23 December 2012

Pakcik reminisces ( Pt 28 ) – 57 years on

1955 Diary

The front pages of my 1955 diary contain a list of over 30 names and addresses of boys and girls in Malaya and overseas.  If today a school boy spends lot of time on face/book I enjoyed writing letters to those pen-friends. Waiting with anticipation for the arrival of snail mails is a thrill by itself.

List of names and addresses

Among the many pen-friends was a boy named Abdul Khalik Hasan, studying in Anderson School, Ipoh. Like me he was also in Standard 9 (today’s Form 5)

My English school in Kuala Terengganu offered the following subjects for the final examination known as Cambridge School Certificate (CSC), a version of today’s SPM:

English language
English literature
General science
Health science

Subjects like Additional Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology had not come to this part of the world. I envied my pen-friend at Anderson School where he was able to choose Additional Maths and the three science subjects, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. And here I had to be satisfied with General Science and Health Science and just one mathematics subject.

I did not like History and was never good at drawing. So Arts was out of question too. As my passion was for Mathematics I begged the school administration to be allowed to take Additional Mathematics after performing well in that subject in Std 7 ( Form 3 ) examination. My wish was granted on one condition that I had to do it all absolutely on my own. There was no Add Maths teacher and the school library had no books on that subject. In my mind, if at that point in time I had fairly easily covered the simpler mathematics well ahead of class, I should not find it too difficult to tackle Add Maths on my own; the rationale of a simple mind!

So I took the challenge to self-teach myself Add Maths all the way without expecting any help from school.
The first task was to get hold of books on the subject. The only bookshop in town had nothing to offer. Fortunately I was skilled enough in correspondence. I wrote to a bookseller in KL ( I think it was Merican & Sons, if my memory has not failed me) for advice on a set of books for Add Maths; and subsequently I had one set of Add Maths books  posted to me. Money was not a problem. I was receiving a monthly allowance of 30 ringgits from the Federal Minor Scholarship (FDS). That sum was a lot of money when one could have ‘nasi dagang’ for 10 cents! I wonder, now, how in the first place I was awarded an FDS.

So from the beginning of my Std 8 ( Form 4) I started doing my Add Maths, working my way literally page by page, doing every worked example and all questions that followed every chapter. There were questions that took me days to solve. But I persisted backwards and forwards leaving no stone unturned until correct answers were found. The joy of arriving at correct answers was tremendous. I was enjoying the challenge.

However another six months from the CSC examination I was getting desperate to get at least one set of past question papers in Add Maths. I had to know the format of the two papers. It was in that time of need I realised that my pen-friend in Ipoh, Abdul Khalik, could help. What a joy it was to hear from him that he had one set of past question papers given to him by one of his seniors who sat for the subject in the previous year. Not wanting to part with the papers and in the absence of Photostat facility in those days, Abdul Khalik took the trouble to copy them in long hand, word for word, diagrams and all on sheets of paper which he sent to me by the snail post. I would not know how else I could obtain those valuable sheets of hand-written question paper.

Indeed, how could I ever forget that pen-friend in need?

I kept the handwritten question papers until about a couple of months to the examination. By then I I had covered most of the Add Maths books. So one fine day, with an alarm clock on the table, I sat to time myself working on the papers. At the end of it I was pleased to sense my readiness to enter the examination hall. 

On 5th and 6th December 1955 this 'kampong boy' walked all alone into the silence of the examination hall, surrounded by tables and chairs, and watched over by an English lady who was the invigilator.

My 1955 diary carries the following entries on the two days. 
Mon       5th Dec.
             10.30 – 12.35
             Add Maths I
              Expect ‘A’
Tues       6th Dec
              10.30 – 13.05
              Add Maths II
              Expect ‘A

2 hrs   5 min  for the first paper on Monday, and
2   ,,   35  ,,    for the second paper on Tuesday.

Look, I had the cheek to predict ‘A’ grade for both papers!

