Friday, March 13, 2009

The Past Revealed (Part 2) - Mysterious Bao Ling

"anyway, that quiz competition,
u noe this one girl from my school, rite?
kan kan kan?"
an attempt by my sister
to interrogate me.
The girl was Su Anne, whom I met at no less than three different occasions - each when both of us are representing our respective schools for some competition. The first two occasions were for maths and physics quiz competitions, while the third one was at KDU Penang when we attended the interview for the ASEAN Scholarship selection test. By the third meeting with her, we have already recognised each other and yours truly even managed to initiate a conversation with her.
I asked her with a friendly smile, "Hi! You are here too?"
"Yeah, it seems like we only meet in this kind of occasion, eh?" she replied me, trying to stress on her sentence.
That however, was the only exchange we had. After that, we went separate ways and since then, I have yet to see her. We now still keep in touch through online social networking websites like Facebook for instance, but it is very rare; like once in a year, perhaps? After I completed SPM, I did nothing throughout the three months before the result was announced in March 2005, except being selected to the National Service (NS) program.
I consider that to be one of the pivotal moments in my life.
The second year of the NS program was just about to kick start, and I was chosen to attend the camp in Gopeng, about twenty-minute drive down-south from Ipoh. Months before I got to know that I was selected, I prayed, every single day without fail, hoping that I will not be among those I consider unlucky ones selected to undergo the three months "summer camp". Finally, one morning on August 2004, the announcement came through. In order to check out whether or not we were selected through SMS, we were required to key-in the twelve-digit IC number and press the "send" button, which was exactly what I did. A few seconds later, my phone rang and I got a message. I was dead sure it came from the NS people and I was half-shivering and wouldn't dare to read the message. After contemplating for a few seconds while praying hard the reply will send me some happiness, I pressed "view" and...
"Tahniah, anda telah terpilih untuk menyertai Program Latihan Khidmat Negara Siri 2/2005 bla bla bla..."
I think they should have used the word "Takziah" instead of "Tahniah". The F-word was uttered almost naturally reading the message. My biggest nightmare came true and I almost broke into tears. My mom didn't do me much favour when I went down and told her about that great news as she happily told me, "Good-lah, at least you won't be so bored staying in the house only". Throughout the day, I was so sad, furious, disappointed, hopeless, down, emo and all the other negative feelings you can find in the dictionary.
Also, I was pondering this question to myself, "There are still thousands of kids out there who wished to be selected, why pick someone like me who doesn't want to get picked to strike this lottery?"
Several days passed, and I finally came into my senses that I still have to attend the camp no matter how much I complain about it. I'm not sure about the present law, but back then, whoever failed to report at their camps without a concrete reason like health problems for example, can be fined and jailed. A week after I sat for my last paper of SPM, my parents sent me off at the Kamunting Raya bus terminal. Hundreds, if not thousands of people crowded the bus terminal on that morning on December 13, 2004. The trainees were mostly accompanied by their family members to bid them farewell before they leave for three months. Scenes of tears rolling down the cheeks of the trainees were everywhere, especially among the girls.
Like a classic Malaysian style, the bus left two hours later than the scheduled time as there were latecomers. By eleven, the bus left the bus terminal, and I waved goodbye to my parents. Inside the bus, nobody familiar was spotted and I was practically alone throughout the long, gloomy two-hour journey to the camp.
I didn't know what to expect upon reaching the camp. It will be the longest period I will be away from home and loads of thoughts began to surface my mind. Will I survive the three months there? Will I be able to adapt myself in a totally different environment? Will I miss home? One thing for sure, I was totally clueless at that time.
The bus made an exit at Gopeng and the bus went through an area with abandoned mining pools which were turned into a pond to rear fish, before we are able to locate the camp. Everyone stood up from their seats and flip the curtain to look outside through the half-tinted window. We were amazed with the facilities there. The first thing that caught my attention was a three-storey tower which is used for abseiling and flying-fox activities.
"Am I going to do all these?"
was the first thought I had.
We registered at the camp and were immediately assigned to different dorms according to our groups, and I was in the Alpha Company. There are four companies in to total, Beta, Charlie and Delta being the other three. In each company, they are again divided into four platoons and I was in Platoon 2. The dorms for the boys and girls are at the opposite end, with a pond, the canteen and the instructors' dorms in between. Each dorm accommodates two platoons, so there were roughly twenty-four of us in my dorm. This camp was a new one, because we were the first batch to train there. In the previous year, the kids were not as lucky since they had to stay inside canvas camps and whenever it rains, you can imagine how messy and chaotic the aftermath will be. So, having a dorm made of concrete, with several ceiling fans isn't that bad after all.
