This blog is long overdue.
Ameba’s wedding took place about 2 months ago in Kuala Lipis. Those who went to the wedding were Auzir, Gadap, Pica and myself in one car, then Allen, Pyan, Radin and Badut in another. Pejal and Hazerk went with their families.
There were quite a lot of plans initially – Auzir and Gadap were serious about having a durian feast by the roadside, but no one seemed to share their love of durian or tempoyak, so we passed on that plan. In the end, as much as I feel Siti Nurhaliza is so over-rated, everyone except Pejal and Aini went to pay homage to her home. I wasn’t at all surprised that there was a big signboard leading to the road to her house – I suppose that’s Lipis’ only claim of fame to date.
So Ameba did get married after all (and unexpectedly should I add).
Ameba and I went a long way back, although we drifted apart after SPM. He sent me 2 or 3 letters while I was still in Scotland, but after that communication stopped.
Ameba was in the same house and in the same dorm as I was in F1, so by design we shared what was considered the most brutal Prep School prefect of our time in Dorm E (Fadli can relate to this after the mighty slap on his face on one Saturday afternoon, or Syed Moto’s experience sleeping in the corridor ha ha). He was a class of monitor of SPU 1 and I was for another class – so it was not surprising that by the time the batch went through our first election, both of us were in the committee.
And so it began – for the next four years Ameba and I had always been together in one committee or another. Unlike some people whom I can categorically say my people from the first day till today, I never know how to “categorise” Ameba in my book.
For a start, he ranked higher than me in the first election. He was a second man after Toy, I was a step lower than him. But from the very first AJK Batch meetings, it was rather obvious that we had 2 distinct camps – one was what would have been a rather right wing camp, the other more to the left. Right wing in the sense that my camp was less tolerant to personal choices that incriminate the greater good of everyone in the batch, left wing for the other camp because they were more tolerant to signs of problems in the batch.
But I could never tell where Ameba’s thoughts, or allegiance were – in fact till this very day I am not sure. Post the 1998 events, again the political opinions in the batch were divided into two – I was rather vocal in my condemnation of what had happened, while there were others who bought everything Utusan, TV3 and The Star had to say. I couldn’t tell what he thought of the whole events, although my hunch is even if he thought that the powers-that-be went overboard, he doesn’t necessarily agree with the opposition either.
That categorizes Ameba in my book – I was never able to guess where his vote might be.
He was also one of the very few people in my batch who I treated as equals all along – had he interfered or raised objections to some scheming that I conjured (and I had a lot of those), I would have stopped.
By the time we were approaching our final year, the balance of power in koleq changed a lot, what with the Prefects Board stripped from what it was a year before, to the proposed change in dormitory system etc. It was at this crucial moment that the other two people who I had always considered as equals, acted magnanimously and with pragmatism to allow the kind of life we had in 1994 to take place.
I never paid them any tribute officially before.
Had Toy decided to go ahead and stand as President, it would have been a divisive contest – as I was in no mood to back down. I would have won with the majority support from the juniors, but the bad blood within the batch would have remained. There would always be people who hated my guts to the bone and took the opportunity to inflame the aftermath of such an election and life would have been horrible.
But Toy made way for a no-contest and it was the first time in our five years in koleq that a Form 5 was made a Deputy President (that position was exclusively reserved for a F4 before that), having served as a Deputy President in the previous term. Along the line, at moments when I was barely coping with the pressure, expectations and hopes of being a Form 5, Toy would step forward and took over to shoulder the burden – there was one night in May 1994, after lights off, that he came to my bed and asked me to take a rest and let him managed a function due about a week from that. I never had a buddy-like relationship with him, so that kindness I remembered for many years to come.
It was in this perspective that I owed a lot to Ameba. Prior to the election, had he decided to take part as well, it would have been complicated. If he decided to take side with Toy and pushed Toy to stand – it would have been a messy election. If he had decided to stand himself, it would have created more confusion.
But unlike many other figures I knew from the batches before or after us, Ameba did not entertain his ego (if he had any that is). It was enough for him for people to know quietly that he had a place in the batch, whether or not he held any position or consulted in any of the decisions made.
I couldn’t even remember whether I sat down with him before we submitted the final cabinet to the HM that had won unopposed – but later he took on the portfolio assigned to him to his heart and did a great job at it.
Looking back, as a modern day Duke of Warwick the king-maker, Ameba was one hell of a down-to-earth person, one who was not greedy and careful in wielding the influence he had in his hands. Nowadays we jeered at each other – I at his receding hair line ha ha, his at my extra 30 kg from school days – but I have always had respect for this guy. It is for that reason mostly that I made the journey to Kuala Lipis, as much as I know there’s nothing at all in Kuala Lipis that would excite us.
To a great friend, for all the scheming and plotting we had carried out – congratulations!
ps: We had lunch with Vincent @ Chot (his new nickname apparently) last Friday
pps: Auzir just called to sell the Commemorative Stamps – at 25% mark up, since it is sold out.