Monday, July 23, 2007

Hostel Life - Part One

Hostel life was the most memorable part of my life. Till this day I vividly remember those days when we lived in a hostel within the school compound at Sultan Ibrahim School (SIS) in Pasir Mas, Kelantan. I had the opportunity to experience life in the the same hostel twice. The first time was when I was in standard six way back in 1963 and again when I was in form 4 in 1967 till I left the school after completing my form five that was after doing my School Certificate and Malaysian Certificate Examination in 1968.

The same hostel catered for both the primary and the secondary school. As such there was a mix from the smallest from standard one to form 5 later from the sixth form living in the hostel. Later the school opened up Sixth Form classes for the Malay medium students. English medium students had to go to Sultan Ismail College in Kota Bharu to do their sixth form and sit for the Higher School Certificate examination.

During my first stint at the hostel, the hostel master was Mr Vijaya Samaravickrama. Mr Vijaya was my class teacher when I was in Special Malay Class 1 and teaches us again when I was in Standard Six.

Each hostelite was given a a bed. Its either a lower berth or the upper ones depending on the availability. They were the Vono Steel double decker beds. The seniors will ofcourse had the first choice. You have to bring your own beddings including mattress, pillow, bedsheet, blanket and pillow covers. The kind of matress you bring depended on how wealthy you are. The son of an Army captain brought a dunlopillo mattress with a matching pillow. Others mostly own locally made kapok mattress and pillows. Making up bed is the most important ritual in the morning. An inspection by the hostel prefect on duty with everyone standing by their bed ensured that all beds are made before going to breakfast. Bedsheet must be unruffled and the sides firmly tucked under the matress. The blanket must also be neatly folded and placed on the end where we lay our feet when we sleep. Anybody who failed to make up bed will be punished by the prefect and made to clean up the toilet the next day much to the enjoyment of the persons who were on roster duty for the day to clean up the toilet. The toilet will be inspected too to ensure that those on roster did it properly. Failure means having to do it again before being allowed to go for breakfast.

Another personal allocation is the cupboard for the seniors and cubicles for the juniors or kids. The cubicles are also known as lockers. This is where our personal belongings were kept. The prefect may also announce a locker inspection and everyone will standby their lockers to for inspection. This ensured that lockers were neatly kept at all times.

Another regulation maintained during Mr Vijaya's time was for every hostelite to have their own set of fork and spoon for dinner. This is personally owned and used for dinner. Everyone are required to use for and spoon during dinner. Dinner was a quiet affair and no onle is allowed to speak during dinner. Even noise from the fork and spoon is not allowed. So evryone must observe the best way to use the fork and spoon so that no noise is produced. When things got noisy, a sharp rebuke from the hostel headboy or from one of the prefect at the main table never failed to bring complete silence.

This habit was inculcated in us so early in life that till this day I am still observing it and passing it on to my children. How annoyed I would be if I were to hear people eating with loud noise when using the fork and spoon in a restaurant. It shows a poor upbringing of the person involved.

For those who were on roster for the day must also water the flowers using either watering cans or water hoses. The older students usually get to use the hoses and the poor small kids had to carry the watering cans or pails.
Those who are not assigned to do watering the flowers were free to play games or practice for the sport events.

Preps or study is done after dinner. Everybody must be in prep class. A hostel prefect will take care of one group which did their prep in the school classrooms. They will only be released at 10.00 pm to go back to the hostel. Lights would be out at 11.00 pm.

Very few of us could afford to send our clothes to be washed by cleaners. Those who love to wash daily do it whenever they were free. Weekends were washing days for most

Once a week we had a free day. The free day bagan on Friday night. Freedom means we were free to go out of the school compound but not allowed to go home. The free day will continue until 6.00 pm on Saturday. Sunday was a school day in Kelantan.

Such were the regulations in a hostel. The hostel prefect were the enforcer and not many dared to break them. Some who dared to sneak out to town on non free nights found their beddings outside the hostel the next day and were told to move out of the hostel by the hostel master. thats how we were disciplined in those days.

I left the hostel after the Standard Six Examination.

Part 2 will be about my second stint in the hostel some years later when i was in form 4.

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