On this 9th day of Syawal 1428H, my second stop was at the house of a very old friend, Rahim anak lebai Yunus, in Kg. Datuk Keramat. We were classmates from 1971 until 1975 at Sekolah Kebangsaan Polis Depot (SKPD), Jalan Gurney (now Jalan Semarak), Kuala Lumpur.
I managed to keep in touch with only two people from those days; the other being ’Adzimah, currently the Manager of MATRADE’s Malaysia Export Exhibition Centre (MEEC) at MATRADE Tower Jalan Duta, KL.
In Rahim’s possession were some photographs of the old days. I’m publishing a few here hoping anyone of the old classmates or any relevant party may find their way to this page, and contact me, just for old time sake. All of my old photo albums had been destroyed by KL’s famous flash floods years ago.
This is my Class Photo of Standard Two, back in 1971. The Class Teacher was Cikgu Shukor. I couldn’t remember his full name, but he was probably the most colorful teacher of the school back then. I remember he was pretty good at soccer.
One day he wanted to test us on our “congak” (mental arithmetic) skill. He asked all of us to stand up. He walked by each of us while holding a wooden slide rule. As he passed by each student, he would pop a lightning quick question such as, “Tiga kali empat! (three multipled by four!)” That student was supposed to quickly answer, “Dua belas! (twelve!)” Anyone who gave the wrong answer, slow to answer, or no answer at all would be given a light tap on the head with the ruler.
Everything seemed fine and dandy until ’Adzimah, one of the best students, started crying. She took exception to the method. “Saya PANTANG orang pukul kepala, Cikgu! Emak Ayah saya, keluarga saya semua pantang pukul kepala. (I take critical offense to be hit on the head! My Mom, Dad, and my whole family take offense if hit on the head.)” But Cikgu Shukor couldn’t care less.
This photo of Rahim (probably in 1975) was quite special because it was taken by a teacher whom we only referred to as Cikgu Dennis. I never knew his full name. Back then we didn’t even know the concept of surname.
Cikgu Dennis was teaching at our school for only a brief period, presumably on a special international assignment. He spoke Malay quite well. I didn’t even know where he was from. I could only now guess that he was from England. I remember that he would take a lot of photos of us (including of Rahim, above) just before he left the school for his home. He was a wonderful teacher. Obviously he loved children. And all of us were very fond of him.
I wonder if he was still alive. Wherever he was now.
One of the extra-curricular activities SKPD was known for back then was its two traditional dance groups. One was for Tarian Inang, the other was Tarian Joget. The teacher responsible for the dancing fame was Cikgu Fatimah. Rahim was one of those exemplary and beloved students at the school who got to be part of both dance groups.
The photo above was taken by a professional photographer during one of the Inang group’s performances outside the school, somewhere in KL. Rahim is the guy second from left, and his partner is A’dzimah, another one of those exemplary and beloved ones.
The Inang group won several dance competitions, and the photo above appeared on a magazine cover, acknowledging the success.
Even then and now, everybody agreed that it was mostly the work of Cikgu Fatimah alone. We never had a dance group before. She started the whole thing. From scratch. From the idea, the initial recruitment of potential dancers, the training, the choreography, the costume design, to the competitions, the logistics, the itinerary, the liaisons, you name it, she did it. She would devote all of her free time to the dance activity. After school, at night during performances, and even on weekends.
Until this day, I found it hard to find another teacher as devoted, dedicated, hard working, and talented as Cikgu Fatimah. She didn’t do it for the money. There was no money in those days. In fact we knew that she even had to use her own money in order for the program to succeed.
Some teachers today would be more concerned on earning extra income while teaching in class by selling stuffs like colostrum, cookies, and batik sarong. Outside of class tuition was the norm nowadays. Some would even take leave without pay for the whole Ramadhan just to make extra money.
But not for Cikgu Fatimah. I don’t think she ever received the recognition that she really deserved.
So much for nostalgia and my tribute to the good old SKPD.