Fond memories of KBPS Class of 1968
The excitement was already in the air some three weeks before Saturday, 22 April 2017, the day when the excitement came to grandeur in a reunion gathering of the “Class of 1968” schoolmates of Kaki Bukit Primary School (KBPS). It has been almost half a century, how time flies…
It all started when Mdm Mariati Johari, popularly known as Hajah Mariati Johari, Director of Institute of Aromatherapy Enhancement Pte Ltd, Singapore, started the ball rolling by creating a chat group that first consisted of a few people, including me, their form-teacher of Primary 6A. Soon, the number swelled to include overseas members – from Abu Dhabi, Perth and Kuala Lumpur.
Fourteen people, including me, attended the reunion gathering at Hajah Mariati’s business premises. They are:
Mdm Mariati Johari, Mr Jamal Rahim, Mdm Norjah Arrifin and Mr Omar Mattar.
Mr Suhaimi Bari, Mdm Rohani Rahim, Mr Zohri Ali and Mdm Khadijah A.Kareem.
Mdm Zainab Marican, Mr Isa Adam, Mdm Kasmah Latif and Mr Iskandar Sabirin.
Mdm Junainah Hassan and Mr Shaik Kadir, writer of this article.
My memory of the people who attended the grand reunion gathering that auspicious Saturday, goes way back to 1964.
The year 1964 was certainly memorable for me because it was the year when I first started my working life after leaving Secondary 4 in 1963. I started work in April of that year as a trainee-teacher, attending a 3-year part-time teacher-training course at the former Teachers’ Training College at Paterson Road.
Three years later, in 1967, I became the class teacher of Pri 5A. I enjoyed teaching this class. There was a small-sized Malay boy, Muhammad Bin Zamawi; and there was a lanky Indian girl, Leela Devi, both always vied for the two top positions in the class examinations.
The following year (1968), I followed the same class of students to Pri 6A. I taught all subjects (English, Mathematics and Science) except music and physical education as these subjects were handled by specialised teachers. Everyone in my class passed the Primary School Leaving Examination. I was overjoyed. That year was also my last year of teaching in a primary school, after five wonderful years of teaching primary school children.
In 1992, I went for the Haj (Pilgrimage to Mecca) which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam for those who can afford the cost and health. One of the rituals was to be performed in Mina, and one night there, while trying to sleep for the night, a pilgrim on the adjacent bed, who I met there for the first time, and I chatted for a while. He told me his name – Faisal Abdullah Fernandez, a convert to Islam, and asked me where I was working. I told him that in my early working days, I was a teacher in Kaki Bukit Primary School and taught Primary 6A in 1968. Surprised, he told me his wife was a student there and mentioned her name. But, I couldn’t recall her. We exchanged our home telephone numbers and took photographs of us for remembrance of our meeting in Mina.
A couple of weeks after we returned from the Haj, I received a call from a lady who identified herself. She was Mr Faisal’s wife, Ms Rohani Rahim. She called to ascertain if I was her teacher as my name sounded familiar to her, and that started my friendship with the couple. In 2010, Rohani and her other classmates arranged for a KBPS-1968 reunion gathering at the condo of Junainah Hassan. I was invited.
Some years ago, Rohani was posted to Abu Dhabi and she still works there. Her husband passed away in that city. In our remembrance of him we shall, at this point in time, silently recite the Fatiha and doa for Allah’s Blessings on his soul.
When Rohani heard from Mariati about the second reunion of their classmates, she flew to Singapore for the occasion. Omar, who has migrated to Australia, also flew in with his wife, Elizabeth. Another of their classmates, Mohamad Nasir Said, who lives in Kuala Lumpur, was also eager to join the gathering, but he could not make it.
A few pictures of the members of “Class of 1968” when they were in Kaki Bukit Primary School were circulated. Some of them are reproduced as follows:
Music and physical exercises (PE) were conducted by specialised teachers. The 6-person group photo shows Kasmah (second from left), Norjah (third) and Rohani (sixth). The girl on Rohani’s right, Jariyah Ahmad, was always third in position in the class examinations. She passed away a few years ago – and, in our remembrance of her, we shall now silently recite the Fatiha and doa for Allah’s Blessings on her soul.
First photo: Omar as a “Bar Girl”; second photo: Omar as a “Chetty” complete with sarung pulikat and an umbrella; and in the third photo: Omar as an “Invisible Man”, so need not waste time in trying to locate him!
Some of the schoolmates of “Class of 1968” when they were in Primary 3A with Ms Amina Jani, their class-teacher.
