I enrolled at Sekolah Menengah Sains Kelantan in 1983. Most of my batch is Kelantanese except for few from Sabah, Sarawak and Kuala Lumpur.

During the first week in school, my senior named me “Paolo Rossi” because I scored a hatrick in the semi final and add a double to the tally in the final of orientation week inter class football competition.

I became very popular among my senior for some other reason too. Most of the form five girls wanted me to be their adik angkat, and for that reason, the entire male population too wanted to be closed to me. As the result, I got all sorts of special treatment and protection in hostel.

Nevertheless, I only am much attached to one, his name is Mahfuz. Mahfuz was about to do his A Level in the UK. He was the former student leader and a very religious person. Mahfuz thought me a lot about religion. During school holidays, we would travel from one mosque to the other and I would sleep at one of his father’s houses in Kampong Kutan. I attended numbers of usrah sessions and even became a speaker at certain sessions.

After building such a trusted relationship, Mahfuz left for UK. I became lost. It seems that every man that I am fond of, were destined to leave me.

Then came Dato’ Shake. Yes, sometime if I really concentrate I can still hear Pulanglah and Kau Bungaku clearly. I can still visualized sipping Maggie Mee from the baldi by the third floor corridor around two in the morning with Dato’ Shake’s songs echoed in the distance blending well with the wind from Pantai Sabak.

When Saturday comes, we all will be rushing to the second-hand-shop that sell bundled shirt in search of baju kot. I cannot imagined how we survived wearing those jacket at noon in the classroom which obviously not air-conditioned, just because we are Dato’ Shake wannabe.

I left Sekolah Menengah Sains Kelantan a year later. Never asked me why. I did not have a concrete reason for it. I just followed my heart. Perhaps I just missed my kampong friends and playing football on the batas.

After one year in UK, Mahfuz arrived back for a holiday. He was surprised with my action. Mahfuz tried so hard to build back our relationship, however, he found me totally changed.

When you join a normal school from a boarding school after more than a year at the latter, it will only be for one reason and the reason is you were forced to leave. That is the perception of all my teachers at Sekolah Menengah Sultan Ismail and for the next two years I had to face it.

But who cares, it was there that I learned to moon-walking with Michael Jackson and to whisper carelessly with George Michael. I love every moment of it. I have so many good friends that even today; I still want to be their friend. Those were the years.

One of them was Kimi. The tallest boy in our class and his physic is just what you call macam bapak. A lot of thing that I did for the first time was with him. It was he who introduced me to crossing Sungai Golok and venturing into the cowboy town.We were The WHAM. He was George Michael and I was Andrew Ridgeley. No, not for sexual reason but only for the glamour part of it. Even after I left Kelantan two years later, we still in constant contact. Every time I am back in Kelantan, he can just sense it.

The last time I met him was in 1994. I was recce-ing for location and visited his mother’s shop in Tumpat. She gave me Kimi’s new address. We met and I discovered Kimi already married with two kids. I even knew the wife very well. Yes, I knew her from Sultan Ismail College. We sat for STPM together. I was shocked but remain calm. Kimi and me, we planned to cross to Sungai Golok the next day and to spend a night there to do the catching up.

As promised, the next day I went to his office just to discover that Kimi was busy with another girl. Kimi planned to take a second wife. That was the last time we met.

Time and again, the memory of Mahfuz and Kimi haunted me. Two person that really means a lot to me during my school days.

I left Mahfuz in pursuit of my live; Kimi left me in pursuit of his. Those were the days.

Aku terjaga dari tidur
Bagai ada satu suara
Yang lembut membisik padaku…

Termenung dipagi yang dingin
Terkenangkan kampung halaman
Terbatang wajah wajah sayu…

Kenangan mengusik jiwaku
Berlari dipinggiran desa
Damainya dipangkuan bumi…

Meskipun kini ku bahgia
Namun jiwaku keresahan
Padamu kasihku tercurah…

Tiba-tiba aku tersedar
Langkah kakiku terhenti
Ku aturkan jejak kembali…

Bersama pengalaman ini
Dewasa bersama cabaran
Akan ku curahkan padamu…
oh ibu

Perjuanganmu yang abadi
Akan ku teruskan semula
Membangunkan tanah pusaka…
yang indah

Bertapa kesedaran kini
Bumiku dahagakan baktinya
Terimalah pulangku ini…
oh ibu…

– Pulanglah, Dato’ Shake