The journey begins
1976 was an interesting year, particularly on the day I registered at Sekolah Tuanku Abd Rahman (STAR) after a long taxi ride from home. I was accompanied by my late father and the late Pak Cik Hamid, a friend of him who also drove taxi in Melaka. Since its inception, Sekolah Tuanku Abd Rahman STAR has been at Tiger Lane, Ipoh. The then narrow road was later renamed as Jalan Harimau before getting its current name of Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah. Today, it is one of the important link-road for the city of Ipoh.
The first sight of the school jolted my innerself. With its vast green fields, segregated by rows of big trees, and hostels near the perimeter fencings, STAR revealed an aura of eminence. In the background, the green hills stood high and mighty, as part of the backbone of the Malay Peninsular. Some patches of barren limestone can be seen at places. In those days, Ipoh was the home of some marble producing quarry. The sight was beautiful and soothing. My feeling was mixed, difficult to explain. Happy, sad, anxious, worried, tired, inferior, … everything. But I have grown up to be courageous to take up challenges, and that was my new challenge, and I survived. After all, I was a poor Kampung Boy with big agenda to achieve.
On that day, I was hopeful and somehow convinced that there would be a bright future waiting. On that day, I strengthened my determination to weather all the hardships and challenges. Five years in Tiger Lane had taught me many things: knowledge, friendships, values – good and bad. There was much to talk about, lots of happy, sad, funny, challenging situations but let them be part of the untold story, most of which I cherished.
The Last Train Ride (1980)
The government provided us with free ride home at the end of each term, and of course the return trip to Ipoh. For me, I had to take the Butterworth-Kuala Lumpur night train and changed to the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore morning train. We normally departed at about 11 pm from Ipoh and I would reach Tampin Station in the afternoon. I would then walk to the town centre to catch a bus to get to Melaka town, then another bus to Krubong. It was a long journey indeed. Sometimes I got home at 3.30 pm, sometimes at 6.30 pm. The journey was long because neither the trains nor the busses were of nonstop services. They did stop at many places, stations that until today I still remember.
In the early years, each residential school was given a reserve coach. It was an interesting experience because in school, the seniors were bossy and domineering, but during the journey, they were brotherly. This contributed to the strong camaraderie that we finally developed.
For any Starian, the final ride home must have been the most memorable. Most felt sad to leave Tiger Lane. A year earlier, I saw some tears coming from the seniors as they boarded the train towards home. History repeated itself the following year. After all the ceremonial greetings and hugging with fellow friends that accompany us to the station, we boarded the train southbound to Kuala Lumpur. We all felt sad, quietly looking at the station slowly left behind under bright neon light as the train rolled on the track. Though we were tired, for a long time none was asleep. Everybody sat quietly, lost in thoughts. The train passed all the memorable stations. Who would forget Tapah Road with all the nasi lemak and other delicacies. “Tapah Road, Tapah Road, Nasi Lemak, Teh Tarik…”
Reunion Batch 1980
In February 2007, we gathered at Mancha’s. It was a nice gathering, albeit a short one. So much have changed. In fact, the last time I met some of these guys were 1980, 27 years prior. Many are now very successful in whatever they are doing. Congratulations to all. At 44, staying healthy and happy is on top of everything.
1st Row: Aan, Chot, Abu, Azad, Zahari, Mancha 2nd Row: Zaini, Hareef, Amir, Azhar Boss, Suhaimi, Mazru, Salihin 3rd Row: “missing”, Ah Chai, Chad, Ghazat 4th Row: Maniam, Zubir, Megat,Lennon, Razak Ishak, Saad, Azhar Ariff 5th Row: Zul Mohd, Gang, Sukiman, Din Kuda, Arif Salam, Henny