Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hostel Life - Part 3 The Final Year.

The final year in school and also meant the final year in the hostel. It was 1968 and the school received its first intake of 6th formers. Since there was already form 6 classes in Sultan Ismail College in Kota Bharu for the English medium classes, our school Sultan Ibrahim Secondary School started its form six to cater for the Malay medium students from all over Kelantan. If I were to join the 6th form classes for my Higher School Certificate, I will have to go to Sultan Ismail College.

This was the year my class of fifth formers was facing the School Certificate of Examination as well as the Malaysian Certificate of Examination. Two cerificates in one examination sitting. (I am still vague about the concept but what I know is that if you fail the English subject you wont get the School Cerificate).

Due to peer pressure among the hostelites, we studied hard for the examination. Most of us studied late into the night. Towards the end of the year we could discern each others sunken eyes due to lack of sleep. Particularly noticeable was Gani Senik's skin which became so loose that it could be pulled against the flesh. That is really hardwork. I took a much less strenous approach and didnt burn the midnight oil too much until very near the examination itself. I was too busy with my co curriculum activities.

The teachers had abandoned their boycot of the extracurricular activities and we seemed to be making up for lost times. The calendar was full of activities. All school societies were moving at full speed. Every weekends were slated for at least an activity, sometimes two. So much so that we were hard up for a place to hold our activities and even the hostel canteen was made a venue.

The hostel was located withion the school fenced up compound and just next to the school field. Most of the hostelites were active in sports and were represented in every almost sport. An obvious sportman was the late Abas Akbar. He was an icon of a sportman and excelled in almost every sport, be it athletics or team games.

Once a week we had free nights where we were free to do our own things. We could opt not to study on that particular night. One particular free night we had nothing better to do and we were hungry. Some of us decided to collect unripe 'bachang' fruits (a poor cousin of the mango with thick skin and large seed. Half of the pulp is fibrous nevertheless quite nice to eat when ripe) on a tree at the fringe of the school field. The field is a common field shared together with the primary school. It so happened that the particular 'bachang' tree was more on the primary school side and almost immediately infront of the semi-detached quarters occupied by both the primary and secondary school headmasters.

Mr. Ahmad Rahman, the primary school headmaster was the first to notice our group of raiders and he informed our headmaster of what we were doing. The late Mr Yusoff Ghouse was our headmaster (He was the father of Puan Marina Yusoff the famous lawyer cum politician). He came towards us and told us to go back to the hostel. He told us there were ghosts on the 'bachang' tree which of course we didnt believe. Out of respect we backed off carrying with us the few fruits that were plucked down by the climbers. Everything would have gone off peacefully if not for the realization that one of the three climbers was still on the tree. He was Ibrahim Hussein.

Some of us decided to go and look him up. Instead of just a few, almost all of the 60 hostelites followed and the noise made was so loud that Mr Yusoff Ghouse thought we were defying his orders to leave the fruit tree alone. Ibrahim Hussein was indeed still on the tree shaking with fright and couldnt climb down. He was coaxed to climb down from the tree. By then Mr Yusoff Ghouse was already running after us. Pandemonium broke loose and we ran helter skelter in every directions. He angrily chased us. He tried to catch one of us but we were too fast for an old man of his age. The school compound was our home and even in the darkness of the night we could run away and hide from him behind the many school buildings. At one point he was banging on the door of one of the classrooms thinking that we were hiding in one, where as we were actually hiding behind the building. He finally went back to the hostel building and surprise of all surprises he managed to catch hold of one of us by the name of Nik Hasan Nik Mat. (Nik Hassan's last post was a DSP at Shah Alam Police Contingent). Nik Hassan could have easily eascaped from the HM's hold had he wanted to but out of respect he apoligized to him and followed him.

