Onions,Sugar Canes, and a Long-Lost Friend
In the fast-paced world of today, there’s something incredibly comforting about revisiting the memories of our school days. These formative years shape us in ways we may not fully realize until later in life. Join me on a journey back in time as I recall my experiences at Methodist English Primary School and Secondary School. This story isn’t just about academic lessons. It’s also about quirky traditions, unexpected superstitions, and a surprising reunion after almost fifty years.
Primary School Beginnings
It all started in 1959, when I embarked on my educational journey at Methodist English Primary School. While I may not remember every detail from those early years, there’s one memory that stands out vividly – my first day of school.
In a charmingly superstitious gesture, my parents secretly placed onions and sugar cane in my school bag. Why, you ask? Well, according to Cantonese tradition, “onion” symbolizes intelligence, and they hoped it would boost my smarts. Similarly, sugar cane represented sweetness, and they believed it would make me a kinder person.
Imagine the surprise when one of my classmates decided to explore my bag and discovered these unusual items. Laughter ensued, leaving me slightly red-faced. Little did I know that this classmate would soon become my closest friend.
A Remarkable Friendship
As fate would have it, the classmate who found my bag’s peculiar contents became my best friend throughout primary school. We embarked on countless adventures together. We spent hours in the school library, devouring books and exploring new worlds through literature. Our shared love for music led us to tune in to the radio for the latest pop songs by artists like Cliff Richard, The Shadows, The Beatles, and more.
My friend had a unique style, emulating Elvis Presley with his signature high hairstyle. But that wasn’t all; he also had a soft spot for Mary Poppins and even adopted the nickname “Poppy Leong.” Our days were filled with spinning tops, catapults, marbles, and the thrill of capturing fighting fish from nearby rivers and spiders from towering trees.
We flew kites, rode bicycles, played games, and became active members of the Boy Scout movement. Those school days were a kaleidoscope of adventures and shared experiences.
A Bittersweet Farewell
As with all good things, my cherished friendship took an unexpected turn. One day, my best friend left school without a word of farewell. I was left bewildered and saddened. He had mentioned the possibility of relocating to Seremban with his family but provided no forwarding address or any means of staying in touch.
For years, I wondered about him and the abrupt end to our friendship. It felt like a chapter left incomplete, a story without closure.
Reunited After 48 Years
Fast-forward to 2015, and something incredible happened. After an astonishing 48-year gap, my long-lost friend and I were reunited, all thanks to the marvels of modern technology. Social media platforms like Facebook, Google, WhatsApp, and email played a pivotal role in reconnecting us.
To my amazement, he was now living in Jakarta, Indonesia. I made not one but two visits to Jakarta solely to reunite with my dear friend. The passage of time had caused him to forget about onions, sugar cane, his Elvis Presley hairstyle, and even his beloved alias, Poppy Leong.
A Sad Ending
Unfortunately, my best friend passed away peacefully in Jakarta in 2020 due to lymphoma, leaving behind his wife. Rest in peace, my friend; we will meet again in heaven in the next life.