Coffeetable Book Srikandi

It’s ‘hot’ in the Whatsapp highschool group chat for some time of creating our very own CoffeeTable Book in conjunction with a Diamond Jubilee Celebration. I have no idea when this occasion is or when will the product be launched but a lot of people are excited about it. The team in charge was inviting people for coffee sessions to hear the stories first hand – they even offered questionnaire submissions to the committee.

As someone who sailed on the average length – meaning not that outstanding to be a prefect or any other ‘head’ or not that nakal to give a headache for the teachers – I too was excited about it but hey, let’s just keep it to myself. Ko nak jadi specialist pun sik- agak2 skit bleh.. omputih kata be outstanding on your own terms (pujuk diri sendiri)

I decided to give the questionnaire a go and scrolled through the questions thinking,

oh man.. i am going to have the worst and most boring answer ever. Plus, I’d probably be melalut with my answers.

Pada tahun berapakah anda bersekolah di STF

I was there from 1996 – 2000. I registered myself a bit late because my father had a work related thing to go to. I think it was the LIMA event in Langkawi at the time. So when I arrived, there was no other newbie homesick girl like myself to make a connection with. All I’m met with was blank stares from the seniors who were lazing around in the common room waiting for the weekend to pass. I unpacked my things – we forgot to bring a few personal things and I ended up putting my baju kotor inside a plastic bag. feeling setinggan sangat.

The orientation week went well. made new friends, got interesting inquiries as well like,

‘dah period? have you started wearing a bra?’ and she went on to share her first experience of getting her menses – thank god she did not grope my chest or anything but I was motivated to have breasts and wear a bra!

‘you are from sarawak? are you muslim? do you pray?’ poor girl, I honestly don’t know what your parents have been telling you

Zaman apakah ketika itu? ( hippies, rock, pop yeh yeh)

I have no idea what zaman it was..

Adakah anda mengikuti kelas ‘remove’ dan di mana

I don’t even understand this question.

Siapakah kawan2 di STF yang masih dihubungi? Bolehkah dinyatakan nombor telefon mereka?

I am still in touch with .. 2 of them.

One of them is who I affectionately call as MImie – to her other friends she is Mal Obet. We weren’t really good of friends in school but our friendship blossomed when we were studying at the same medical school in Manchester. It started with her saying’ “hey I read your blog’ to being invited to sit together during discussions, makan2 at her shared home with other students, trips to Egypt and Italy and a concert at Royal Albert Hall watching Siti Nurhaliza. At first it felt awkward to have this ex-pengawas talking to you but of course you later learnt that she was just another human being with normal girly feelings and eats chips for lunch. She once had the nicest intention to hook me up with her then boyfriends friend but well.. it did not work out. I hope she doesn’t feel guilty about it because I’m already married to the best man on Earth and he who-shall-never-be-named  was blueekkkkk.. aku still benci.

It was also in Manchester that I felt privileged to know someone by the name of Azah. Or kakjet as I call her. or Bakkusan as she calls herself. I knew her back in school as a junior by one year and a wonderful Drum Majorette just the same. Who knew behind that serious looking face was a crazi-ly fun woman. Gosh – We started out as housemates – and after a few years of eating home cooked meals together, syok sendiri party-ing together, plucking the grass together and studying together – I couldn’t imagine life without ever knowing her. She and another housemate KakFiza were the few good souls I have ever come across. Friends you’d like to keep for the rest of your life.

Siapakah guru-guru yang mengajar di ketika itu?

Cikgu Kamariah – a young teacher who was my homeroom teacher as well – a guardian angel. We heard she died of a premature heart attack while doing gotong royong at school.

Ustazah Juariah – a very vogue ustazah who apparently sells Nona Roguy as a side business.

And a few others.

Siapakah ketua pengawas yang masih diingati ketika di STF

Naturally the ketua pengawas of my own batch who is now doing very well as HijriaHome founder – the muslimah apparel online store.

