Morrison's Academy: after breakfast on Sunday, the Brits went to church and we continued playing cards
On the way to London from Scotland: one of the Easter breaks (looking at the weather ha2). Please don't mind Fadli, he had just discovered Churchill's V-sign
Favourite past time during breaks: congregating at Jita's place at Earl's Court and cook. Cook and eat and sleep (I think we were doing kuih ketayap this time, Chamat mengidam)
The disastrous picnic at Ulu Kenas a week before SPM. Disastrous because while other candidates in other schools were panicking for SPM, we went for a picnic oblivious of the gravity of it. Unsurprisingly, we crashed baik punya in SPM ha2!
This is a season for betik.
At any particular time of our life, there would have been some people whom we are very close to. In MCKK, you tend to be close to different people (or groups) as you grow up. For example, I was close to Radin when we were in Form 2 because we hardly missed going to town together. It took us more than a decade to be close again, though by any standard (current MCKK standard) I can declare Radin as my betik with head high (ha ha).
But there are also people who are a constant in our life. They were there from the very beginning and somehow our path keep crossing. As you are tested in life, they were there all the time, unwavering in support and sympathy.
I am lucky because I picked up many of these people in my life since the first month I was in MCKK. There are those who had been close to me ever since that first few months and we had known each other so much that it only requires a flicker of glance to guess what annoys us; or what pleases us. These people know they are and I don't have claim them betiks too (ha2, that's blasphemous to the very concept of betik).
Surprisingly, I was never close to Jita in my five years in MCKK. Yes, we were in the same class in our final year. Yes, we were in the same English set since we were in Form 2. But we were never close and the only part that distinctively stands out is his buying the whole 5 Sc 1 Big Mac meals closer to SPM (ha ha).
But we ended in the same school for A-Levels, in one of the remotest places in Scotland. There was no train or bus stations, only bus stops to take you to the nearest train/bus stations. It's the equivalent of Karai, a small clusters of housing for pensioners (and a boarding school in the middle of it ha ha).
Getting stuck there was an impetus to look for something else to occupy ourselves, otherwise we would be dead. Jita found it in a girl friend. I found it in writing, so we continued the publication of Mindweb, a bulletin for Malaysian pre-university students destined for UK universities. Mindweb was started by Azraai Bahari Nasruddin, Scholar of the Year 1992. It was a way for us to keep connected and we distributed the bulletin to Malaysian A-Level colleges as well.
I have the habit of saying yes first, then figuring out the how later. There was one great obstacle in managing a publication when you get stuck in a place like Crieff, because none of us has a PC/laptop or printer. The school facilities were outdated (this was before the internet/PC age). A cikai PC used to cost about GBP1,500 if I am not mistaken; that's about RM9,000 by conversion.
Luckily Jita came to the rescue because he just had a laptop, as a birthday gift from his dad. It was a very thick and heavy Olivetti laptop (ha ha who would have bought an Olivetti laptop nowadays), but it was a state-of-the-art those days. I was ever grateful that he allowed me to use his expensive laptop almost 24/7 to produce a bulletin which he initially didn't have any interest in (ye la, dia dok pakai laptop mahal main Sollitaire!). He was also kind enough to buy a printer, so that I could print ha ha (what's the point of finishing everything when you cannot print!). Many times he would help me dealt with the local photocopy shops to get things printed (that was among my first lessons in economics ha ha, using the service of a small business without an economies of scale was stupid, it was twice more expensive to produce Mindweb in a little Scottish town than what Azraai had done, closer to London).
That was the start of a very long and fruitful friendship, centred on trust and loyalty. He played along when I dragged him into UKEC, taking the most sensitive post of Finance (because he could always top up if anything happens, kah3). His family apartment in Earl's Court became our official bed and breakfast, there were times some of us would bunk there for weeks (Chamat that is, my stay was always shorter he he).
In my darkest hours in the UK, I would run to him for distraction. We do not like to speak too much of what was personal to us, being boys means you would just want the company (and the free bed and breakfast ha ha) and skirt the obvious issues altogether.
During our time in PETRONAS, somehow our paths kept crossing as I dragged him from his comfortable life in Kerteh to the corporate centre. As I left PETRONAS and had to clear all of my life savings to pay back, he came to the rescue while waiting for me to make a new financial arrangements.
It has come one full circle and we came to a junction when we have to pursue the next phase of our life. I chose the unpredictable, the road less traveled as it is a calling.
Jita is leaving for a posting in Australia today, he's bringing his whole young family with him. A PETRONAS posting is usually 3-4 years long, but I do not discount that hearts may change and new doors may open, so it remains to be seen whether he will in fact come back after his posting.
I had wanted to organise a farewell dinner for him but had been busy, in the end due to miscommunication only Mattop who turned up for the cancelled dinner (ha2 reputasi yukengkaungongme aku lives on! Raja kincing). Well, Jita will be back soon, so will organise a proper one.
Over the last 5 years, all of my closest friends from the original UK clique had left the country. Fadli is never back in the country, the closest is Singapore. Chamat has been stationed in Beijing for quite a while. Fazurin had left for US since 2006 and is based there ever since. Madad never came back and I doubt that he will, now in Geneva.
And now Jita leaves the country too.
It's a sign of change. My heart feels heavy and I don't look forward to it, but we all have to move on in different directions in life.
May the bond that had held us all these last 2 decades will be there, so that when we meet next (or when we are in need of that honest companionship), it is not difficult to re-ignite.
Bon voyage Jita and good luck. You will make a great father and husband.
I guess I would have missed his flight. He sent a short SMS last night telling me that he banked in his zakat for me to pay in Terengganu. Also a zakat portion to go to MCKK. Very kind indeed.