I know sometimes I make myself sound like a real timer with the kinds of things I can say (like my Ingey paaru boyyyyyy and all that). But this time, I’m starting to feel old. Okay, not exactly old since I know I am just stepping into my prime. But is it just me or does time start flying way faster as you grow up? I remember being so excited when I was 16 about turning 21 and it seemed like it was eons away. Now when I did turn 21, it just flew and I can’t seem to even remember so much about the year. Putting aside my timer tendencies, I also realised that in August, the batch of boys that enter NUS are going to be younger than me. It’s weird because even when I was in my 2nd and 3rd year of study, I was used to the boys being older (they do 2.5 years of NS). And now, they will be thambis (little brothers). How weird is that?
Of course, when I compare myself to my 60 year old mates like Mesh and the old folks like Ruben (who deserves a long service award 😉 ), I still feel chirpy. Nevertheless, this was not supposed to turn into a complain post about me hitting my peak. Instead, I have been surfing through Facebook and I have come across many of these notes things – the ones where you write 25 random things about yourself or stuff that starts with the same alphabet as your name. There was one in particular that grabbed my attention and that was the one about memories. It asks the readers who have been tagged to share a memory of the post-er. Thereafter I also saw millions of pictures of some of my juniors taken during their days in St Margarets’ Secondary as well as some from Nanyang Junior College. Boy did nostalgia strike.
Being a Cancerian, I’ve always felt pretty sentimental and I think I can be a total karanguni (waste collector) when it comes to keeping objects of sentimental value. I still have my PSLE confirmation letter for my choice of schools, my Kindergarten progress reports, ticket stubs from my first movie with my first love, birthday cards, letters, posters and loads of autograph books (it was a very girls’ school thing to do). I think its amazing the kinds of things that can remain etched in our memories sometimes and I truly relish whenever one of those memories at the back of my mind strikes me. They make you laugh, they make you cry and sometimes remind you of a certain part of yourself you may have forgotten. These memories have made us who we are today and although we might feel urged to forget them to spare ourselves the embarassment, I think they are our essence and our spirits.
I figured I’d share a few of my sweetest memories, some funny, some painful some simply golden. I haven’t thought of a structure for this blogpost and I hope to post it onto Facebook later for more people to share these memories. Pardon me if this entry seems disorganised because its a true expression of my mind and I’m typing just as it flows. Do feel free to leave a memory of your own, it doesn’t have to include me, just something you remember with great fondness and I hope it makes you smile for the rest of the day.
The Polka Dotted Days
I remember my Secondary School days the most vividly of my entire education experience. As much as I grew up a lot during my JC days (which I’d save for a later part), it was in being in SMSS that I truly learnt about myself, learnt to love myself, gained confidence and understood my strengths and weaknesses.
I remember the temporary building at Commonwealth, with the creaky swing and how we girls used to run for it. I remember Mabel’s major accident with the scissors. We had just spoken about attempting suicide and stuff like that and my friend and I had gone to submit some DnT homework. We come back to seeing our friend Mabel being rushed to the sickbay with blood all over the place. She had accidentally cut herself while doing some work with a huge scissors. I swear for a moment we were certain she was trying to attempt suicide.
I remember Miss Usha from the computer lab and how we girls used to traumatise her. There was once a case of a pornographic picture found in one of the computers and everyone was banned from surfing and downloading for awhile. I remember IRC-ing after school and all those crazy things we used to do. We had a #smss channel. I remember taking trains from Commonwealth to Bishan but I always took the line that went way past Jurong, Woodlands then to Bishan just so that I could hang out with the girls longer. I remember being punished for wearing ankle socks or in my case my SMSS socks were so loose they’d fall right into my shoes by being told to remove my shoes and walk the day shoeless by Mrs Lee (God bless her soul). I remember that little atap hut that was our Tamil classroom and how we could never gauge accurately when Mrs Subra would appear. (when she did, the class would be in chaos, all of us would get punished but I often got only half the punishment).