Ceritakan pengalaman manis di STF

  • when I had my first period. I keep going to the toilet to check if my blood is flowing on the sanitary pad.
  • Y RIMBA – an acronym for us dormmates when we wrote our novel picisan. The concept was to write our part of the story and pass it over to the next person and continue the cycle. In short we were supposed to have 6 different love stories but we did not manage to finish our tales. Now even I don’t know if I end up marrying the pilot (who crashed and got lost in the sea and came back to claim my love) or the male best friend. Thinking about it.. it’s like hey, I wrote Pearl Harbour in draft format. Ha ha ha.
  • monkeys – our hostel is very near to the forest. Often we would receive beruk as visitors and they tend to get aggressive by opening our lockers and stealing our food. An unexplained joy is when we are able to retrieve our goods and shoo the animals away.
  • movie nights – just so we wouldn’t feel left out from the world outside. Within school grounds and of course with the teachers’ permission – we had premier screenings of Titanic, Ju-on, Thai movies to name a few.
  • khemah ibadat – sleep deprived for a few nights with interesting activities but ended up vomiting in the bus on the way back to the hostel.
  • got accepted into PKBM(L) – lets just say that I survived the 3 step ‘audition’ and it was not an easy feat.
  • PURNAMA – my article got published in the school magazine. I was hoping that my ‘frog’ story got through but the other story was chosen. Perhaps another small writing accomplishment was when a story I wrote for an English exam which ended with a twist got a mention from my English teacher and soon I had friends flocking to my desk asking to read my essay. I felt above average for a while at the time.
  • exam time – ironically that is when the school becomes pious, everybody becomes nice to each other fearing karma and the surau becomes so imarah with chants of prayers and qiam. I loved it.

Bagaimanakah keadaan sekolah ketika itu? (infrastruktur)

Well, we had a roof on our head and a wonderful classroom to study in but W.A.T.E.R was a scarce commodity. The interruptions were horrendous and it hurts even more when you’re on your period. Although we have the reserve water tank behind the hostel – it was shared between a few blocks. And its hard to be in line when bigger, more senior girls keep cutting your queue. So I tried other techniques like waking up super duper early for a shower with the bunians at the water tank. It’s easy like that in the mornings but its difficult in the evening especially after sporting activites where you just sweat like a cute little pig.

This is when I have to resort to my “Satu baldi air sahaja” method. Quite useful for when I’m on my menses too. Instead of joining the crowd at the water tank, I would tadah my one pail of water to its max – carry it to the bathroom very carefully savouring every drop and use it to mandi and do whatever business I need to do with it. For better effect, I use Follow Me Ice Shampoo for that minty icy feeling after that one bucket of water.

I loved my dining hall. In fact I am one of those students who depend on it for my meals everyday. Especially when my pocket money have run out after calling my mom on the phone card booth. My so called allowances was RM80/month and it never got higher than that until I was in Form Five. So if I want to splurge, I have to think many times if it was worth it. Once I had to quit my softball team because relatively, I could not afford the RM50 jersey and I did not have the heart to ask from my father for extra money. I did not tell my team that though – I told them my grades were falling and my parents were mad. So yeah sometimes I feel sad and geram when people cut the queue for meals and take more portions of food than what they are supposed to and end up thrashing it in the bin whilst less fortunate ducklings like us have to manage on dry crackers till lunchtime. I am grateful for my kind dorm mates sometimes, especially those who live in JOhor who are willing to share extra food their parents provide for them. Though I’m not piss poor, I do know how it feels to have nothing at the time.

During my time, the co-op was also expanding and starting to do very well. I enjoyed being part of the committee that helps to run our little store – apart from learning how to do trade, manage customers, brainstorm ideas for things to sell, we also get leftover nuggets from the sales we do after prep hours at night. Nice.

Perhaps there is also one nice ‘infrastructure’ I love at STF. The japanese garden. Although it spells horror, it is one of the most beautiful space to just sit in during the day.