I walked to the dorm which I was placed, with the help of one guy whom I saw on the way there. I approached him and asked him if the dorm is the correct one, while pointing to the dorm right in front of me. Seeing me as a resemblance to a lost cub in the jungle, he nodded in confirmation with a benevolent smile. I later found out that he is a former army, and the head instructor who would be in-charge of our company. I stepped into the dorm but it was rather vacant at that time, so I got to pick my bed. I walked two beds away from the door and decided to take that bed right away. I put down my stuff and sat on the bed, to take a short rest. Everybody around me was busy with their stuff, and we didn't really start communicating with each other yet.
No long after that, a guy wearing a spec, with an average height came into the dorm and he chose the bed on my left. His name was Farhan, but we later call him Pa'an. He was the first guy whom I talked to and we introduced ourselves briefly. I went to the bathroom, which was just next to our dorm to refresh myself. It wasn't that bad as I thought. There were four shower rooms, six to eight toilets, a few basins and huge water catchment pool in the centre of the bathroom. That pool is supposed to collect water for the trainees when they bathe and do their laundry in the bathroom, and we were warned not to turned hippo and dip our bodies inside the pool. But there were countless of times where some of my dorm mates ignore that warnings and those daredevils even tried to dive into the pool.
It was already evening by the time we settled down and we walked to the canteen to have our dinner. Well, when you are in a training camp, you can't expect a five-star food, can you? The food was okay to me, because I'm not the picky type when it comes to food. I don't mind eating anything, as long as it fills my stomach and it's not something bizarre, like a raw monkey brain, for example. The next activity was to divide us into groups like I have mentioned earlier, followed by discussions among our group about our motto, flag, vision and etc, which was held at the canteen too. Basically, whenever there is a gathering or talk session during the night, it will be held there.
There are usually two distinct groups when it comes to a discussion, i.e. the ones who talks and gives their opinions throughout the whole discussion, and another one who will just be happy to remain silent and be the follower. I would say I fall in the latter category because like I have said before, I do not talk much back then. Seeing almost everyone started to speak up, I also joined some smaller group who were discussing about the design for the flag. I'm not sure whether I posses the artistic face, but they kept asking for my opinions. I am not the best person around when it comes to art, maybe just above average at best, I would say. Nevertheless, I threw them with some ideas, whichever I thought to be suitable enough.
But, someone started to mention a name, a girl's name. People were talking about how good she is in art, and were looking for her to help out on the drawing and colouring part. I wasn't sure of her name on that first night; all I heard was something like "Bao Ling". I was curious, eager to know who this mysterious girl was. I tried to locate this girl in the canteen, without having any idea how does she looks like.
Just before the session ended on the first night, I finally managed to catch a first glimpse of this girl. She stands at about five feet two, has a pair of two bright eyes, long and smooth hair, with a sweet smile. Even with the presence of many other girls there, no doubt she was the only one who caught my eyes. I didn't get the chance to approach and greet her on that first night; but it was from that night that my feelings for her began to bloom.
~ to be continued ~


Anonymous said...

wow , u keep me waiting for more !

=chuan guan= said... i reading a novel?hahah

calvin said...

@ anonymous:
more to come soon =)

calvin said...

@ =chuan guan=:
yes, a non-fictional novel.

Kae Vin said...

lol. So long-winded.

and i almost went to volunteer myself to join NS until my mum stopped me~! XD


calvin said...

@ specialhuman:
long-winded i may be, but not in the aunty-ish way for sure xD

now you got an excuse whenever your mom ask you to get a girlfriend. just tell her she shouldn't have barred you from joining the national service last time; otherwise you might not be a single anymore now =P

mg said...


calvin said...

@ michelleg:
awww... *hugs*

zhenhui said... all write about girls only la??

what about me??

i tak kira lah?



calvin said...

@ zhen hui:
you? who are you? =P

zhenhui said...

i slept with you for 2 years weh....

2 years!!

Anonymous said...

calvin , dont forget pple that u have slept with!

calvin said...

@ zhen hui:
that makes you my sleep partner for two years =)

calvin said...

@ anonymous:
i don't know who you are, but if you need more detailed info, yes, i slept with my mom and my sister before as well ;)

i'd appreciate it a lot if you make your identity known =)