothing matching the pride Frees have in their school. And as a teacher there’s no better place for impacting minds and attitudes, and occasionally have students become your pals – in both ways; I’ve learned so much from and am close to both my old teachers and some of my old students.

Three of the many interesting people I remember from school:

1. The elderly cleaning lady, who’s just Mak Cik to me. She was in school in more recent years, say from about 2001, but I didn’t see her in my last visit. Some bad hats in school (with 1,500, you get some, ok) once threw stuff at her, and when she reported it to me she said that it’s not that she’s angry, but somebody should know, and hopefully things would get better. Her kids are doctors and accountants who had no idea she was there, and she said that well, she liked to earn things herself and not rely on others. She’s as much a Free to me as anyone, and a grand example to students.

2. Mrs Amrik, my literature teacher. Even students who were in trouble with just about every other figure of authority listened to her. Retired HM, who invited the whole class to her house over the weekend, where we spent an hour watching a movie of Macbeth, an hour having lunch, and two hours in the sun at the gate, where we were supposed to be leaving but ended up having earnest conversations about understanding why some people are the just the way they are. She now runs Jaipur Court, a northern Indian restaurant in Leith Street, Penang.

3. During my teaching time, the anonymous kid who rammed into me by accident while running full speed around a corner. I was sleepy and needed to wake up anyway, dude, so it’s cool, whoever you are.


tsh said...

fantastic post.. only a Free would understand.. and i'm wholly glad it is so.

"once a Free, always a Free; never an Ex-Free, just an Old Free"

Fortis Atque Fidelis, my brother!

~tengman.k.~ said...

aargh. what with you two fellas posting about pfs... too much nostalgia, only the last trip back reminded me that i should be letting go.

Forte atque Fidelis too! :p