When the mood of the reunion get-together mounted, someone suggested something in pantun-style and the writer of this article, SK, threw in a couple of replies as appetisers and the initiative developed into a pantun (poem) contest in which no one won any top prizes but all the five entries, judged by Mdm Khairon Mastan, wife of the writer, were deemed worthy of being declared winners. All the seven pantuns, two by SK and five entries, are as follows:
Pantun initiation by SK
(1) “Memori rakan sekolah Kaki Bukit Primary”
Kita berkenalan dari Sekolah Rendah Kaki Bukit
Keinginan bertemu dengan semua sentiasa di ingini
Alhamdullillah, keiginan itu menjadi realiti sedikit
Jadi, marilah kita bergembira pada Hari Sabtu ini
(2) “Selamat datang Omar dan Rohani”
Disana Omar, disini Rohani
Ditengah-tengah Omar punya isteri
Bersatu hati, berhati murni
Mereka dah datang ke negeri sendiri
Entry 1: “Pantun mengenalkan teman”
Sir Kadir guru kita sekolah primary
Orangnya tegas mengajar penuh makna…
Memang Rohani balik kenegeri sendiri…
Tapi Omar datang sebagai foreigner…
– Iskandar Sabirin
Entry 2: “Kenangan Memori Rakan-rakan KBPS”
Satu dua tiga dan empat
Lima enam tujuh dan lapan
Memori kita ini bertempat
Bergolek ketawa di-perjumpaan.
– Jamal Rahim
Entry 3: “Kawan tertawa…padan muka”
Itik jalan terkedek kedek
Push up!!! di tepi sekolah tangga
Cik Gu nampak Omar makan keledek
Murid2 nampak ketawa berdekah dekah!!
– Mariati Johari
Entry 4: “Rindu serindu-rindu nya”
Omar dan isteri dah sampai dulu,
Esok nya pula Rohani Rahim;
Perjumpaan kawan sekolah di hari Sabtu,
Untuk mengeratkan silatul rahim.
– Khadijah Abdul Kareem
Entry 5: “Bersua kembali teman2 persekolahan”
Omar di-Perth, Rohani di Abu Dhabi
Sama2 jauh tak pernah bersua
Sekarang mereka dah sampai di-sini
Tiba esok happy2 semua hendak bersama
– Junainah Hassan
The day of the grand reunion get-together party, held on Saturday, 22 April, 2017, was held at Mariati’s business venue, “Institute Of Aromatherapy Enhancement Pte Ltd”, at Grandlink Square in Guillemard Road.
Omar Mattar, who flew in from Perth, his hometown, came with his innovative initiative for each us – an autograph card and a souvenir keychain.
This autograph card made by Omar is given to everyone present for the group members’ signatures and keeping. Omar also gave each person a keychain as a souvenir.
“A reunion meeting is a great way to catch up with old friends, relive old memories and enjoy a day of fun. Some students of Class 1968 first met seven years ago, in 2010. Since last year, we have been clamouring for another reunion. Junainah Hassan and I made efforts to search for our other “lost” friends, and we gathered in a WhatsApp group. We fixed a date, and finally we met, at my venue. By meeting almost 50 years later, we picked up where we left off when we were children in Primary 6.Our honoured Sir Kadir, our Form Teacher of Primary 6A, was invited, and all of us had a great time together. I must say, it was the best reunion we had. I wish and doa that all my friends and Sir Kadir a blissful and blessed life till Jannah.” – Mariati Johari
“I was excited to meet my long lost schoolmates, whom we have not met since we left Kaki Bukit Primary School in 1968, in the reunion gathering in April. When we met, there were hugs and tears in some eyes for getting this opportunity to meet on this memorable day. We appreciate the warm hospitality of Mariati who hosted the reunion party at her shop. It was also nice of Omar to fly from Australia and Rohani from UAE to meet us. Omar also made a memorabilia card with our Primary 3 class group photo printed on it for everyone to sign and keep as a memento. We also got a souvenir key chain from him. Thanks Omar. Our class teacher, Mr Shaik Kadir was also present. We salute you, Sir Kadir.” – Khadijah Bt Abdul Kareem
“I was quite excited and nervous on the day of the reunion gathering. When I was at the door, I saw the people inside. I didn’t recognise them but they were smiling at me. They recognised me from my photo which I had sent in our WhatsApp group before we met. A man came up to me and hugged me. After 50 years of not seeing or contacting my classmates – because I live in Australia – I was happy and glad to meet up with them. After we broke the ice, we laughed, we joked and we reminisced about our school days. Also, l thank our class teacher, Mr Kadir, for joining us. He is so friendly.” – Omar Mattar who lives and works in Perth, Australia.
