Sunday, 28 June 2015

WATTOPERS Turn 50s: Celebrating 38 Years of Brotherhood - Part 8 (Under and overground activities)

We were at the college at the age where we were curious about many things in life, especially when we were not allowed to explore them. Like all schools, smoking was not allowed. I am sure most of the students in our batch did not smoke when we first arrived at the college. However, it did not take a long time before some of us started to pick up the habit, including my dorm mates. To some it was a macho thing to do, amongst other things.

For those who smoke, the most important thing after making sure not to be caught by the wardens was to secure the supply. They would initially get their supply from our seniors who smuggled the cigarettes from outside. The other option was to go out and buy the cigarettes themselves. This was done either during weekends when we were allowed to go to town or by sneaking out through the holes in the fences at the back of our dormitories and procure the supply from nearby shops. After a while, they became suppliers of cigarettes themselves.

The wardens knew about these activities and they did spot checks at the dormitories from time to time. As precautions, the smokers and suppliers hid their stuff at places where they thought would be difficult for the wardens to find the contrabands. The places included the toilets, holes in the mattresses, above the ceilings and other places which I myself could not figured out. Another tactic used was to re-arrange the beds and lockers so that they could have some additional time should they sense spot checks were to be made. Being season wardens, these tricks were not alien to them and in many instances they managed to find the cigarettes. Those who were caught were given warnings or if they were habitual offenders they were canned on the spot and the offences were recorded in their personal files.

The lights at our dormitories were supposed to be off by 11 pm and we were supposed to sleep. However, life did not necessarily stopped. There were many activities that happened beyond the lights off period.

Those who were hungry would proceeded to cook maggie. One of the reasons to do this after hours was because they will be "taxed" less by other dorm mates. Otherwise, the bowl had to be passed around and the actual amount that was left for the owner could be little. One of the tricks that I used was to pass the bowl of maggie around when it was boiling hot. It most instances, the rest would not take it as they could not stand the temperature.

There were students who were more adventurous when they felt hungry at night. One spot to find food was the dining hall. Sometimes, there could be biscuits left in their containers unattended. These boys would bring the containers back to the dormitories and we could happily have our supper. The supply could last for days.

One of the facilities provided to us was our TV room. Lights off meant that the TV has to be switched off and people has to go back to their dorms. This was not strictly followed all the time. Pok Ju could recall that he continued to watch the TV well beyond the lights off time. He and few other friend were comfortable as their rooms were not that far away. Suddenly the wardens appeared and started to cane whoever that were there. The students panicked and went out through the windows. The room was vacated in 5 seconds! Rafi, who was in the room as well ran towards his room by passing through the cloth drying area. Suddenly he realised that his vision was blurred, he dropped his spectacles when his face bumped on the lines. Luckily it was found and he went to his room feeling relieved.

The girls' dormitories were just adjacent to our block. Although fenced, some of the boys thought that slipping into the girls dormitories was exciting and fun. They did not cause any harm to any of the girls but they sneaked into their block to collect souvenirs such as panties, under garments and sleepers which were not that really useful for the boys. I knew a few who wore those staff and were brave enough to show off their collections by wearing the sleepers into the dining hall.

Some took the opportunity to go out and have meal outside the college after lights went off. In fact going out illegally through the most of the time broken fences was not really a big deal. Some even went out to watch movie in Kota Bharu. The warden and security staff tried to stop this by closing the holes whenever they appeared. It became a sort of cat and mouse game until one day one of us got upset and removed one who section of the fence. The gap so big that it could accommodate a car! The wardens gave up for a while and the gap was left unattended for few weeks. Eventually it was closed off and the cat and mouse game continued.

To prevent these sort of activities a number of wardens were required to live at our block. I remember that we had Cikgu Mahmud, our geography teacher, staying in his room adjacent to our dormitory B-6 or more popularly known as Bentoel-6 at that time. By the way Bentoel came from a brand of a cigarette from Indonesia. Some of us smoke that brand, hence that was how our dorm got our name. One memorable incidence was one of us peed on Cikgu Mahmud shoes. He was very upset, rightfully, and shouted madly. We kept quiet and pretended not to know who the culprit was. I am sure I know who did that and the person eventually became a professional. I am not sure whether he has apologised to Cikgu Mahmud or not. 

There were not internet in those days but it did not prevent many of us from doing what many growing up boys would do, to understand more about birds and the bees. One of the popular novel at that time was "Mona Gersang" a sexual explicit Malay novel which was published in the 80's (apparently when I googled this novel, there is an updated version). I was told that this novel was passed around and read by many people. Until today when the name of the novel is mentioned, it would trigger smiles amongst the adult Wattopers.
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