How could I tell that 57 years down the line “I shall be 
telling this with a sigh,
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. “

                     Robert Frost 
A year after the CSC examination I began to slow down 
writing to pen-friends, and finally I stopped altogether until almost towards the end of my working career. Then I began to reminisce my past. Somewhere the memory of that old pen-friend, Abdul Khalik kept surfacing. In vain I began a search for Abdul Khalik. I went so far as contacting the police station in Parit for their help to locate that elderly gentleman named Abdul Khalik Hasan.
As chance would have it, two months ago I read in a blog 
something about Anderson School’s Group of 1955.That rang a loud bell.  From there I was led to the blogger Abbdulhalimshah (of Dalu Dalu) who is one of regular visitors to Almanar. He kindly did a search and put me on the right track and finally, through one
Amran Hamid, I was in possession of a phone 
number which was supposed to belong to that old pen-friend. And soon I was on the phone hearing for the first time the voice of my old and very dear pen-friend, Tuan Hj Abdul Khalik Hassan, an ex Malayan Railway man, an imam who is now settled in Tronoh, Perak.
My Pen-Friend
And on 19th December, barely a week ago, Hj Abd
Khalik drove to Kuatan to see his son.
From there he and wife took the trouble to drive all the way to Kuala Terengganu just to meet us at Nuri. For the very first time we were able to hold hands and hug each other fondly.
The two old pen-friends
I am lost for words to describe how I felt on meeting 
the man who had a hand in shaping the course of my life.
I am glad to know that Hj Abdul Khalik has a very 
successful family, an architect residing in Australia, an engineer, an accountant etc, etc , not to mention one of his grandchildren who has been offered a scholarship even before her SPM result is known. Indeed he is a man to be congratulated.
I am certain I will have more to write about this old 
friend and about his wife, the latter is obviously a very talented lady.

Words of appreciation
My special thanks go to you En Abdul Halim Shah and 
En Amran Hamid for helping to make our historic meeting a reality.
Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.


guikp said...

what a lovely story. you both are so blessed and so resourceful.

abdulhalimshah said...

Dear Pak Cik,
One of the most satisfying moments in life is saying thank you to someone who had done a great favour that contributed to your endeavour in pursuing your ambition. Allah is Most Gracious and Compassionate. Allah has fulfilled your wish to meet Haji Khalik after 57 years, and I am grateful to Allah S.W.T. for being able to perform a simple gesture in making that most important connection. Alhamdulillah.

Al-Manar said...


‘Truth is stranger than life’ goes the saying. You have a lot of such stories but must have been very busy to write. Could I see a short one in early 2013, please?

Thank you for dropping by.

Al-Manar said...


And I can never thank you enough for your help.

pena said...

As salam Pakcik,
Oh wow! i am speechless with deligh for both of you and your families. ! Happy new year to you and makcik, God Willing, InsyAllah, we will hear much more from you next year!

Al-Manar said...


Perhaps one fine day you are on your in KT we will have a chance to meet. DBI and I have agreed to meet one day. But that doctor has little time for non-patient, priority for in/out-patients!

kaykuala said...

Dear Pakcik,
I love reading this. It showed your resolve at an early age to know exactly what you want. You had the foresight also to still treasure your diary which helped in tracing your Hj Khalik.
The above are themselves an education which young people can emulate as they have still the opportunity to do so ie to treasure useful info and pics of old.
Alhamdulillah you're now both connected. I'm glad my classmate AHS had a hand in this. I know AHS. He'll throw in his lot for friends. A sincere and strait talking guy whose favourite expression is to 'call a spade a spade' He would extend a helping hand without hesitation. Looking forward to a continuation this saga! Thanks for sharing!


Al-Manar said...


To me it is a shame that we have gone overboard replacing longhand records to computers. It is so assuring to flick through old albums as against what is stored in the computer. The fading colour in itself gives the sense of age.

I realise how close you and AHS are. You two are lucky. It is a true pleasure at ald age if old friends can live within easy reach. I am enjoying this since I returned to my home town on retirement. Whatever it is, time is limited. We cannot have everything, Hank

Anonymous said...

Salam Pak Cik,

A lovely story to warm the wet and cold days. Pak Cik is blessed to know such a good person. How's the sea? We even feel the strong winds here.


kaykuala said...

Dear Pakcik,
1) correction: continuation of this saga
2) Alhamdulillah! Thank our lucky stars we discovered blogging. You've already set on your reminiscences. Great for 2013! Am just wondering what goodness to make out for my own 2013. Have to think of something!


Al-Manar said...


How nice to see you.

In answer to your question I have just posted something about the weather. Unfortunately I have had problems to load a couple of pictures of the angry sea. I think we suffer less flood by the sea compared to where you are. Hope it is not bad.

Al-Manar said...

Do not worry. Think of the days you were at the military college and count how many have of your close buddies, dear to you, have gone. Then you can write something about each of them, their spouses and children - with a sigh and gratitude to HIM.

Wish you a successful year ahead.

ninotaziz said...