I remember the move back to the original school after renovation and how we had a walk-a-thon. Mrs Lee rode on a Harley Davidson and there was even a scale down one of the school buildings. I recall how I was late pretty much every other day ( I just bumped into one of the junior prefects who used to book me all the time and she’s now a tutorial mate). I remember that every single day, all I ate was 1 prata, 2 hashbrowns (soaked in curry, it was crazy fantastic). I also remember how we girls used to do crazy things around that school. SYF practices where I got to bully the juniors to a large extent till preparing for the O levels with classes through the holidays. I miss every little moment.
I remember exploring my love for Literature and the languages, spending hours in the beautiful library we had going through pages of history books that were so colourful. I remember awaiting my Literature results the most and loving English compositions that allowed me to write for one-word titles or were open ended. My proudest moments were often topping Mrs Seet and Mrs Raj’s Literature lessons. I remember Mr Hoo telling my mother that perhaps I had a different route and was not cut out for the academics. Wherever he is now, I hope he sees what I’ve chosen to do. I recall topping my class for the mid-years in Sec 4 and that was when I felt that push I needed to excel.
The teachers told us time and time again to cherish our days in Secondary school where we were still spoonfed knowledge and where we were young and could get away with our mistakes. But just like every other girl my age, it was one ear in the other ear out. I miss being able to be a girl and be free, to sit any way I like, to walk any way I like and to look silly anytime of the day. I miss the itty heartbreaks, the itty joys and all the other crazy things.
The First Love
My first love was not my first boyfriend, but I would go so far as to say he was my first REAL boyfriend; this meant a relationship that lasted more than just a few months and where we went out and did things together instead of just chat online. His name was Alvin Thomas and he was and in some ways still causes the tingling of many pubescent hearts. I remember meeting him at a debate through a friend whom I cherish till today. I remember how he made my heart do a little flip while I was in the midst of my debate speech. I won best speaker that round and I won his email address through my friend. We dated for a fairly long time and we’ve had many makeups and breakups over the years. But I gained this sense of self confidence being around him, knowing a guy as goodlooking could like a ugly duckling like me (bad hair,braces, pimply me). We had the craziest, kiddish moments, saving up money to eat at Macs or just taking the train randomly. I remember our first movie together, our first kiss and a lot of other little itty bitty details that taught me so much more about myself. I loved meeting him after SYF dance practice just so that all the girls could see my famous and handsome boyfriend. Although things never worked out between the two of us, we are still great friends and we’ve met up a couple of times since (not at MACs, we actually promoted ourselves till Jacks’ Place).
These are by far the most long lasting memories since I’ve been doing this since I was so young. I love dancing and I don’t think there’s anything in this world that can give me the joy and the outlet that dancing does. I remember watching my sisters dance at Cairnhill CC under Mohana Akka, preparing for birthdays and all those other little fun things about class. I was certain I must learn how to dance just like my sisters and that I did. I remember Kallang CC and Naga Akka and Vijaya Akka. We had by far the funnest class with Vish, Arya, Rekkha and the entire gang. I remember chicken rice after dance class and being made to run around the CC as punishment for coming late for class. I remember suffering with theory classes just before exams. (Dhyana Slokam would look like Diana Slokam). I remember Commonwealth games with Rekkha, Harsheeni, Padmini, Kogila and Priyadharshini. It was our first ever overseas dance experience and we were treated like movie stars wherever we went. I also remember how I was traumatised by those damn peacock feathers that I couldn’t remove from my waist in time for the next part of the performance and how I pretty much danced with them and got “featured” on the big screen as well.
Now I’m older and dance means so much more to me. At some point it was a bit of a love-hate relationship, dance often bringing out the most intense, painful memories, tapping on all the things I try to compress and avoid sharing. Now, I’ve learnt to use it as an outlet, a safe way of letting off steam and frustration. I fondly recall the crazy things we do after performances, our occasional escapes to having a drink, neo-Bharatham experiments, making fun of little things. Most of all, I know I treasure every single thing Maami, my guru has taught me over the years. I know I can never be as loving, as inspirational and as passionate as her, but I will strive to possess at least a little bit of each of that. Her greatest lessons aren’t in the adavus she teaches or the items I’ve learnt, but in the little bits between classes where we speak. With Maami, you know she’s always listening, she’s always proud of you and she’ll always love and understand where you’re coming from. I’m also lucky to have such fantastic girlfriends at my dance class. You hear of politics,rivalry and competition between likeminded girls in the performing arts sector but at my school, we are more of a sisterhood than anything. It helps that we are all incredibly girly, crazy and love the same things.
