My first cigarette was on the night of sports day’s eve 1983. I helped my seniors to build the pintu gerbang for our sports house and in return I got my license to share their Gold Flakes and Rough Rider. Two brands of cigarette that is very popular towards the end of the month. Early in the month, Benson & Hedges will be the first choice.


After that, I was accepted as the honorary resident of the first floor, where the senior’s dorm situated. However, thanks to one form four fella named Azahari who threatened to report me to a brutal Prefect named Zambri, I volunteered to return to the third floor. Those days, the Prefect can be real gedebe. Zambri was known for all sorts of sadistic methods in torturing the juniors. Upon hearing that my named was already in Zambri’s black book, I quit smoking immediately.


Our Headmaster or those day was known as Che Po, short form for Principal was Cikgu Zakaria. He was also known as Pak Ya Che Bunga because he loved gardening. He was mere shadow compared to his walking tall deputy named Tengku Hamzah. The chief warden or the sheriff was Mr. Burn who must thought that he was running the Royal Military College. I used to believe that they were very sadist bunch of teachers until I join Sekolah Menengah Teknik Kuala Lumpur in 1986.

My dorm’s name was Serindit. One day after the routine roll call, Mr. Burn asked all inhabitants of Serindit to stay behind. We were told that one of us has not made up the bed and as punishment we were instructed to jalan itik all the way back to our dorm. The distance was almost 400 meters. We have to jalan itik even on the stairs. After that, none of us managed to walk properly for the next one week.

On another occasion, someone must have an unscheduled called of the big one because he managed to spill his business all the way on the floor of the third floor corridor up to the toilet at the end of the building. We woke up only to know that day will be hell for all of us upon seeing such work of art. That was a Friday. Friday was not a school day in Kelantan. Friday means Mr. Burn will be doing his routine inspection. I clearly remembered Burn took the loudhailer and asked whomever the unfortunate person to come forward. He threatened to force all of us to wipe the watery feces with our bare hand until it is no more there unless, of cause, somebody is willing to claim the crime. All of us had resigned to the fact that we will be going to have to do just that.

Suddenly, my dorm mate put up his hand and walked towards Burn. The seniors were screaming and laughing like mad upon watching Richard (not his real name) face down, bravely took each step with honour, closing in towards Burn.

Richard caught Burn by surprise. Never that day had we ever anticipated that someone was going to make such claimed. But, Richard did. I swore I saw tears in Burn’s eyes. For once, Burn had nothing to say. Burn was left speechless.

On that particular day, nobody was punished. The cleaner was later called to sanitize the corridor.

I cannot remember, if any of us actually did asked Richard whether he actually was the culprit. Deep in my heart, I doubted Richard was the guilty person. One thing for sure, Richard saved the day for us all. I cannot imagine how to suap my next meal, if Richard did not make that humiliating steps that Friday.

Richard had given hero a new name.