Dear Pakcik,
You never forgot. And that made a world of a difference.

I just had a reunion again with the Kolam Air girls on Christmas Day.

And Ikesha is singing in my ear.

Al-Manar said...


Memory is a powerful piece of hardware that can beat that of a computer in many aspects.

Yub are lucky to have the opportunuty to reunite with your KA friends - leaving poor husbands to look after the children? Poor things, even with children singing in their ears!

tokcik said...

Tuan Haji Hassan,

Haji Khalik has contacted me on this blog. I am happy to have a hand in uniting old acquaitances. Wishing ever lasting friendship. Khalik is a relative and classmate. My name is Amran A Hamid, more known in FB & blog as "Tok Cik" [TC].


tokcik said...

Salam & all the best to you and Haji Khalik.
from Amran A Hamid
[Tok Cik]

Al-Manar said...


Encik Amran I tried to contact you by leaving a message in your blog. But you seem to have left it without being updated for many months.

Thank you for dropping around. I would love to continue in touch. I would be very happy to have your email, if I may. Mine is almanar@pd.jaring.my

Please drop by from time to time. I can never thank you enough for my reunuion with Hj Abdul Khalik.

tokcik said...

Salam al-Manar (PakCik),

My humble apology on my unattended blog. I was taken ill with blood complication & I have left "Tokcik Tengok" unattended since August 2012 as I have been in and out of hospital [HUKM]. Haji Khalik visited me at HUKM soon after Hari Raya when he attended my son's wedding (I didnt made it on doctors' advice). You can catch me at email: amranahamid@gmail.com which I attended weekly.
All the best to you and family.

naba the mutant said...


Al-Manar said...


I am truly sorry to hear the seriousness of your health that you had to take leave from thE wedding . I pray that you are very much better. A bit of blogging may sooth your mind of the problem and improve recovery.

Salaam to you and family.

Al-Manar said...


Until you call in again, wish a happy new year.

Al-Manar said...


Until you call in again, wish a happy new year.

Haslina said...

Pakcik, i am so touched with this entry. First, with your determination as the sole candidate for the Add Maths paper and how you fought against all odds to achieve your dream. Yes, we the younger generations take for granted the facilities we have now and to think that your pen friend copied everything for you, someone whom he had not met before. He was a generous friend, indeed.
Then I am so happy that you thought of searching for this 'friend in need' and able to see him in person, finally, 55 years later. Hopefully you will be able to trace more of your old pen friends who had left prints in your heart. In shaa Allah, God willing.

Al-Manar said...


I am so pleased to see that you have taken the positive side of my entry - that our 'younger generations take for granted the facilities we have now'.

I was truly afraid of being seen as blowing own trumpet.

Anonymous said...

Salam Al Manar,

I'm deeply touched by your determination on Add Maths. Did you score grade A as expected? I have a similar story. Very much like you, I too didn't like Drawing Arts, thus I was short of one subject as the Headmaster was insisting on 9 subjects. So I opted to take Add Maths despite it not being taught by the school (in Bachok Kelantan, more ulu than your school). This was in 1969, 14 years after you. My Headmaster did lend me some books (no idea where he got them from). On my part, I bought a reference material (not a textbook)published by Omar Brothers Publication of Singapore at a bookshop in Kota Bharu. On the day of the exam, I was the only candidate supervised by 4 invigilators!! Felt like a VVIP. My grade: just cukup makan, P8. I would have got an F9 should I sit for Drawing Arts.

From: Idris Mamat

Al-Manar said...

Sdr Idris Mamat,

Welcome to Almanar community. I am somewhat surprised that Add Maths had not yet beeb introduced to your school in Bachok by 1969. I think Sultan Ismail in KB had it earlier than Sultan Sulaiman in KT.

Yes my result was as I expected. I cannot say it is a miracle because I put a lot into getting that. Others would do it as well with similar effort.

Salaam and a happy and successful new year to you and family.

Anonymous said...

Pak Cik Hassan,

Yes, SIC being the premier school in Kelantan offered Add Maths in 1969 but not schools in other districts, much less Bachok which is the smallest district in Kelantan. No Science Stream in Bachok during my time.

You're trying to be humble when you said it's not a miracle. To me IT IS a miracle considering that even students in schools which teach the subject still find it difficult to get a credit (C3-C6) let alone a distinction (A1 & A2).

Abt the FMS. I received only RM15 per month, already a princely sum for me those days. Imagine you got RM30 in 1955!!

Idris Mamat