Those 2 years were probably my toughest and depressing years. Battling with heartbreak, isolation from a group of people who used to be my closest friends and then my Dad’s death all around the same time. It made it hard for me to cope but it also taught me so much more about my mettle. I was lucky to have some friends, Sadhana, Sonia, Sunil, Hari, Joshua, Jesreen, Jasmine and Durga in particular. After bumping into Durga yesterday I just remembered our kindred souls, our conversations about nothing that were so profound, so emotionally intense and so beautiful. She’s one of the most beautiful people I know. I remember the ICS chalet at Aloha Loyang and how we went crazy with all the hide and seek nonsense. My hiding place was ace thanks to the guys who carried me up into the top of a cupboard. No one found me, I suspect they weren’t intending to.
I remember Mr.Bong asking me to draw the demand curve (this was somewhere in Year 2) and I drew a supply curve. I don’t think there’s a greater sin when it comes to Econs. I remember Miss Victors’ literature class and how we used to fight for the sofa. I remember Mrs. Teo’s class and how we used to hide burgers under the table and munch on them during lesson time. I remember Sunil and myself running across the field being late for a lesson once having gone out of school to eat, and how Mr Bong asked us why we were late and our uniforms were all messy. I remember Puyal and all the fun that tagged along.
I remember my two pseudo-Dads, Mr Thiru and Mr. Teo, the two men I cannot thank enough for being there for me when I needed them the most. Mr. Teo couldn’t speak much English. I was lucky that I was fairly proficient in Mandarin (you have to be when you’re in a Chinese-y school), yet he always made the effort to care for me and the other minorities. We were never marginalised or made to feel like we didn’t belong. I remember going to eat Air Batu (that coloured ice) outside school and how we used to skip P.E.
I remember the care and love my friends provided me with in what was the most pressing and painful moment of my life. I recall with fondness those little moments we’ve shared and the ways in which they love and care for me in their special ways till today. I remember my first clubbing experience in Cheeky Monkeys and of course the many moments of drinking at coffeeshops with Sunil and Hari.
Early Uni Days
Of course I’m not able to speak of my University experience in totality since I have about a year and a quarter to go but I must say, it’s seeming like a fantastic journey. I still remember my first ever performance with NUS – it was at roadshow a gazillion years ago (okay not really gazillion). I barely knew anyone and now I feel like I’ve danced and performed so many times with these people. I’ve met some fantastic friends through and in NUS and I’m so lucky to be a part of this culture.
I’m also extremely lucky to be studying what I am studying and to have found my niche. I was just chatting with the teacher in charge at the school I teach dance a few days ago about Indians who seem to drop courses or lose their passion for whatever they initially want to study. I’m glad that my mother never forced me to do triple sciences or go into a specific faculty. I’m glad that she supported me in everything and anything I’ve wanted to do. Till today, there’s never been a time my family has not been behind me; from my decisions to Dhool, to wanting to take charge of ICS to even wanting to major in Sociology. I recall how they had an entire cheerleading squad, ready with banners and pompoms at Dhool and how till today my mother still supports every one of my events. I am truly lucky for that.
University days seem to fly by the fastest since there’s no real system or a proper compulsory curriculum. The semesters aren’t very long and most of it is up to the individual. But I seem to have thoroughly enjoyed and am enjoying this entire experience and I love what I am studying. Perhaps two years down the road, I’d reminisce further about my university days.
There’s so much more I have failed to write here, from memories of my family, to my memories of my childhood days, to my memories from failed relationships and heartbreaks, to even my experiences with this blog. But that’s the point of life right? I mean we’re never going to be able to cap the extent of our memories or be able to recall and document every single moment, but those moments would come just when we need a little reminder or a little smile or maybe even a little humbling.
So, if you have a memory, any memory at all, of your own, of us, of someone mutual, of anything and everything or even nothing, do leave it as a comment here. I bet it’ll be fun!