A. Zidni Mat (Sekolah Alam Shah, Jalan Yaacob Latif, 56000 KL, 96-00)
My first year in SAS. I remember being captain of the class of 1 Jaya before Syahrul took over the seat half way. Our class teacher was Pn Nik Anita, an English guru, but I ended up learning the second language in Pn Norezah’s set. I wasn’t good but somehow managed to settle in the Set A. It was an excellent year because I trumped everyone and walked the stage for an award. Unfortunately, that happened only during the first year.
Life in 3B1 was not too bad. My dorm lead Hanafi “Chonotte” Zamali was pretty cool. Ridhwan Jahya was also a good dorm lead although temporary. But the rests of the leads were just having too much fun picking on us. The fifth formers were also having a little too much fun. One time, we had to wear this funny newspaper hat while sweeping their dorms and changing their bed sheets.
I had trouble with my uncannily best buddy (you won’t believe who) and parted ways. All of the paths I initially ventured with him had also changed. That happened easier by having Yusof, the head boy as a model. I started joining the Army cadets, taking up Silat Gayong as martial arts, etcetera. (Yusof is now a colleague at XOM Malaysia. We work on the same floor but in a different group.)
Zaaba dinner, Oct 12 1996. From left: Zawani (arts master), Shafiq Idris (tough rugger), me, and Syazwan (linguist, eloquence)
Second year was the toughest. But I also grew up a lot as a result. Tough times had stretched my comfort zone wide apart.
Cita was basically the top class, followed by Usaha, Jaya, and Maju. My academics took a bit of a dive since the competition was imminent. It went downward also due to a few other reasons. Firstly, I was promoted as trial prefect last year, to begin the tenure this year, and adjusting to the situation of added responsibilities at a very young age was not very easy. Fortunately, I was not alone. The other 4, namely Ikhwan, Nik Izwan, Syahill, and Wan Azryn were struggling the same. I had to share a room in the Prefect Block C with 2 fifth formers, senior prefects Ashraf and Syukri. That wasn’t easy as well. Third, there was this back-row team in the back of the class that always bashed and picked on the rest, especially those who couldn’t normally defend themselves. Most of us just ignored them, praying that their words would hit themselves back one day.
From left: [unknown-host], Rezza, Fariz (now in ExxonMobil Houston), [unknown-host], Wan Azryn, Jau, yours truly, and Nik Izwan. Ikhwan and Syahill squatting. The seniors couldn’t attend this gathering so they sent the juniors.
Earlier part of the year, my batch disowned my existence, mostly as a result of being a prefect that they disliked. Learning a lesson or two from my dad about carrying responsibility and maintaining the rapport simultaneously, I recovered, to my own disbelief. I was never the same Zidni ever since. That incident changed my character forever.
Then I made a case, the report of which had been exaggerated by a senior whom I will never forget. It was totally by accident, happened during my time as a debate team-materials researcher. The case went up to the top and my parents had to talk to the principal. As if that’s not bad enough, not long afterwards, some seniors stepped on me for skipping march practice, although I was actually helping Cikgu Md Noor Samat painting the SDS room. I was literally being stamped on while I was doing push-ups on the dorm 1B2. I’m just glad my rib cage didn’t break or anything. I still remember the 2 seniors, their faces, and their names.
I became furious but fortunately, that was being flowed and controlled into martial arts. Promotion from blank to white and preparation for green within a year was quite a progress. During training under Cikgu Rasul, I joined a spare-fight with 2 other whites against a green fourth former and later sustained an injury on the left arm, in a cast for a couple of weeks.
Regardless of all the troubles, I was quite active in Nasyiid and mastered a thing or two in the Army cadet. My “digital” passion was launched when Ihsan, Zhafran, and I began to assist Cikgu Md Noor Samat in re-establishing the SDS (Sistem Data Sekolah). Consequently, I switched from Math club to Computer club. English somehow progressed a lot, thanks to an inspiring teacher, Mrs Goh Siew Lay. Ustaz Rahim liked my recitation, promised to register me in BUSAS (Badan Ugama SAS) but he never really did. Consequently, I retired from reciting/Tilawah and even Azan for that matter, because Ajak or Hairul Bakri was better recognized and he was indeed better. I lost my internal drive and neither did I have any guide to help me keep on.
Things were beginning to improve. I remember being nominated as Naqib (tutor) for Usrah. That pretty much launched my experience in tutoring. Although Naqibs were not part of the religious body BUSAS, we were scheduled to tutor the first formers every Sat night under their support and supervision.
Academic level also stabilized. Although I had to work really hard to get into the top 5, at least I didn’t drop to over 10 in the ranking like last year. I had a tutor by name of Ihsan Khairir, who taught me mostly Science and English. Math was a snap but subjects that required memory like Geography or History tend to whack me left and right all the time. The junior 5 prefects were still junior because the board decided not to appoint Form 2 prefects anymore, so we were the only batch of prefects that started off as early as second formers. Ikhwan, Syahill and I stayed in Prefect Block 2C4, somehow away from all the rest. Zul Azmi was our overall lead.
We attended a course somewhere in Malacca. It was basically for prefects to improve their leadership skills, paperwork, process optimization and all. I just enjoyed the teamwork stuff, like kayak and outdoor.
At the end of year three, we sat for PMR and excelled as projected. I finally got an A for geography and history.
Academic level stabilized further. I decided to take up the challenge of Accounting Principles that landed me in the “Maju” zone. For upper secondary, Maju zone is the crème de la crème. These folks dared to take another additional challenging subject and strive further. Some decided to do so to be in a “conducive academic environment” and I consider that to be a smart move indeed. To toil towards the best, you must surround yourself with the best.
Something about my brain that I cannot deny is its ability to pick things up quicker than most. In the early days of adapting to upper secondary subjects, main sciences like Chemistry and Physics, I was answering and asking questions like its nobody else’s business. Even the eventual top 3 were stunned with my involvement. But another plague of my brain that I also can’t deny is its complacency. I was comfortable with the reputation and that surely stemmed much contribution to any action of sustainment. Soon I fell out of place, still within the top five but away from the original top spot. I just repeated the lower secondary pattern: performed very well in the first year, but slacked of a lot in the second and the third. But I learned my lesson – this time, I was not going to let that to happen again.
The Maju scholars.
My first “sparring” partner was KAM (Khairul Ariffin Muhazar). I remember practicing Add Math problems every chance we could and always comparing how we did what.
From left: HP Malaysia chairman or something, Chegu Kamal, myself, Syamsul, Hikmat, and Ihsan.
I’m too lazy to write. We won the 3rd place in the National HP quiz competition.
to be continueed…