Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Past Revealed (Part 3) - The P-Mission

"walaupun kami tak pernah bercakap sebelum ini,
kamu nampak so cool (garang).
saya tak berani cakap dengan kamu. hi! hi!"
a comment in the blue scrap book,
by one Chinese girl.
I walked back to my dorm, and the name "Bao Ling" continued to surface in my mind. On another note, I find it an uncommon, a name that sounds rather traditional for a Chinese girl. Or maybe I'd misheard them when they pronounced her name earlier that night.
"I must find out more about this girl," I told myself secretly, just before I dozed off.
We were provided with three sets of uniform - a combat uniform, a sports uniform and another one for class sessions, which we all thought it looked more like a uniform for factory workers. They had a tough time looking up the right-sized uniform for me. In fact, it was kind of shocking for them to have me asking for a bigger-than-normal sized uniform. In the end, I got a pair of brand new combat attire, because not many people are as huge as me, I suppose.
The first few days were the most difficult time to cope with since we weren't used to the daily routine, yet. We woke up before the sun rises, walked to the toilet when it was still dark, let the cold water flows over our bodies for our morning shower, got ourselves ready with our sports uniform - sky blue T-shirt and a black cotton track bottom, and assembled in front of the dorm when the sky was still dark. Right after that, we'll walk in a group to the assembly field and it continued every single day throughout the 3 months "summer camp".
Morning routine includes rising up the Jalur Gemilang while singing the national anthem, morning jogs around the camp for some half an hour and after that, we will head to the canteen to have our breakfast. Everyone has their own trays and we have to wash our own trays and bring it back to the dorm after each meal, and take it to the canteen again for the next meal.
For those spoilt brats, they just can't be bothered to clean their own trays; leaving their trays in the sink after every meal and steal the trays of others when they have their meal the next time. As for those who apparently don't have any common sense, they will just flow their remaining food from their trays into the sink, which explains the stench and disturbing sight of the sinks after each meal. And no, I'm not even exaggerating.
Moving on, usually we get some time to rest after our breakfast, and most of us take the opportunity to do our laundry, or for some who didn't get to bathe earlier, they take their showers during this hour of the day. The next activity would be the physical module, one of the four modules besides nation building module, character building module and community service module. The physical module includes marching, obstacle course, hand-to-hand combat, canoeing, survival training and first aid training.
During the first couple of weeks, the thoughts I had about "Bao Ling" were put to a rest due to the hectic and tiring daily routine we went through. But once we got used to the routine, her name popped out in my mind, once again. I didn't approach anybody to find out more about this girl, but from the chatting I overheard from the other guys, it seems that this girl is attracting attention from all the guys in the camp. Prior to that, I've never liked or had any crush on girls; or maybe it just isn't something that crossed my mind before. Somehow, this particular girl, not only caught my attention, also the one who made me had sleepless night, and end up thinking that I liked her.
Blame the hormones.
However, there was one obstacle I had to face. I knew where I stand by that time, because back then, it was my first time having so many Chinese who are non-English speakers around me. Back in my secondary school, we used to converse in either English or my local dialect, Hokkien. But now, it was either Mandarin or Cantonese, especially those who are from Ipoh. A fresh banana like me found it so difficult to mix with the Chinese kids there.
And the result, short conversations were the only solution except for the ones whom I often talked to, and we still keep in touch until today. I spent most of my time with the non-Chinese friends which got me an image among the others which I find it rather hilarious, when I read a few comments I got from the blue scrap book I passed around during the final week before the camp ended. Some said that they thought I couldn't speak Chinese and they sometimes gossiped about me since I do not mix with them much.
While the others even took one step further by writing their comments in Bahasa.
When I chatted with them a few months after the camp, they were rather taken aback when I told them I can speak some Mandarin, although not as fluent as them. All this while, they actually thought I only speak English and Bahasa Melayu. Not a shocking discovery that I gave such impression to the others at the camp, I would say.
The talks among the guys about that girl continued as the days passed by. Not very long after that, I found out her real name. It wasn't "Bao Ling". Her name was Pauline. Just the perfect name for the girl. I didn't take any actions despite the fact that I've finally know her name now. The daily routine just continued like usual.
As much as I would love to know more about this girl, I somehow didn't approach her to at least introduce myself, let alone asking for her number. Most of the time, I would just stare at her from afar, especially during the physical module. Standing under the scorching sun and marching for a few hours, or even going through countless rounds of obstacle course was worth it, because it offered me the chance to steal some glances at her.
After a tiring day full of demanding activities, we'd had free time after our dinner and that was the time where we are allowed to do whatever we want, unless there are any night talks by the instructors, in which we would have to gather at the canteen. We were provided with six meals every day, including supper. There was one time after a night activity at the canteen that I purposely spend my time at the canteen after a satisfying bowl of green beans porridge, pretending to look at the notice board to check out the activities for the following day. The truth is, my intention was not to look at the whiteboard obviously, but just to catch a glimpse of her, just in case she happened to be at the canteen still.
And jackpot!
Indeed she was there; chatting happily and sharing some jokes with her girl friends at the other corner of the canteen. I remained rooted in front of the notice board, hoping for her to come over as well as I know most of us will usually check-out the notice board before they leave the place. As the trainees began to leave the place, the number of people there started to get lesser and lesser, but she was still talking to her friends. Just when I thought of giving up, I saw her waking towards my direction. I sensed that my heartbeat began to pound faster than usual.
I ignored that entirely, fearing I'll embarrass myself if I weren't to control it, because this could be my night.


Cieri said...

to be continue lagi ke......

specialhuman said...

lol u liked someone even b4 u saw her? XD

calvin said...

@ cieri:
told you it's gonna be quite a long one; and after all, i don't want it to be a summary in one single post only =)

calvin said...

@ specialhuman:
i'd actually seen her. refer this;

"Just before the session ended on the first night, I finally managed to catch a first glimpse of this girl." - first line of the last paragraph from part 2.

it was one of those times during your teenage years, when every crush you had made you thinking that she is someone you like. but in the end, nothing happened.

i'm sure you had had a fair share of such experience too, don't you?

Anonymous said...

the wait keeps me thrilled

sum said...

damn nice story ! hope to see the future parts(1,2,3,....10 also can), btw ur a great storyteller

Cieri said...

kk...I will just keep boiling my edamame to munch while reading your memoirs~

=chuan guan= said...

lol lol lol..as expected..haha

MichelleG said...


black cat said...

wei u r teasing me wei..!!

calvin said...

@ anonymous:
hope you are enjoying it so far =)

calvin said...

@ sum:
thanks. i'll take that as a compliment. it could be more than 10 parts; so lets see how it goes ;)

calvin said...

@ cieri:
yup, that's a better option; it's healtier, ain't it? =D

calvin said...

@ =chuan guan=:
what did you expect?

calvin said...

@ michelleg:
the emoticon's gonna change in a few more post ^.^

calvin said...

@ black cat:
haha, did i? which part? xD