Today I was the youngest senior citizen in the Tarsian ‘74 reunion.
There’s one thing I enjoy accompanying my mom to her high school reunion is to see these amazing people who still love and respect one another as Malaysians. They always have their teachers joining them, their camaderie and friendship astounds me. I would sit and listen to their stories, back in their school days of Tunku Abdul Rahman Secondary School in Gemas, Negeri Sembilan. My tok ayah (grandfather) was a policeman and he would stay with his family at the train station quarters and my mom grew up with children of the train station workers and sawmill workers nearby. This was their Malaysia. The teachers and the students have sense of belonging with each other, they grew up and stay connected to one another. I even end up making friends with Elisa, Uncle Baba Teh’s daughter who lives in Switzerland in the reunions before. Uncle Baba Teh who has been the constant organiser was also a teacher, who have been one of the most Malaysian person I know, sharing me stories how he used to be the Cina Baba man who organises kenduri doa selamat for the Muslims in his school.
I don’t have the close mother-daughter relationship with my mom. I was the only child among my 5 siblings who grew up entirely in boarding school so my parents never seen me grew up as a teenager. But as I grow older, I make sure I participate enough to understand how my mother grew up, her friends, her environment.
I grew up in a very Malay Musim privileged boarding school under the MRSM branch. I went to UiTM which is another Malay Muslim university. I never had the chance to have a friend from another race growing up. So when I entered the working force, I vowed to not be in the Malay Muslim environment anymore. I want to be the Malaysian that I am supposed to be. And being around these senior citizens inspire me to create the environment that I wish all Malaysians should have – diversity, understanding, respect, and most importantly love.
Being her chaperon to her reunions is truly a privilege, never a burden. Thank you, Mama. And Thank You Tarsians!!!