With Nik Hasan in his hold he called the hostel master Mr. G. Thanda and asked us to gather in the school teacher's common room. Prior to the gathering, Mr. Thanda asked us to meet in the hostel's canteen as he wanted to know the reason for all the fracas. He called on me to speak up. I told him that 'it was sheer panic' that we ran away when the headmaster came after us after we went to rescue Ibrahim Hussein from the tree. He gave us his fatherly smile and we know that he wasn't angry with us. After all we were a bunch of hungry young boys on a free night and we didnt mean any harm. The noticeable absence in the meeting with the hostel master was Aziz Ahmad (Major retired) who chose to esacpe by climbing over the school fence to avoid being caught. Aziz Ahmad was one of the hostel's prefect. There and then Mr. Thanda stripped him of the hostel's prefectship.

We were gathered in the teacher's common room at the school. It was almost midnight. One by one we were made to bend over and had our butt caned by Mr. Thanda. The number of strokes depended on the age and size of the boy. The smallest and youngest from the primary school received one stroke depending on the command from the headmaster. The bigger ones received 5 strokes. When it came to Abbas Akbar's turn the HM said "that boy is a big bull, give him five". We know Mr. Thanda was pulling the punches because he was using the middle of the cane instead of the tip of it and the blow was not at full strength. The HM realized it and he wanted to take over the caning. "If you dont know how to cane, let me cane them myself". Of course Mr. Thanda wouldn't let him but instead made it appear that he was hitting us harder.

If the Malaysian Guiness Book of records was in existence then, this could have easily be entered as a record as the largest number of pupils (more than 50) being caned in one session for the same offence. I dare say that this record will never ever be bettered anywhere anytime.

At the school assembly the next Sunday, the HM announced what happened but he obviously omitted telling the real cause of the pandemonium. He told the assembly that he had never been made to run that much in his life. Other than the hostel students, the rest of the assembly was very vague on what really happened on that night.

That was the most memorable event in my hostel life. I would like to put this as a record for all who were involved to cherish and maybe relive the event with their children or even the grand children. Since Mr. Ahmad Rahman who hailed from Penang chose to reside in Pasir Mas after his retirement, I will meet him to tell the whole story before the coming Hari Raya.

The exam came at the end of the year. When the result was released at the early part of 1969, 13 of us from the hostel passed the exam with a grade one in at least one both the SC and MCE. Quite an achievement for students who were very active in sports and other extra curricular activities.

The old wooden hostel was later demolished after a double storey new building was built to replace it. To many of us and the former teachers, the old hostel building was home for some years of our life. Camaraderie and brotherhood was instilled among us as a family away from home. Memories of our life then will forever be cherished.


Unknown said...

There you are. Being 'rotanned'' ehh! It was not a fuss then.

Stealing fuits were common those days. They were mostly out of shee fun. Not at the present. Teenagers now go for motorcycles, car hi-fi sets and even house breaking.

see the difference?

Pak Zawi said...

Tuan Haji Azmi,
We were not stealing the fruits since the tree was growing in the school compound. Whowas the owner then? The school or the HM's? I think, the HM feared our safety at the thought of us falling down from the tree since it was done during the night.
The fruits were still under ripe. We wanted to have it as 'colek macahng'.
I believe non of you non hostelites know about what happened right?

J.T. said...

Hi Zawi

I've just noticed your new post - been a little too busy for blog hopping the past two days.

It is almost midnight here. I will be back tomorrow to read and comment.

Keep well, Zawi.

Pak Zawi said...

I know you would come. Come back after you have a good night sleep.
Read this email from one of the hostel mates by the name of Ghani Senik.
It is really interesting. I laughed aloud alone in my big room. My staffs came over...puzzled. I told them I recieved an e-mail depicting a very memorable event during our hostel life in Pasir Mas, more than 40 yrs ago. Zawawi...I think you should extend or reactivate sis website dulu and put this on site. Zawawi...again I would like to congrutulate you for are an execellent writer can turn it into a fortune if you are really serious.


J.T. said...

Hi Zawi

I'm back. This is a good write up of your hostel life. I agree with Encik Ghani - you are an excellent writer.

