The time now is 10.35 pm and I am in my room listening to David Gray’s “A new day at midnight”, with the Egyptian musk Tulasi flavor incense burning-producing the exotic smell roaming the air I breath…and I am writing yet again another chapter of my life. Nothing interesting happens really, just the same old same old story. I am still here. Unless I go live in Africa or road tripping through the South America continent or listening to Buena Vista Social Club in downtown Havana, I consider nothing really happening.
Last weekend I was away to the East Coast of Malaysia. Kuantan, the capital of one of the east coast state, Pahang, suppose to be the biggest state in terms of land in Malaysia (mostly rainforest jungle) is where the event is happening.
I must admit it’s my first time landing my feet on the soil of Pahang or Kuantan. I must admit I enjoyed the road trip or the journey from KL to Kuantan so much more than I enjoyed Kuantan. The scenery and serendipity view of the rainforest greens and hazy view on the mountain side along the highway makes my journey even more bluesy. Joe & I were in one car and Jais, Bernard & Lawrence was in another. We were the only guys that representing our company to this event; Exxon Mobil Road safety competition. It’s a annual event where oil tanker drivers (of various sizes) compete their ability to control the monstrous vehicle and they were being tested on parallel parking, turning point, reversing, road challenges etc. The winner would get to represent Exxon Mobil Malaysia to compete with drivers of Exxon Mobil from all around the world, which to be held early next year in Japan. My company, together with other tank design and fabricators and components suppliers were invited to showcase our pride and joy. Big shots of Exxon Mobil, haulers, fabricators from China, Singapore, USA, Thailand, Australia, Hong Kong and Philippine etc were there to check and inspect these toys (the monstrous trucks).
It was a hot and shiny affair. The weather was hot; it burns like hell freezes over. And to make it even worse, the site of the competition was located very near to the East coast beach. Yeah, you can guess how the wind spread the humidity all around us.
Anyway, Kuantan! While the name of the town may sound dull and pretty dead (Yes, you got it all right), it did refresh some early memories of mine. I did associate myself with Kuantan at least for a while and it once really mean a lot to me.
And of course it is about a girl. Now, this was my first crush! The first ever and ironic is I didn’t even know what “crush” means at that time. I was only ten years old. Yeah man, believe it or not I actually had a crush on this teacher when I was in standard 4.
The year was somewhere in 1990s and came along the batch of young bunch of teachers (to be) from Maktab Penguruan (Institute of teaching) something something…
I think if I remember correctly, her name is Ms. Fong and of course she’s from Kuantan. I was 10 and she was either 19 or early 20s. She got short and straight dark color hair (shoulder length) and she would wear normal teacher type of dress or sometime during activities in the weekend she would wear semi carrot light blue jeans and school shirt where the end of shirt would be knotted with the Maktab cap on it. As much as I can remember, she got a sweet face and pretty fair. Of course I was not the only boy who had a crush on her.
Looking back, my God, I was only ten and surprise that I actually did lot of effort to get her attention and of course I did. We did spent lot of time under the tree, near the football field having conversation about family and of course, obviously- about homework. (hell like I was interested) Ha ha..
To me I had that feel good factor, talking to my favorite teacher and of course to her, must had been merely talking to a kid whom puberty is still a long way to come. Foolish I know but it did happen. I actually enjoyed her class and her being around. She would write wishing cards and brought present for me (with hope to encourage me being a better pupil I suppose). And six month period passes like a wind.
My crush was much more different and than I thought. I actually felt sad when I learned that her training period about to end and was about time to go back to…Kuantan!
She signed on my year book and the last I remember I was so down sad that she is leaving. She did give me her lovely photo for remembrance (but was stolen by a Malay guy name Fahmy). I was even sadder then, because not only she is going back, but the only tool of remembrance I can cherish was being stolen as well.
The story didn’t end here. I told my dad I need some money to buy a farewell gift for Ms. Fong and I really wanted to give it to her before she took on that bloody bus back to Kuantan. With my knowledge limitation on geography, Kuantan then seems like a light year away from Penang. So my dad actually took me on the lousy Suzuki 120CC bike (the one that will definitely awaken the neighborhood if he coming back at night) to nearby Lai Lai supermarket to buy some gift. With few bucks donations I got from my dad, I brought a talcum powder (if I remember correctly) as a farewell gift.
The day was Saturday and she was schedule to leave on that very day. And I was very determined to see her for one last time as well as to give her the talcum powder. But when I reached there, it felt like a world is coming down on me when I found out that the bus left. I think I cry or did shed a tear. My first crush crash! I blamed on my dad’s lousy motorbike- for not fast enough. I was so sad when I reached home.
And it was really tough to be that young boy being disappointed that way. And at that time I really hate adults. My mum shows some sympathy but at the same time she was also laughing at the facts that I had a crush on this teacher. And of course the merciless adults were making fun of me. But in the end I think my Mum did say something encouraging or at least hopeful, you know the wishful thinking kind of story to make me convince that I will see her again.
About a month after she left, she sent me a letter- the type of letter that praising me that I was a good boy kind of crap and that I should be concentrating on my homework (and not other silly thing). She said in the letter she liked me like a brother she never had and stuff. I wish I could write the whole letter out but nah, where the hell is the letter I don’t know. The point is she realizes that I had a crush on her and mine was somewhat further compare to the other boys.
It’s amazing that boy at the age of ten can had a crush, on the teacher. Maybe the boy was confused between filial love for Mum, dad & siblings and agape love for friends. Obviously Eros love is definitely not scripted in the boy’s dictionary yet.
Looking back at this growing up story makes me feel somewhat happy. After all, growing up to me is the best time of my life and phases of life I will never stop cherish. The time spent in the wood, river, smoking with friend on top of his roof or with my brother (stolen from dad’s pack- it was Lucky Strike mind you) and the entire silly yet crazy things boys do when growing up. I will do this in another time another day.
With that I say peace!