Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Tale of Two Schools in Alor Setar

Gosh, the first month of the new year 2009 has just ended. Time passed by so swiftly in January. Lots of exciting things have happened, and February promises to be even more exciting. My brother started his secondary schooling at Sultan Abdul Hamid College (SAHC) and this excites Papa no end. Yesterday, when my brother told Mama that his application to MRSM was not successful, I swear I heard Mama cackled so heartily. Papa reasoned out that there are many more deserving students who really really need the limited places in MRSM more than my brother.

Whenever time permits, Papa always looks forward to the trip to SAHC, either to send my brother off on Saturday morning for him to attend the replacement classes or to fetch him in the evening after the co-curiculum activities on a weekday. Apart from the banners and permanent writing on the wall of the Sultan Abdul Hamid Pavilion proclaiming 100 years of excellence, what struck him most upon entering the compound of SAHC was the overall feel good ambience, as narrated to a couple of SAHC blogger-alumni:

1. Mat Cendana (10 January): Gosh, early this morning I ventured into SAHC for the first time. And I wanted so much to spend time in Stuart Library, but the door was shut, or so it seemed. The atmosphere was enchanting and full of aura. Am crazy about the old trees flanking the road leading to the teachers’ room.

2. Kak Teh (24 January): I've been to SAHC twice now, and really enjoyed the exhilarating short drive along the Persiaran Tunku Abdul Rahman as we entered the compound, then passed the imposing Main Building overlooking the rugby field and the Menara Alor Setar at a distance, and finally made our exit via the Persiaran Tun Dr Mahathir, with Stuart Library on the left and the Pavilion on the right. And the countless majestic raintrees flanking both the Persiaran, what a sight to behold.

However, rather depressingly, he felt devoid of similar uplifting
experience when he visited another famous all-girls school on the other part of town, in Jalan Telok Wanjah, near Istana Kuning and Menara Alor Setar. Relocated since the middle of 2001, St. Nicholas Convent (SNC) is just a skeletal of her former self. The one-storey classrooms situated along the main road are now converted into one big kopitiam (yellow inside), serving almost everything under the Malaysian sun for breakfast; nasi kerabu, nasi dagang, and toast, baked beans and grilled sausage, if that takes your fancy.

And the double storey buildings where the teachers’ rooms were located now lay abandoned, and unloved. Was there a concerted effort to preserve that great school whose illustrious alumni include Dr. Wan Azizah, Malaysia’s first female Opposition Leader?