TV SMITH's Dua Sen: The School Of Hard Knocks
TV Smith's Dua Sen
TV Smith's Dua Sen. The politically incorrect irregular columnist combines his idiosyncratic observations and tangential commentary into a blog...


by TV Smith

Why are the roads in KL so congested during the evening rush hour? There are a few million chauffeurs or doting parents waiting in cars double-parked outside schools everywhere, that's why.

When I was in primary school, I used to take three buses, starting from 5:00 am, to get to my last stop, somewhere near Jalan Loke Yew. From there, I would take a three-kilometer shortcut in near darkness through KL's biggest burial grounds, to get to the Bellamy Road Primary School. It was to become an almost daily, solitary stroll through rolling hills of graves surrounded by eerie mist and sounds of waking birds. The few neat rows of Christian graves looked serene in comparison to the haphazardly arranged Chinese cemetery. Initially, I tried to avoid looking at the mug shots affixed to almost every one of those giant and fancy tombstones. Yet, somehow I was drawn to the black & white photos of the tenants underneath. Eventually, I ended up greeting the familiar faces every time I walked by. They became my silent friends and guardian angels. The graveyard routine was, perhaps, my parents' unique way of preparing a nine-year-old to be street-smart. Or maybe they were preparing me for the horrors of secondary education.

With a population exceeding some three thousand students, Setapak High School was one of the biggest secondary school in its time. It was so overcrowded, three students shared one toilet stall, at any one time. At first, I was especially impressed by the fact that our headmaster was the famous author of a series of history books used throughout the country. Little did I know then, that I had enrolled myself at the nation's leading showcase school for lunatic teachers and homicidal students.

The real standout was the discipline master, the goateed Mr TD. His daily dose of racial slurs was so vulgar and extreme even Eddie Murphy would have blushed. He would pick on some poor Punjabi student and twist his (mini) turban bun like a gear stick. If you answered one of his questions incorrectly, his favourite reply was "I'll stick a cockroach up your rectum!" With so much hatred and bad karma heaped upon him, it was not surprising he collapsed and died of a heart attack on the tennis court. That was the night you saw fireworks lighting up the KL sky, thinking it was a Tourism Malaysia event.

There was this goofy and schizophrenic guy who taught us PE (Physical Exercise), a Mr ST. When he was in his elements, he made everyone hopped with one leg, round and round the school field. We had a nice big indoor gym, I remember. The three-storey high building was equipped with everything except padding on the parquet floor. During rainy days, Mr ST would make everybody climb up the ropes so as to check whether the ceiling was leaking. Not surprisingly, some slipped and fell like durians, resulting in broken limbs, ribs and necks. Fortunately, someone landed on him one day, knocking him out of action for a long, long while. What a relief.

Next to the gym, was the assembly area. Every Friday, dozens of misbehaving students were subjected to routine public caning. It hurt, but there was certainly no feeling of embarrassment or remorse among the recipients. Getting one's ass whipped in front of a few thousand people was considered an act of honour. If one could not wait till Fridays, there was the possibility of getting one of those thunderous slaps from the football coach. The slap was so hard that it left a palm print on the cheek for weeks. We took it like a boy. No parents, doctors, lawyers or reporters were ever involved. We just waited for the right moment and hurled a brick onto his car's windscreen.

There were more pleasurable moments, of course. The micro-mini skirted Ms CK provided hope and inspiration for first-formers experiencing their first hard-ons. Thanks to her, it became fashionable wearing a little round pencil sharpener cum mirror on our Bata Badminton Masters. That woman was as wicked as she was witchy. She would gently stroke the face of some poor kid mesmerised by her cleavage and then, suddenly, with no warning, a slap comes flying from her other hand. But no one could challenge another teacher, Ms MC, when it comes to perversion. That old spinster would punish students by making them sit under her table with their heads between her legs, facing inwards, naturally.

There were other cheap thrills, luckily. We occasionally stayed back after school to join the school security guard, so as to peep at those coed sixth formers. They used to have those wild orgies in the science labs under the guise of Interact Club meetings. I know what you armchair psychoanalysts are thinking and you're right. Some of the students went on to acquire a taste for bondage, S&M, voyeurism and other kinky stuff in their adult lives. A few became cross-dressers, if you must know.

To suppress everyone's libido, there was this annual murderous half-run-half-walk marathon called Cross Country. The fifteen-kilometer route snaked through squatter areas, rubber plantations, tin mines and orchards. Imagine a few thousand students fanning out into the countryside like a swarm of locusts. All edible and non-edible fruit trees were stripped bare within minutes.

There were no Indian, Chinese or Malay gangs then. There was only one gang. We were all armed with a sharpened compass from our Oxford Instrument Set. Woe befell the student from any other school who wandered into the vicinity. Things really got a bit out of hand at one time.

Someone from our school murdered someone from a rival school during a friendly inter-school football match. The headmaster and half the students were transferred or sacked after the incident. Things started going down hill after that. The glory days were over. Some went on to prison while others went on to colleges and universities. Some are still serving time today while others became captains of their industry, prominent national sportsmen, noisy Members of Parliament and even a blogger.

Thank you; Herman Tan, Raymond Hon, Peter Tan, Amarjeet Singh, Zulkifli Hamzah and S Rajagopal for reminiscing with me. High Street School was established in 1950, with premises at High Street (subsequently renamed Jalan Bandar and Jalan Tun HS Lee). In 1957, it moved to the present premises at Setapak, dropping the "Street" from its name.

© 2003 TV SMITH
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