50 boys being caned in one session for the same offence is a record. I've never heard of so many at one go. :)
Back in the 80s, some schools were still practicing public caning. I cannot remember when they stopped it. Whenever public caning took place at La Salle Klang, the girls at the Convent School would hear about it in no time.

Speaking of not stealing fruits because it was growing in the school compound, I now recall my cousin's so-called wisdom about a rambutan tree near my grandma's house in Bandar Hilir, Malacca. The shop owner had that tree growing from his compound but the branches grew over the fence and the fruits were within reach by the road. We were afraid that the shop owner would scold us if we picked it but my cousin (the eldest of us all) assured us that because the fruits are now out of the fenced area, it belonged to the public! We were gullible and listened to her. Next thing, the shop owner started shouting at us and we ran helter-skelter back to grandma's house ... laughing, of course, with a couple of rambutans in our hands. :D

Pak Zawi said...

Thanks for coming back.
Your cousins reasoning was perfectly right. If we were to dig under the soil we could discern that the roots of the tree reached as far away as the the canopy extended. So the fruit tree was taking nutrient beyond the owners compound (in your case its governments land which is public property). Tok Guru Nik Aziz, the current Chief Minister of Kelantan who is a respected religious scholar had once told an enquirer that it is alright to eat the fruits from a tree whose branches breach into your compound based on the reason that the roots too encroach into the area.
The only problem is the tree's owner never see it that way. Out of stinginess they will dispute this right.
Personally I have a mango tree belonging to to my next door neighbour. He had wanted to prune off the branches since it was jutting into my compound. I told him not to and promised to share the fruits with him should the tree bear them. Since my side of the compound is less crowded with trees, the mango tree often bear alot of fruits on my side of the fence. In that sense it was a win win situation for both of us.
My school compound was surrounded by rambutan trees from the neighbouring villages. The branches bore fruits on the roof of the single storey school buildings. There was no way for the tree owner to harvest the fruits when the trees bore them. The agile ones among us would climb over the roof and harvest the fruits for all to eat. Based on the edict of our chief minister, we were thus not stealing at all.
An act of charity often begets more wealth to the giver so spare not the extras that you may have.

J.T. said...

You wrote:"An act of charity often begets more wealth to the giver so spare not the extras that you may have.

Hear, hear! The more you give, the more you get. Sometimes not only in belongings but the giving of self and time.
My dad tried to instill that in my siblings and me. It was easier said than done but once it was put into action, it became easier each time.

Pak Zawi said...

Bimgo. My late mum was very poor by any standard. Even that never stopped her from giving away anything that she could spare. Fruit trees from the small orchards never fail to bear bountiful harvest some of which were given away free to neighbours,relatives and friends she often visited. Our parents tried to instill in us the joy of giving cos only by giving we will also be given.

Anonymous said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your latest posting! You do have an excellent power of recall and definitely a flair for writing. It has been said that if we live our life well, we can 're-live' it a second time when we look back, or something-like-et!

I wonder what today's children will remember when they look back at their school life one day.I do not support canning or other forms of physical punishment but were you or do you know of any one of your friends traumatised by it? Wonder if any one of you turned into an abusive spouse or father or substance abuser or criminal because of it!!!

I work with young people and to be honest, I'm worried about the direction our society is heading and the future of our country. Many young people I know have no respect for the law, for authority, for elders, for time, for others and ultimately for themselves. Some psychotherapists blame it on toxic parenting & dysfunctional families. What had gone wrong?


Pak Zawi said...

Thanks for commenting. Your visit to my site and comment is really inspiring.
I am definitely reliving my life. I wish i could delete some of the awful ones.
The caning at the hand of mr. Thanda was a mild one. He pulled the punches knowing that we were not really guilty.
When I was in year three in a Malay school way back in my kampong, I was given 2 strokes of the best from a teacher just for peeking into his class. I could feel two deep gullies on my back stretching from end to end. Was I traumatised? I hate that teacher then. Now I have forgiven him but I will never forget his face nor his name.
I believe tha cane can be used in the extreme of cases and sparingly. It should be the ultimate of physical penalties and can only be used on the butt where the short or trousers are of thicker material compared to the shirt. The skin of the butt is less sensitive too. It's a no no on any other part of the body.

