Another interesting episode in the life of my contemporaries was the school sports. This was perhaps the most exciting yearly event for most schools. We had quite a number of activities besides our class lessons organized by the school. During my primary school at the Sekolah Ismail School Two, I was active in these activities and I was one of the school runners. When I was in Standard Five, I participated in the 100 meters run and I came out fourth and when I was in Standard Six, I ran the 200 and the 400 meters and came out third in both games. I was one of the four in the 4 x 4 100 meters race and we managed to get a third place.
Running was the only games I participated in the school sports. I had my frequent training being chased by our neighbour’s dog almost every day. Thanks to that ugly looking bull dog who apparently was very fond of chasing me whenever I passed by the front road facing the house of our Chinese neighbour. Kak Fuzi and me were the most favourites of grandma whenever she need something to buy at the mamak sundry shop kedai kadir. Every time before we began our journey to the shop which was about a hundred meters away from home, we would make sure there wasn’t any sight of the dog. If we noticed the dog walking in front of the house, we would wait for the moment when the road was clear. Sometime grandma wondered why it took us quite sometime to buy the thing she needed not knowing that our only hindrance was that naughty dog. Thanks doggy, you made me a school runner.
I was in the Temenggong house. The names of other houses as I remember were Panglima, Mahkota, Laksamana and Petri. During the normal school days, we had a lesson called P.E ( physical education ) and it was held mostly during the last lesson of the class. We had to take off our shirts during the lesson and headed straight to the school field. All our shirts would be hung at the chairs. Our P.E teacher was a tall handsome Chinese I thought looked like Elvis Presley by the name of Charlie Chua. His hair style was really like Elvis, or maybe Elvis’ hair style looked like his. He was a jovial person, very kind to us students but on the field he was as fierce as that naughty dog that always chased me. In spite of being fierce on the field, he was very protective towards all of us. I remember one evening while we were having our P. E lesson, a student by the name of Harith kicked a ball and landed into another ‘territory’ taught by another P.E teacher. When Harith went to collect the ball, the teacher scolded Harith and at that very instance, Mister Charile ran towards Harith and confronted the teacher. When the last day of our Standard Six came, Harith looked for Mister Charlie and kissed his hand. Harith was seen crying and Mister Charlie consoled him. Relationship between teachers and students during my time was truly good.
I tried the high jumping too but was not too good that I eventually dropped the idea of trying to be like Spiderman.
Before the school sports began, we had our qualifying rounds and only those qualified could enter the official school sports. When the big day arrived, our school was like a mini carnival. Parents would come to watch their children participating. The antaupeng seller had to prepare more ice for the bid demand and so was the kacang putih seller with his extras. Some teachers from other schools were also invited and so on that day, the spirit of sportsmanship was at its height.
All of the participants lined up in groups according to the respective houses they belonged to. We had our own flag and when we marched on the field, we were very proud to show off the flag.
During the official sports, we had our singlet on and the name of our house. To get them printed, we used a transparent paper and had them written our house’ name by using a special paint. When the paint was dried, we had to iron the paper on the singlet and then peeled the paper slowly and the name of our house would appear on the singlet. Each house would have their own colour and if I am not mistaken, my Temenggong house was red in colour.
Mr. Gurnam Singh our headmaster was walking around the field smiling happily looking at the spirit of the participating students. Every time when he passed by us, we would clap and he would return our gesture with a wide grin. But when the beautiful lady teacher Miss Susan Chua passed by, we clapped even louder.
The games started with other activities and I would just watch waiting for the moment for my turn to participate. Some school girls too from other schools were on the field watching the sporting events and because we hardly saw girls in our school compound, many boys would intentionally passed by them grinning unnecessarily.
When my turn for the 200 meters was up, I was ready for the show. My eyes were focused on the crowd and then I saw grandpa was among them. This gave me the encouragement to run even faster. I had my rubber shoes on complete with my white socks. My most serious competitor was my classmate who was in a different house named Jalil. He could run faster than me, maybe he was chased everyday by a bigger dog. However, Jalil said that he could run faster without his rubber shoes on and so the teacher allowed him to run bare footed.
“On your mark, get set, go!” As I sprang from the starting point, I heard the whistle and so we all stopped running. Jalil was caught springing first before the word ‘go’. We had to go back to the starting point. When I saw him, I said to him, “Pengelat punya budak” (You are a cheater). He was not too happy with my remarks and challenge me for a fight after the sports. I answered back, “Bila bila aje, tak kesah” (Any time, no problem). The second round began and my intention was only to beat Jalil from the race. He was indeed a fast runner and the way he ran was like being chased by a big Alsatian. He was leading and I trailed closely behind him. Then I saw someone overtook me and I tried to run faster but the boy ran even faster. I followed closely behind the two of them and when we reached the curve towards the 100 meter lane, the boy overtook Jalil and he ran so fast until the finishing line. Jalil was second and I was third. Immediately after the run, I could not even talk and was panting heavily. Well at least I brought home three cups to show to grandma.
After the sports, I went looking for Jalil. I noticed he was among his friends who were also my classmates. When I approached him for the fight he asked for, he said there wasn’t any need because I’ve lost the 200 meters against him. I told him that was because he cheated in the race. That made him more angry but somehow he refused to fight me. Jalil did not excel well in his education and he stopped schooling after the Standard Six. When I was in Form Five, I saw him at one coffee shop and greeted him. He was a trishaw man and was drinking among his fellow trishaw men. But we bore no grudges against each other because we knew we were kids then. I sat next to him and told his friends that Jalil was once a school runner and he was smiling happily at my comment.
During my secondary school I was less involved in the sporting activities because my time was spent cycling around Muar town and I was already engrossed with my music passion. But every sports that was held by various schools, I would surely be around especially sports held by the girls’ school. We hardly saw girls with their shorts on and so watching them running with their shorts was obviously very exciting. You could see so many girls with shorts and the boys wouldn’t mind spending the whole day in the field.
The most thrilling sporting event was among the schools in Muar town. This sport would normally be held at a bigger field near Tanjung. The boys made sure that they would not get sick during this day. So many girls with their shorts and from all the schools in Muar town would be around to show off their talent.
This was one moment no boys of my time would wish to miss.