Thursday, March 24, 2011

But Some Men Are More Equal Than others

Writing the previous post has dredged up memories buried deep under years’ worth of mental clutter. I have almost forgotten some of them but somehow reading the comments posted by Gunaqz and the others have cracked a hair-fine opening in my subconscious mind and some memories fought their way to the surface like dying worms gasping for air.

I remember the stories my daughter brought home from school along with her artwork and yellow confetti to stick on mother’s day cards. What she and her schoolmates saw during those terrifying days were not fit for kids’ eyes. One such story was about a mother who went to take her kid home from the kindergarten across the girls’ school. (Or was it a teacher bringing a pupil home?) She had almost reached her car when one of the men-in-black-with-red-around-the-head dragged her roughly to the bushes. What did he do to the poor woman?

His atrocity made the teacher tell the little girls in my daughter’s class to “Don’t look! Don’t look! It’s a sin to look!”  To make sure they didn’t look, she made them put their heads on their desks… like playing a game and they’d become the ‘it’ counting to ten while their friends hid behind walls and cupboards. Except that day it wasn’t a game.

Mr. Hubby had to pass the road near the Telekom buildings (between Sacred Heart, the boys’ school, and Wisma Kewangan) and he was assaulted, as were the other vehicles, with a hail of fist-sized rocks raining down from the high ground skirting the road. One hit the roof of his car, narrowly missing the back screen, and left a deep dent. Some vehicles weren't so lucky.

My school, unfortunately, wasn’t spared from a bomb scare.

One day the principal ordered all the students and teachers to vacate the school buildings and line up at the padang before announcing that he had received a message:

A bomb placed in one of the 30-odd classrooms was about to explode.

After we—the class teachers had made sure that none of the students in our respective classes was missing—we were ordered to go to our own classrooms to hunt for the bomb! No bomb squad was called. The police didn’t even come. We were stupid enough to follow the order and risk our lives.

It was only later—after all the drama and hysterics— we were told the bomb-in-the-classroom message had been a hoax sent by a student who thought he had the perfect opportunity to get even with the school authorities for taking disciplinary actions against him.
Image from Asiaweek

In Tanjung Aru, where the demonstrators gathered after they had walked all the way from the Town Padang, bombs were planted in dusbins and staircases. One exploded on a five-foot way killing a Chinese gentleman. Poor fellow. He was just an innocent passer-by caught at the wrong place at the wrong time.

My friends and I learnt to stay away from garbage bins for fear of planted bombs. In fact, for a long time we didn’t go anywhere at all. I was either at home or at school. We ventured to town only when it was absolutely necessary.

Later, days later, after the damage had been done; after all the not-peaceful demonstrations, the bomb explosions, the arsons, the threats and more, the Federal government shuffled in (half-heartedly? unwillingly?) to help restore law and order.
Image from Asiaweek

KK turned into some alien place where FRU personnel mingled with the shoppers in the corridors and five-foot ways, their fingers on the trigger of their M16 machine guns. (We added new phrases to our vocabulary: federal reserve unit, M16.) It was the first time I saw a real machine gun but instead of making me feel safe, it made me nervous and jittery. What if the fellow pulled the trigger accidentally? What if an accident started a stampede?

A curfew was imposed. No one was allowed out from 6pm to dawn. My SIL was caught driving along the deserted Penampang road. She was stopped and questioned by the gun-toting police.

We, the ordinary, law-abiding people had been caught in the crossfire between the lawfully elected and those who’d sell their souls to the devil in exchange for the power to run the state. There has to be some incredible personal satisfaction or reward one could get just by holding a minister’s post or having a ministerial portfolio.

Some people serve their God and country by being the best stay-at-home moms; some by being farmers, shopkeepers, doctors, dustmen. Or, like me, teachers. Others must be ministers in the state cabinet or in parliament, or else… They cannot serve their God and country any other way. Go figure…

Pictures from Google Images


  1. Hi Mdm.. :)
    That was scary.. It is heartbreaking to see our once 'peaceful' place, home become more and more scary like an uncivilised place..

  2. scary...even the world nowadays doesn't make much difference any more... =(

  3. Hi Germaine! Hi Angel!
    Yes, it was very scary. Don't you think it's ironical that as people move 'forward' they become more uncivilised?

  4. Opps, did I arouse the unpleasant memories you tried not to remember? I'm sorry.

    Noo..don't tell me you really went and looked for the bomb! My god, that's crazy. Even though it was later proven a hoax but imagine if there was really a bomb planted somewhere in the school that day...

  5. No, Gunaqz. I thought I had forgotten about those events but they were just below the surface. I wasn't really suppressing them.

    Ya, crazy pengetua made us, class teachers, go hunt for the bomb. It was terrifying esp when we knew about the bomb that exploded in Tanjung Aru.