Anonymous said...

selamat menjalani ibadah puasa..

Pak Zawi said...

Terima kasih kerana sudi menziarah. Selamat berpuasa juga kepada saudara.

Pak Zawi said...

Ibrahim Hussin emailed me a response after he read the posting. I will paste it here for all to read followed by a translation into English.

Aku baca tapi hok aku ingat aku tak kena rotan oleh Me Tanda malam tu sebab aku dan beberapa orang lagi lari dan sembunyikan diri di belakang sekolah tu.Dan sa lagi semasa puak2 mu gi nak tolong aku tu aku dah turun dari pokok tu bersama2 dgn yg lain.
Mlm tu puak aku selamat.tak kena rotan.hehehe

I read(the blog) but what I remembered was i didnt get caned by Mr Thanda because with afew others rand hid behind the school(building). Another thing, when your group went to help me I had already climbed down from the tree with the other climbers. That night my grouped escaped from being caned. hehehehe,

Grrrrrrr. He had the cheek to laugh when everyones else including small primary kids had themselves caned.

hahahhahahaa really something to reflect up.

Zuera said...

Dad, Angah and me also treasure a lot of memories from our secondary school Sains Machang, Kelantan. We have been naughty but in spite of that I manage to earn best student insaf when I was in form five. I think I never told u before. :)

Pak Zawi said...

Long (Azura)
I know the story. You had the clock as present and I asked mum where that clock came from. Mum told me the story. Just that I didnt want to raise up the issue unless you wanted to tell me. About your brother, i do know that he was made a school prefect because he was hard to control. I heard he was better behaved after becoming a prefect right?

Zuera said...

Definitely. Everything always part of puzzle in life. We learn but we still make mistakes. We will never stop learning tho.........

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Pak Zawi said...

Thank you for visiting my site. How did you come to find out about it?

Anonymous said...


After reading ur tales I am definite that I was in the class of' of the 13 who got grade 1 for both the MCE and OSC .

Funny enough I did not recall the episode where 50 were caned alive for nicking the bacang fruits . I just wonder where I was that particular night .

I can still remember though where hostelites were caned for nicking exam papers and Ibrahim was one of them . Were you one of them too ?

Keep on blogging , I luv to read and reminisce the good old days .

Thanks for the memory .

Old Hostelite

Pak Zawi said...

Thank you for coming back. From your email address I know you are Suhaimi Jaafar, one of the 2 persons we couldn't contact to invite for our SIS 68 gathering. The other one is Muhamad Jusoh (Mat Kucing). We had a grand gathering in 2005 where most of our old teachers came. I would say you missed that one. We are planning to have another one in this year to commemorate our 40th year of SIS 68. Datuk Dr. Mahmud Awang Kechik has promised to support this event but so far nothing definite yet. Hopefully you can make it this time that u know about it.
Thanks to this posting I came to know through one of our PASIS68 that you were the one who 'jirus' on that rainy night which later led me to 'jirus' Tuan Haji Ghani Senik hahahahaha. Never mind all is forgiven but not forgotten.
I can't remember for sure whether you were caned on that night.Maybe Mr. Thanda gave you a light one cos you look small then or you may have escaped over the fence together with Aziz Ahmad.
I am sure glad thatyou enjoyed this remininces and hopefully I will get to write more of those days.
Keep in touch. My email is or just call me at 609 7903785 whenever you are back in Malaysia. This 31st May Che Ahmad Che Daud will be holding a kenduri for his son's wedding in Pengkalan Chepa. He can be cotacted at 0123298774.
Keep in touch.