School Friends Forever

With careers established and children now grown, my schoolmates and I are ready to rekindle our long-standing friendships and get together to catch up on each others’ lives.  In 2004 schoolmates from the class of 1974 in Johor Baru Convent started to reconnect through cyberspace and more than 60 of us met for a reunion in Johor Baru.  Our second reunion in 2007 was so exciting that we fixed a date in December 2012 to mark another important milestone together in our Big Birthday Bash [BBB].

Although the number gathered was smaller this time around, our schoolmates had a memorable time in a Johor Baru resort in the first weekend of December.  An interesting itinerary of activities was planned for a meaningful and nostalgic experience together.  Besides the BBB, we also took a drive to Pontian to enjoy the sunset against the South China Sea and then to a sumptuous dinner there.   It was a new experience to many of us, to sit for an artist to sketch a portrait as a personalised souvenir from the BBB!

Ready for our trip to Pontian
Some things never change, including greeting each other with excited screams and one of the first questions I was asked with obvious concern was, “What’s happening to the JB Convent?”  

Our schoolmates who heard rumours of the recent attempt to shift out the Convent Primary School from our former school at Jalan Yahya Awal were rather distressed and ready to participate in a “Save JB Convent Movement.”  I quickly pacified their fears and clarified that our Johor Sultan had stepped in and settled the matter.

All set to dig into a sumptuous dinner in Pontian
Lina insisted that we should passionately preserve the JB Convent heritage and reminded us that we played an active part in contributing to the construction of the building by raising funds from our weekly food sales.  This triggered off a time of fond reminiscing on the various types of food each class was popular for and how we often sold raffle tickets to guess the weight of a beautifully baked cake.  Reminiscing was good but it was even better when Rose brought two snacks that she made from recipes we learnt in Home Science class, to share with us over chit-chat and hot coffee!

Geok [3rd from Right] sitting for portrait artist
Her kueh kosui coated in lightly salted grated young coconut was truly reminiscent of the type of local cakes we used to make and sell in our fund-raising food sales.  Filled with plump raisins, her classic rock buns were made in smaller bite sizes probably so that we could eat more and feel less guilty.  As I bit into the familiar taste, another discussion ensued about short-crust pastry and I had a major flashback to how we used the rubbing-in method for the half-fat-to-flour ratio in our pastry recipes!

I confess that I’m not a great fan of Home Science, a subject that included cookery and sewing classes.  We used to work in pairs for cookery – my partner was Linda – and I was happy to let her do all the cooking while I volunteered to do the washing up.  But I enjoyed the theory part and to this day, I remember the essentials in table and tray setting – very useful knowledge especially when I am food-tasting and reviewing restaurants.

A selection of freshly sketched portraits at the event
In lower secondary school our sewing class involved preparing samples of various stitches to be mounted in a hard-cover book for grading.  It was good to meet Liang Siew Fah again at the reunion and I will always be grateful to her because she patiently helped me with my sewing samples.  

One of the key projects was to sew our own apron for use in the cookery class but I was such a poor student with the needle and sewing machine that I convinced my mum to send my project out to our tailor – who sewed it for me!

Artist, Taib Aur, with me and my portrait
Meeting former schoolmates again was just fun and interesting.  While some have quit full-time jobs to enjoy their retirement, we discovered a Datuk among us and another who is Head of Medicine in a government hospital!  Besides being successful homemakers – some of whom are now glamorous grandmothers – we have professionals and career women who are so smart that they can juggle family life with their work! 

The topics of discussion at this reunion were not solely nostalgic recollections of our Convent days but we inevitably progressed to matters relating to health issues and traditional remedies.  While some were still talking about their children’s tertiary education, there were many whose children had graduated and already have careers. 

One for the album with Siok [Top row, 3rd from Right]

Since reconnecting again in 2004 and meeting for a second reunion in 2007, we made short trips together to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca and various districts in Johor that had strengthened our bond with each other in a very special way.  

As we are moving on in the cycle of life, we noted with wry amusement that we are now meeting more often at the weddings of our friends’ children and at the funerals of our friends’ parents!

We are getting more tech-savvy now and even more connected through mobile phone, email and Facebook exchanges to keep ourselves updated on the happenings in our lives.  

Happy faces at our BBB!
When our friends who live abroad return to their family homes in Johor Baru for annual festivals, we always make an effort to meet – like how we did with Siok and her family who were visiting from Sydney.  Now I’m so looking forward to the coming Lunar New Year when we will have another opportunity for the next series of mini reunions!


No comments:

Post a Comment