A few years ago, I was asked by an insurance sales lady out for coffee. Mainly because she wanted to sell me insurance, and not to chat. But she found out that I already had my own insurance plan (I can’t even remember how she obtained my number) – but anyway, since I wasn’t going to buy what she was selling, the meeting turned from a sales pitch to just two people talking to each other. Mostly she talked, because she seemed to have a lot to say. I can’t remember everything she said, but I clearly remember thinking to myself that day, “hmm, are old people inherently this interesting?”. Prior to that day, I hadn’t had conversations with many old people (I still haven’t), and so I was just amazed at how much she could talk and keep me engaged throughout the whole conversation.
She spoke about her childhood, her family, kids, life etc. Some of the stuff that I had experienced myself growing up, but most of it stuff I hadn’t heard before. It was fascinating. We finished our coffee that day, and I went home feeling happy because I had made a new friend. Anyway, we haven’t spoken to each other since then, but every birthday I’ve had since then, she hasn’t failed me to send me a greeting. I don’t know if it’s an automated message or if she takes the time to craft a message every year (and for every one she knows) but I do know it was unnecessary of her to do so.
Anyway, I didn’t intend to spend this post talking about her.
Last night, I was watching a Merdeka special on TV. And on the TV program, some old people were being interviewed by the host about what it was like to be around during Merdeka. The interviewees were describing what they felt, what it was like being there, what happened and so on.
It made me realize that people who weren’t alive back then wouldn’t have been able to tell you about an experience like that in such detail. Sure, you might hear second/third-hand encounters about the event.
But it’s not the same.
And just like not many people can share about what it was like to be alive during that time, nobody else but me can tell you what it was really like on my first day of school.
I remember the first day of school for me. Not every single detail since I don’t have photographic memory, but it’s probably the earliest memory I can recall. Honestly, I can’t tell you what happened to me before kindergarten.
Anyway, my first day of school was exciting – and scary at the same time. I was dressed up in uniform, put into the back of my mom’s car with my backpack, and driven to some unknown location in Maluri. My mother parked the car, took my hand and walked me to what would be my home room for the following year.
I don’t remember the faces in the class that day, but I remember my mother introducing me to the teacher, the teacher introducing me to the class, and seating me down in the room.
At this moment, a feeling of dread started creeping over me. I didn’t know why, but I felt that something bad was going to happen. My mom then said goodbye to me and started walking away from the classroom as the teacher shut the door. I felt the tears starting to well up.
No, no, no, this can’t be happening!
“Mom!” I yelled out. I’m sure the entire class must have been looking at me and wondering what the hell I was making a fuss about.
“I want my mommy!” I yelled as I ran towards the classroom door.
My teacher, Mrs. Chang, held me back and engaged the lock on the door knob.
I ran around her, grabbed the door knob, turned to unlock it and pulled the door open.
She pulled me back, shut the door, locked it, and closed the latch which was too high for me to reach.
“Shh… don’t worry, George. Your mommy will be back later. Go and sit down with the other children,” my teacher tried comforting me.
“NO! I want my mommy!”
My eyes frantically searched around the room for a way out, I saw a window and ran towards it.
No, I wasn’t trying to jump out of it, but it was open and I could see my mother walking towards the car.
She turned around, saw me, smiled and waved. She thought I was saying goodbye.
“Mommy!!” I bawled.
She turned and continued towards the car.
I couldn’t hold the tears back anymore. They started pouring out my eyes, onto my cheeks. I have an ugly crying face (I know), so it must have been quite a sight. I wasn’t going to let this lady teacher stop me.
I grabbed a small chair which was next to the wall under the window, brought it to the door and started to climb up on it. I had to unlatch the door and get out of here!
My teacher was patient. She had probably experienced this hundreds of times in her teaching career.
Anyway, she grabbed me and pulled me away from the chair.
“Please join the other kids… mommy will come get you later.”
I sat down, still crying, defeated. And I was probably given candy to shut the fuck up.
“Mommy…” I sobbed to myself.
“She’ll come back, I promise.”
I spent the rest of the day just waiting for class to end.