Happy Birthday, My Friend!

From Facebook, I found out that 4 of my acquaintances have their birthday today! Happy birthday to the following:

  1. Khim
  2. M Yusof D
  3. Zulina

And, last but definitely not least, my dear friend, Siti.

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(got this pic from her Facebook album)

Many know her as Associate Prof  Dr Siti Hamin, a lecturer in The School of Language Studies and Linguistics, UKM. To me she’s a very dear friend who deserves to be mentioned in my blog. I know that I should have written about her earlier, but well.. it’s better late than never.

I first came to know her in January 1970 (God! It’s 40 years ago!) when I first came back to Kelantan, and joined the class 2 Brown, in the only English school in Tanah Merah (now known as SRK Sri Suria I). Here’s a class pic of 2 Brown 1970 (thanks to Razmi) with me sitting 5th from right while Siti was seated 3rd from right.

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It didn’t take long for us to hit it right. By primary 4 we were cycling to school together! I remember we used to have rattan bags as our schoolbag. It was not because we could not afford the boxy schoolbag typical of those days, but we just thought it was cool 🙂 .

One of us (I think it was me) had the bag that looks like this:

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Ti, I tried to google for our rattan bags but couldn’t find any that is exactly like ours. I guess they don’t make those bags anymore?

Back to Siti, we even had out hats of the same design, to wear each time we cycle to school or to any extra curricular meet. We were both in the Brownies too.

I remember that both Siti and I liked to visit each other during school holidays and over the weekends. I especially loved going to her house because there were so many Malay novels, that belonged to her brother. I could say that my first exposure to Malay literature was from those books that I regularly borrowed.

When we were in Primary 5, some of our teachers (especially Mr David Foo and Cikgu Nik Mat Dek) gave some free tuitions at night, in school. I think it was about 2km cycle from my house, if not more. In those days, my house (which was on a small street parallel to the main road) didn’t have electricity. Siti’s house was on the other side of the main road (The Tanah Merah-Jeli road) and Siti’s brother would cycle with her to my house and then he would cycle back with us until we reached the main road. Only then he would let us cycle on our own to school. When we came home, Siti would cycle with me to my house, and we would wait for her brother to fetch her back.

In those days, Tanah Merah was still considered a “Black Area” . I think the black area was in reference to communist threat.

Siti was my confident when I was in Primary school. She was my first close friend. We were in the same class from Primary 2 all the way to Primary 6.  We had many great times together, though I can’t specifically remember them. I think we climbed my guava and rambutan trees together. We went visiting friends together too.

When I went to a boarding school, I seldom saw her anymore. We grew further and further apart after my mum passed away and I hardly went back to that house I used to stay. My brother took over the house while I spent most of my holidays in Johor, either with my late dad and step mum or with my late aunt.

Siti, my memory is failing on how we managed to trace each other again. But I know in early 1990s, I visited her in her home in Bandar Baru Bangi, and since then we’ve in an “on and off” communication status. Thanks to Facebook, we are now regularly in contact again.

So, in this blog entry, I would like to wish Siti a very Happy Birthday. Before it’s too late, I just want to remind her (I am sure she knows this) that she is a very special friend to me. Never mind that for the past 3 decades or so, we are not that close, and we have both found our different circles of friends. To me, Siti was my first close friend, and she was a great company for a great 5 (growing up) years. Thank you Siti for that!

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