Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Kirkby Alumni Reunion: what it means for me

My daughter Nadiah viewing the Kirkby Exhibiton at INTAN Bukit Kiara

Uncle Jef's (Jaafar Saidin) oil painting of the MTTC campus was on exhibition

Many old photos of Kirkby days. This collage has one photo with Apak in it taken on the morning of Hari Raya in 1956

The Kirkby College Alumni Grand Reunion was held over two days from 28 – 29 November 2008. It kicked off with the Kirkby Educational Exhibition at INTAN, followed by a Convention on Teachers Education officiated by the Minister for Education. The finale was the Kirkby Grand Reunion Dinner at PICC, Putrajaya graced by Her Royal Highness Raja Permaisuri Perak, Tuanku Bainun.

It was a momentous occasion for Kirkbyites. Half a century after returning home from Kirkby, and after contributing with their youthful zest and energy to the development of our young nation, the government has finally given them due recognition and their rightful standing in the education community which they fully deserve. We are, after all, talking about a pioneering group of educators, a group of people with immense impact and a lasting legacy on the development of education in Malaysia.

For me, it was an emotional experience.

This reunion came a month too late for Apak, my father. Apak had passed away exactly one month earlier. If only… if only Apak was still around, he would have savoured this moment too. That, I am very sure of.

Even if, for whatever reason, he had not been able to be at the functions himself, I would be there on his behalf. And the event would be duly reported to him - complete with photos and memorabilia attached. This is because Apak had known about this reunion. You see, he had received a personal invitation from the organizers. Alas, it was not to be.

I have told myself a long time ago that, when Apak passes on, I should take up the responsibility of continuing his friendship. So, here I am now, a full-fledge Associate Member of Persatuan Alumni Maktab Kirkby Malaysia.

I took my family to see the Kirkby exhibition at INTAN yesterday. Although it was just a small one, I'm sure it was enough to bring back the good old memories of Kirkby for all the Kirkbyites. If Apak was there, he too would have been able to relate to the many photos, maps, paintings and documents on exhibition.

For me, it gave me a sense of fulfillment just to be there. I felt so lucky to be able to experience a piece of something which my father had actually experienced for himself more than fifty years ago. I had always known that Kirkby was something special to Apak. Yesterday, at the exhibition, I came that little bit closer to understanding why it was so special.

The Mem Besar, Syafiq and Anas gawked at the exhibits. Even my youngest daughter, Nadiah, got excited when she managed to point out to me a group photo of her Atok.

Amongst the many items on display, I could certainly recognize two oil paintings of the MTTC campus. They were the paintings by one of Apak’s closest friends from his Kirkby days, Jaafar Saidin. I had seen the paintings many times before at Uncle Jef’s home in Alor Setar, and later in Kulim. Apparently, he had given the paintings away to the organizers of the exhibition as a token of his contribution to make the event a success.

Later in the night, I attended the Kirkby Grand Reunion Dinner at PICC, in Putrajaya.

Again, I felt blessed and lucky to be there.

For I was now amongst the Kirkbyites in full force. They came dressed in their best, donning jackets proudly displaying their Kirkby MTTC crest. The camaraderie, the respect for each other, and the dignified presence that they projected over-awed me.

Throughout the event, I couldn’t help thinking that these are the very people whom my father – my own Apak, had rubbed shoulders with. These are the people with whom my father must have studied, worked, and played with.

It must have been an honour for him. It was for me... just to be in their presence.


KotaStar said...

Dear Azizi,
A great letter because you spoke on behalf of yr dad. I am sure he would feel contented to be back with old friends. Though not many of our group was around, you did realise the friendship and the togetherness that continue to exist.All of us fell the respect and dues shown esp by the Minister of Education and the promises that will come our way and that of the children in yrs to come.The Heritage Book will be a good reference to know more about Kirkby.You must be thankful and grateful that you enlisted as associate and gain a wonderful experience discovering the soul that yr dad went through in his early teen. Sadly not many children of the Kirkbyites harbour that sentiment and they lose out. I congratulate you and join in the happiness that you come to share. The certificate signed by the Minister is testimony to our contributions many yrs ago. It should get a special place in yr home in memory of Ahmad Tarmizi Md Noor yr dad. Salam


Saudara azizi,

Thank you for the posting.At least I know what went on there at KL.May I wish all kirkbyites in the best of health.

Congratulations to all.

azharoth said...

days filled with emotion, I can truly imagine.I can relate to that, surely. being the first born makes it extra special, I guess, this i can only imagine. You should be proud to represent your dad. reading this, even I can sense a sense of pride, the little that I know of your dad. Allah bless his soul.

Queen Of The House said...

Very wonderfully written. I grew up knowing what's there to know about Kirkby from both my parents who were there. The wooden barracks are a familiar sight, for example. It's very commendable for you to carry on the legacy by being an associate member. That's something new.

Al-fatihah for your Apak.