Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pictures of the heart

My first week of August kicked off with a big birthday bash for a great teacher and friend Ms Moey, the biggest ever school reunion and my first workshop in palliative care. It felt like going back to school and going back to work again. Of course, the highlight of the week was the long awaited BACK2BBGS alumni.

When one leaves school, one would think a chapter of one's life has come to an end. So I thought.
The BBGS alumni took place on the 4th. of August at the Bintang Circle, Pavilion Concourse where my Alma Mater used to sit once upon a time. It all goes back to September 2001 when she was torn and demolished to make way for the current shopping mall called Pavilion. I remember how BBGSians lamented and made a big fuss over it because it isn't just about saying a simple goodbye. Question like, "with no more school, will the BBGS spirit become a thing of the past?". Well, when I witnessed the crowd from as old as 80 to as young as 20 that gathered at the alumni that day, I instantly know in my heart that the BBGS spirit lives on. In corridors of every heart that she has touched...
For years now, the hazards and the necessities of life have taken us all down to different paths, yet many had taken precious time off their work and household commitment and travelled from all corners of the globe just to be back to BBGS. The feeling of pride in each of us is totally evident and can never be wiped away...
BBGS, we pledge to thee! But then, it wasn't just a pledge. It was this unshakeable feeling of love and loyalty to her that brought us back together, as Miss Moey so aptly mentioned in her speech. It was this desire to still honour and pay tribute to this great school that had shaped our lives. And if there's one thing my parents did right was they sent us (I am so sure my sisters will agree with this too) to BBGS.
One day my husband asked me, "Why? What's so special about BBGS?" It was a place where every student was given a place, a sense of belonging regardless of rich or poor, black or white, race and religion. It was a place where teachers were taught to love, to teach and to touch lives. It was a place where flaunting one's wealth or rank was frowned upon and humility encouraged. It was a place where we learned about love, simplicity and human kindness apart from Mathematics, Science or History. And a million more...
It is the place that taught us 'to bear the yoke in youth with steadfastness and careful truth. To delight in simple things. To forgive freely and love all we take our place as loyal women with our race.'
Of course for me, it is also the place where I met Ms. Cooke and Ms. Moey, both women of substance who had played such an important role in my life till today.
The arrival of our beloved headmistress Miss Cooke. As I stood in front of her to have her picture taken, she waved weakly to me. When I moved over, she asked me, "where have you been?" I was so shocked! "Does Ms. Cooke actually remember me? Maybe especially having built a notoriously infamous reputation with her, I guess it's difficult to escape her memory." But I just didn't know what to say to her, it was as if I had this big lump inside my throat. Ms. Moey helped me and told her, "This is Wai Mun." Even with that, I still stood there, speechless. In the end, all I did was held her hands and gave her a little hug. I don't understand why, but I count myself EXTRMELY fortunate to be able to get this close, while there were hundreds struggling and waiting for an opportunity just to say hello to Ms. Cooke. And that scene have been stuck in my mind for the entire week...honestly, I was just so thrilled!Every BBGSian rose to their feet and stood at attention as we sang the school song with pride. As the anthem filled the entire mall and voices soared in unison, precious memories of the school came surging and I thought for a moment my heart would burst. It was as if we were schoolgirls not too long ago, we sang the school song at our assembly every Monday. Ms Cooke would pace the stage, looking out for anyone who didn't know the school song by heart. Not only that, we had to make sure we shaped our words properly with our mouths or we might end up singing the school song or the national anthem over and over again like twenty times or more!
Reviving the Choral speaking conducted by an old girl Cheong Wei Lin.
Choral Speaking was an old BBGS tradition and trust me, it could only be heard at the grounds of BBGS. I remembered so vividly when Annual Speech Day approaches every year, every class could be heard practising Choral Speaking with utmost religious fervour. We were made to memorize the poem and recite it every day and night until nothing but perfection came out of it. Every pronunciation must be so precise and if anyone burps or sneezes, the whole class had to recite the whole poem all over again. Oh my God, we had so much fun!
Look at these loving hands...How weak and wrinkled they have become! Yet these are the humble hands that taught me, brought me up and moulded me in my growing years. They will always remain precious and special because these are the loving hands that left an indelible mark in my heart and in my life, and they mean the world to me!
Indeed, BBGS had given to me a warehouse stored with rich and happy memories in this lifetime which I will never forget and I will cherish forever.

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