Raja Chulan Raja Ahmad Tajuddin returns with more tales from his early years as a Kuala Kangsor boy – this time revolving his involvement with sports at school. Engku Chulan reminisces the 200 meter race of his life when he equalled the school record which lasted only 5 minutes!
I was an all-round sportsman, I dare say. I played football, hockey, badminton and, in later years, rugby. I was quite good at field games and athletics too, although I cannot say I excel in any. As the saying goes, and as far as games go, I was jack of all and master of none!
In all the schools that I went to I was never one to shun from sports and field activities but it was in my early secondary years at Clifford that remained etched in my memory. It was during the school’s annual sporting event when the various Houses rose to the challenge to be the best in school. In all there were six houses, each with its own colour. I was in Head’s House, coloured brown. Purple was for Queen’s House, yellow for Iskandar House and red for Idris House. Hogan House took cream for its colour while Chulan House was in blue. Until now I wondered why I was never in Chulan House!
The first preparation for the sports was to get our singlet coloured. Common was the Pagoda sleeveless singlet which was the cheapest. We would share school pocket money to buy the dye. The large cooking pot needed to boil the water was from my mum’s kitchen and the firewood ‘borrowed’ (ahem! -Ed.) from the Chinese coffee shop on Hogan Road. The singlets must be evenly stirred in the boiling water mixed with the brown dye for the colour to be even. Otherwise, we would have light brown singlets with dark brown patches!
On the big day, we gathered at the school field to register for the events we would participate. Each member of the house would enter for as many events as possible except of course for the kaki bangku. We aimed to score points in every event we participated for our House to be declared champions. I chose the long jump, the shot put, the 100 yards as well as the 200 yards. Although not the eventual winner, I did score points in the long jump and shot put. I won my first heat in the 100 meters but never made the final heat. Still, I did secure a point.
I was determined to win the 200 yards being the last event I participated. The crowd was all for me as the announcement was made for the start of the race. I was in the fourth lane and as the countdown began I had my sight only on the finishing line. I was off the block even as the starting gun blew off and I realised I had a very good start. I was oblivious to everything as I took the first turn except for the loud clapping of the crowd at the finishing line. Down the final stretch, I realised that the others were far behind and I never looked back. I broke the finish tape with hands held high for it was the run of my life. The crowd was jumping and clapping as I rejoiced at the victory. I was especially excited because the win meant I had equalled the feat of a favourite cousin, YM Raja Balkish Raja Amir, who was GEGS’ best sprinter (she eventually became the Perak state sprinter).
I saw the headmaster came towards me, perhaps to congratulate me, I thought. Then there was a hush as the crowd turned silent. “You curi lane hah!” was all Mr Karam Singh said as I felt a biting pain from his crab-pincher on my stomach. Then I realised that in my excitement to win the race I had cut into the inner lane right from the first turn. But how could he have seen that. He was nowhere near the starting point!
Well, it was a lesson well learnt and I was lucky because despite not gaining any points in that race I was not penalised for the other points I earned. And it was the most short-lived record-equalling run in school. That was a personal record for this Hill Road brat.