Raja Chulan Raja Ahmad Tajuddin returns with more tales from his early years as a Kuala Kangsor boy. Today’s post is the second part describing his early days at the Clifford School Special Malay Class following his early education at the Sekolah Rendah Melayu Pusat. Here Engku Chulan reminisces the friends he made at school and the antics they were up to!
Among my Cliffordian friends who came from Kota Lama Kiri were the children of Allahyarham Mohd Nor Long, the famous football referee of Kuala Kangsar. Mohd Safaruddin, one of his sons, was a college mate at The College of Agriculture Serdang in 1969. Other Cliffordian friends included Krishnan, Bala and Muniandy, who stayed in Residence Hill; Kat Pin Hon who was a good hockey player and later became a businessman; Leong, whose father owned the Leong electrical shop opposite Yut Loy coffee shop; Ariff, the son of Pak Ngah Laksa; Zainal the son of Pak Desa, the mee seller at the old bus station in town; Majid who retired as a customs officer and Dato’ Ahmad Dhaman Huri who retired as the Ketua Setiausaha of JKR. And unforgettable too were the Scottish brothers Richard and Stuart Henning, whose father was the District Engineer. I cannot forget the day that I got into a fist fight with Richard when I thought he was flirting with one of the girls on our school bus. Despite that, we remained friends and I was even invited for Christmas at his house.
Our class master, or form teacher as it was known then, was a Eurasian named Mr Ball Hatchet (forgive me if memory fails me in correctly spelling his name), feared for his ‘crab pincers’ which essentially was a pinch to the stomach as he reprimanded naughty pupils in class. I was, of course, the most frequent recipient of the penalty.
Finishing the Special Malay Class, I moved school again to enter Standard Six at the Clifford Primary School which was located at Jalan Station near the Hospital Perempuan Kuala Kangsar. Since the school was rather far from Hill Road, I had to take the schoolbus driven by Pakcik Ghazali. The headmistress then was the late Mrs Yap. It was during my standard six here that we pupils were often taken to the Istana Iskandariah at the invitation of Almarhumah Raja Perempuan Taayah, my beloved grandaunt. Following my grandaunt’s demise, may Allah bless her kind soul, the school held its annual English essay writing contest and Mrs Yap asked me to write about Almarhumah. I won first prize because my essay was based on fond and loving memories whenever I visited her with my late father at Istana Iskandariah.
By this time, I became very close to YM Raja (Dr) Ahmad Tajuddin Shah Raja Bendahara Abdul Rashid* (also known as Ku Matta), who is a granduncle although we are only months apart age-wise. This close acquaintance proved useful in later part of my education when he and his MCKK colleagues gave prep tuition to this Cliffordian! And to this day, I am grateful to them for helping me to obtain my Higher School Certificate with flying colours. And unforgettable too were the nights when this Cliffordian was smuggled into the College to watch movies at the Hargreaves Hall. More often than not, after watching these movies, I would spend the night at Istana Gahara at the invitation of YM Ku Matta (or RATS* to his Serdang colleagues). Even as a kid, I could feel the familial bond that exuded from the warm and tender care of YAM Tuanku (Raja Puan Kechil Aishah Raja Saidin), bonda of Ku Matta. Soft spoken, always with a smile accopanying her charming personality, she treated me as a mother would. The ambience of Istana Gahara was one of royal splendour and serenity, with small vines that creeps the wall at both wings of the palace.
It was during these early Cliffordian days that my late father attended night classes at the insistence and recommendation of his superiors at the agriculture department in Kuala Kangsar. It was his diligence and dedication at work that eventually enabled him to obtain a Diploma of Agriculture at the Serdang Agriculture College. It was his sense of belonging as a son of Serdang that he sent me to attend the College of Agriculture Serdang in 1969, incidentally just after the tragic May 13 riots.