Apakah pencapaian akademik STf yang paling membanggakan ketika anda bersekolah di sana?

hmmmm..

Apakah anugerah dan pencapaian ko-kurikulum yang dicapai STF ketika itu?

hmmmmm…

Ceritakan apakah urban legend yang begitu terkenal ketika anda di STF ataupun yang didengari daripada senior

Roh kuda kepang – my dormitory B1-13 has a few talented dancers in the school and they sometimes bring back their dancing props to the dorm. Juniors are usually placed at the back of the dorm where it gets really dark at night and it does get eerie when they keep their kuda kepang there. Rumours has it that these horses could gallop on their own at night to their own rhythm. I never really heard it but its spooky all the same.

The green lady – need I say more

The Amir Ukays ghost – you know how girls love to sing in showers. Well.. this particular spirit sings to the Seksa song and goes like this ” walaupun… leherku panjang” and a stretched head would come out of the shower cubicle to scare the shit out of you.

KOngsikan sebarang kenakalan melampau anda di STF

There was no kenakalan individu to be precise. I was an angel. I followed the rules to the T . But I did get into trouble as a group.

My batch was often accused of organizing perhimpunan haram. I don’t remember now what were we so angry about back then, but for some reason we decided to rebel and so called demonstrate against authority (teachers & admin)

We also hosted end of year party illegally. This was a crime the whole school gets into including the goody-two shoes. Once when I was in Form Four we got caught by the warden and we had to swim on the floor a few laps as punishment. urghh. did we stop after the punishment? no.. we pretended to clear things away and eating the food at the same time and within an hour, beyond the wardens watchful eyes we resumed where we left off.

Adakah masih menyimpan gambar kenangan di STF

I think so. Tucked in a box somewhere.

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.

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And then the questions stopped. Surely that is not it. I was expecting further questions like;

What do you understand about being a Srikandi? How did STF helped you to embrace the spirit of being  one?

Srikandi to me means a girl of power. The school itself is named after Tun Fatimah – a legendary icon in her own time as one who  Living in an environment fit for any Amazonian woman, forces you to ignite your own #girlpower and manifest it accordingly. We learn in baby steps of how to stand on our very own two feet. We had invisible lessons from the teachers and senior students/alumni alike of how to be poise, educated yet maintain womanly all the same. Every word is an advice. Every form of action if an example suit to follow. We were forced to help and look out for each other even though you hate the other person to bits. Cause if us woman can’t care for each other, no man ever will.

If you could give back to STF and its current srikandis, how would you choose to do it?

Gosh. In comparison to some of my colleagues in the same batch – I am no entrepreneur or a novelist or a public figure. But I would be very delighted to sit down and have a quiet conversation with Srikandi’s who are more introvert in their mannerism – for that is how I see myself. Although its not a popular personality, I feel that any ‘little women’ is allowed to have choices on how they opt to present themselves to other people. And the whole world has the responsibility to recognise, acknowledge and nurture them to their best selves.

I wanted to tell them that you don’t have to always be the one standing on the podium to shake the world. Sometimes all you need is a whisper or a fine pen. Or good typing skills. Ha ha.

What would you wish upon/for our future srikandi when they leave school and venture out into the world?

I wish they can chase their dreams and even if they fail to reach the moon,they can still fall among the stars.

Finally, how would you sum up your experience of studying in STF and the things that you learnt during that small portion of your life there?

It was mind opening – of how so many young girls from all walks of life manage to live together and create a world of their own. Some from privileged backgrounds while some were less fortunate. We learnt to be understanding and have empathy of each other. Despite a handful of rebellious students ( we still call them brave) – we all managed to graduate from high school as functioning human beings. But not just another person in the society – but a Srikandi who could contribute to her family, organization and society in her own way.

We learnt to utilize our strength, control our fears and realize our ambitions. We practiced the art of building bridges and breaking bad ones. To some srikandis, they found religion – to most they have new families in the form of close friends. Either way, there was nothing to lose but a whole lot to gain from our schooling in STF.

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