“Our last year in primary school was 1968 and after that I kept in touch with only a few of my classmates of that year when we were in Primary 6A. An opportunity to meet some other 1968 schoolmates came in 2010 in a reunion gathering. The feeling of renewing friendship developed further. Then, in March this year, we searched for more “lost” schoolmates via Facebook and “found” some more. I was indeed excited about the April gathering. We met on 22 April. It was a simple but meaningful reunion. In this reunion, I met Iskandar, Omar and Jamal for the first time. I respect everyone, and we are now active in our WhatsApp group.” – Rohani Rahim who works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Mr Mohammad Nasir
“To reunite after being separated for about 50 years is something unexpected. Nevertheless, the reunion took place in April. My primary school friends and our beloved form-teacher, Mr Shaik Kadir, met at this reunion get-together. Coincidentally a few months ago I said to myself how nice it would be if I could meet my teacher and primary school friends in Singapore. I was longing to meet them. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the reunion gathering because my beloved father was seriously ill in hospital. I yearned to meet Mr Shaik Kadir and my primary school friends in person. I am looking forward to seeing all of them in the next reunion, insya Allah.” – Mohamad Nasir bin Said, who lives and works in Kuala Lumpur
I am touch by the above poem written by Khadijah. I must also say I enjoyed the reunion get-together event, and I thank you all for the respect and honour given to me as your former teacher. Here’s a short poem for you:
As tonight (Friday, 26 May, 2017) begins the blessed Islamic month of Ramadan, I take this opportunity to wish you all: KBPS Class class of 1968 and all Muslim readers, Ramadan Mubarak (Have a Blessed Ramadan) and Selamat Berpuasa (Happy fasting) from tomorrow.
Addenda: Salam friends, there are two surprises for you and I am inserting them as an addenda to this article, indicated as Addendum 1 and Addendum 2. They are:
Addendum 1: Who do you think I met last night (28 May)?
It’s one of your classmates who was not present in the Class of 1968 reunion get-together on 22 April.
After the terawih prayers at Masjid Kassim last night, as I was crossing the road in front of it, I heard a voice calling, “Cikgu!” I turned around and saw Rashid Misgon, one of your 1968 classmates. We talked excitedly, and I then asked him why he was not present in the Class of 1968 reunion get-together in April, to which said he was unaware of it and would have attended if known.
Rashid gave me a lift and sent me home. In his car, we talked briefly about our meeting in Kuala Lumpur last December (2016). Yes, I happened to meet Rashid in the Malaysian capital. I was with Ms Dewani Abbas, a Berita Harian journalist, who is also a former KBPS student of mine (Primary 5 in 1966) and who I coincidentally met in 1982 when she interviewed me for getting a Fellowship Award for an attachment with Sydney Times, Australia. We became family friends since that time, and we used to travel together to India and China and even for Umrah in 2012. In December last, Dewani, her husband and her husband’s relative, me and my wife went for a holiday to Penang and stayed one night in Kuala Lumpur. It was there that we met Rashid who was with his wife, and they joined us for breakfast and lunch.
With Rashid and Dewani in Kuala Lumpur in December last year (2016), and with Rashid in his car last night (27 May).
Rashid conveys his salam (Islamic greeting) to everyone present in the get-together.
Addendum 2: Isa Adam’s compliment of his former teacher
Isa and his wife, Mdm Tania Anis.
Isa Adam, who was present in the Class of 1968 reunion get-together on 22 April, placed two messages in my Facebook. The messages are:
(1) To My Dearest Teacher Mr Shaik Kadir. It takes a big heart to shape little minds. As a student’s a teacher always takes a hand, opens a mind and touches our heart, always encouraging, inspiring, hardworking, dedicated and supportive. THANK YOU SIR for being so helpful, enthusiastic, patience, kind and a caring model. We may not say this everyday but your inspirational words are like a beautiful footprints that have been etched in our hearts and minds forever. You “SIR” a truly amazing hard to find and impossible to FORGET. Teachers like you are ONE in a million. Thank you forever so very much!
(2) “Thank You Sir Shaik Kadir for being the best teacher for always being kind for making lessons fun for showing us new things and for helping us to G R O W. Amin !”
Once again, Ramadan Mubarak to all.
26 May 2017
(1 Ramadan 1438 H)