When I forced myself out of bed on a wet morning in March to go to school, I had no inkling of the events that would befall me that day and what a day it turned out to be.
After a simple breakfast, I waited for the rain to stop before I could ride my bicycle to school. My younger brothers and sisters had already left for school in my father’s car.
The rain did not stop completely. So when it slowed down to a manageable drizzle, I hopped on my bicycle and pedaled off. I was late for school, but to my surprise, no prefects were waiting for me at the school gate. How lovely, to be late to school and not get booked was the most unexpected thing. I parked my bicycle and headed for my classroom. My uniform was a bit wet but it did not bother me very much.
When I reached my classroom, surprise again, there was no teacher in class. We were supposed to have a mathematics test then but I could see my classmates chatting away without a care in the world. Two boys were actually wrestling at the back of the class, encouraged by other boys. I entered the class and took my seat with hardly anybody noticing me, except Ah Tong who sat next to me. He made some inaudible comments about my wet clothes.
I was wondering why I could not hear Ah Tong, the loudest mouth in class. I must be going deaf. Then I realized that the whole class was so noisy that we would have put the market place to shame. In fact, the whole school was in an uproar. Wow, and no teachers seemed to be around to tell us to keep quiet.
I joined in the merry-making knowing that if we were to get caught all of us would get our due. It was a comforting thought, this “safety in number”.
By and by, a blue-shirted prefect entered our class. She was none other than the timid little girl who normally sat right at the front of our class, sweet little Judy, excellent in mathematics but rotten in bossing people around.
Judy stood in front of the class and made vain attempts to get the attention of the class. The chaos did not abate. Finally, Ah Tong had to step up and let out his famous attention-getting roar. He was not the school’s cadet sergeant for nothing.
“SHUT UP, YOU IDIOTS!” shouted Ah Tong.
The effect was immediate. All heads turned to Ah Tong. Even the wrestlers disentangled themselves.
May I present MISS JUDY?” Ah, Tong jibed playfully.
Judy braced herself and said in a small voice, “Mr. Lee says that all of you is to sit down quietly and do your own work. He is not free but he will come as soon as possible.”
Everybody clapped and the roar started again I could see Judy’s face flushed with anger but I could not hear what she said even though her lips were moving. Enraged, she stormed out of the classroom. That’s it, I thought; now we are going to get it.
Ah, Tong and I quickly sat down and pretended to do some work. We knew that Judy will be back with a bigger fellow. We would not want to reap his wrath.
Sure enough, a few minutes later I could see the hulking figure of Mr. Lee, our mathematics teacher, striding toward the class. Judy was beside him. A whispered warning swept through the class and like a flash the class became dead quiet. Everybody was working very hard on his or her own work.
Mr. Lee stepped into the class. Nobody uttered a sound. We looked at him. I must admit that Mr. Lee was actually smiling, something that he seldom did. When he smiled; could safely bet that something good had happened; another surprise!
“Well,” he started, beaming from ear to ear. Our school has just received the SPM results and we top the whole state!”
Roars of approval followed.
“In fact, we have a 100% pass in mathematics!” he continued. More roars followed. “So the H.M. has decided to declare a holiday today. You all can go home.”
“Now, sir?” asked a voice.
The sounds of laughter and joy were overwhelming. Everybody surged forward to congratulate Mr. Lee and I could hear him promising to give treats to everybody. Even Judy was smiling.
Happily, we collected our books and headed out of school. The atmosphere of happiness was intoxicating. I never expected that a drab wet day like this one would turn out to.be one of the most wonderful days of my entire school life. Even the rain did not deter my friends and me from cycling straight home to collect our fishing gear. Soon we were at our favorite fishing spot. Even the fish seemed to be biting extra hard. What a great albeit unexpected day it turned out to be!
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