It’s raining cats and dogs in Bukit Setiawangsa tonight. KLCC looks gloomy from a distance adding to the somber mood of the night. I glance at my laptop which stains of Ribena left by Luqman a moment ago. Luqman is in deep slumber after a day of running and jumping without a care in the world. My mind drifts away to one rainy afternoon in Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) Kuala Terengganu. I was in a boarding school, about to sit for my SPM, and going through growing-up pains. Ah, you remember those days…
It was a Thursday; which is the end of the week in East Coast states. Back then, everybody loved Thursday because they look forward to the weekend (Friday & Saturday) – a much-needed break to enjoy themselves. It was raining heavily that day. As usual, the month of November is the beginning of monsoon season on this side of the peninsula. With nothing much to do, I lazed around my room – Cempaka 54 – staring at Ninja Turtle poster on the brown make-shift wall. Other “inmates” of Cempaka Hostel were loitering around the building to while away their time.
From a distance, I heard hurried footsteps pounding on the wooden floor from the common area heading towards my room. My comrade-in-arm, Ms. Harita, was shouting at me, “Hoi! Hujan! Jom main bola selipar!” Without further ado, I jumped at her irresistible offer. We quickly roped in few more people and in no time we were down at the small field between our hostel and the dining hall playing the game in the torrential rain.
Bola Selipar is a game played by two opposing teams; let’s name them Team A and Team B. Team A will build a triangle tower using three selipar jepun (flip-flops/thongs). A Team A’s member will then stand few metres from the tower while other members from both teams are scattered around the small field.
At the word “get-go”, the Team A’s member who is standing few metres away from the tower will utilise three attempts to bring down the tower by throwing a tennis ball at it. If she fails to bring down the tower after the third attempt, the turn now shifts to Team B. However, once the tower collapses, members from Team B must “kill” the opposing team members by throwing the tennis ball around until it hits their bodies.
Meanwhile, Team A’s members must make sure that they can rebuild the tower before the “demise” of all their team members. In the event Team A fails to rebuild the tower, the turn now shifts to Team B. If they manage to rebuild it in time, they keep their turn and gain one point simultaneously. Now, let the game begins!
Our drenched clothes and the flowing-water blocked our views and prevented us from hitting the opposing team members on target. Our loud voices could be heard as far as the Cenderawasih hostel, where the boys were boarding. I remember my teammate, Aya, (whom I haven’t met since we left MRSM) shouting, “Tuh! Tuh! Kat belakang mung!” Aya repeatedly pointed her index finger to the elusive Salmah (the opposing team member) for me to strike down.
I hurriedly spun my heels around and threw the ball with all my might only to hit my own teammate! “Adooohhhhh!” Saket lah bodo!” If my memory serves me well, I think, I hit Rozila with the ball. So sorry friend…
I still remember, Aya, in her desperation to avoid being hit by the ball, climbed the tree next to the clothes’ line. Oh! she can climb like a monkey that Terengganu girl. Our laughter punctured the incessant sound of the rain. It was…FUN! We were not bothered about the thunder and the lightening. We just wanted to have fun in the rain!
The game was on full swing when we heard our warden, Cikgu Zuriati, shouting at us to from the adjacent corridor to stop whatever nonsense we were doing. Busted! With the infamous thin rotan in her right hand, her face grimaced, lips pursed and eyes almost popping out, she came towards us, her undisciplined 16-year-olds, who now stood frozen in the rain, too terrified to move. Cikgu Zuriati – I must say – sent the fear of God inside me throughout my stay in the boarding school.
Our joy was short-lived. Cikgu Zuriati instructed us to stand in line along the corridors which connect the five hostels – Mawar (where good girls reside), Kenanga, Cempaka (where the outlaws live), Melati and Anggerik. “Ah, there was no escaping this one,” I silently muttered to myself.
“Swosh! Swosh! Swosh!” The rotan hit our then-tender hands. I grimaced in pain but I wasn’t repentant. The coldness went two folds up now that we were no longer under the rain. The only coherent sound that could be heard was the chattering of our teeth. We were sent back to our hostel after the public canning, a punishment we faced bravely and which left us feeling like defeated warriors. Seriously, we were just having fun and what’s wrong with that?
Here I am – 16 years down the road – reminiscing about my blissfully ignorant youth. Of all the things I remember most from this episode is that, I laughed so loudly without a single care in the world, just like Luqman did today. Apart from passing my SPM I didn’t have any real concern back then. Ah, the folly of youth…
Good night Sleepless in Setiawangsa.