When I was at the age of 13, my parents sent me off to a boarding school. I remember that morning, when mom and dad dropped me off to the dorm where I would be staying, I was totally devastated, sad and scared too. For the past 13 years of my life, I’ve never been apart from my parents. I’ve never even had sleepover at friends’ house – they stayed over my place instead. So you could understand the feelings I had.
“Take care, Cindy. Don’t get yourself into trouble ya?”
I wanted to scream. I wanted to beg. I wanted to cry.. but words couldn’t get out of my mouth, nor could my tears. I stood at the doorway, still clutching on the sweater mom gave me earlier in the car. Kak Eda, a family friend’s daughter who happened to be at the same boarding school, picked up one of my bag and told me that everything would be fine. That she would be there for me…
The moment I entered my room, there were four sets of bunk beds, all covered with white sheets. She pointed at a lower bed, indicating that it would be my bed during my stay at the dorm. I asked her if I could get the top one, and she said, “Aren’t you afraid of height? You might fall at night while you sleep..” So I chose the lower bed.
Life at the boarding school weren’t that easy but it was fun at times. Losing my temper with some of the tenants, having my bed sheet stolen from the drying place, skipping classes with my friends and hiding inside our locker when the warden came to do the routine check, stealing someone else’s Mirinda Orange that was left unattended at the study room and shared it within my circle of friends, getting caught playing Ouija Board by the discipline teacher, experiencing a ghostly encounter at the dorm .. are just some of the many things I experienced there.
During my whole stay at the boarding school, there was never a Friday that goes by without having me by the public phone, crying to my parents.
“Pleeeeeeeease.. take me home. I want to go home!!!”
Can you believe that my parents had to endure these kind of calls every Friday? LOL. I know that sound pathetic but that’s what I did. I’d save my coins on Thursday just to make sure I have enough coins to make that Friday call..
Then one afternoon, after class, I was on my way back to the dorm when I saw my father at the dorm entrance. I quickly ran to him and cried while hugging him, still begging for him to take me home. I know he would give me the usual “Come on, Cindy.. just hang in there. It’s for your own good..” but I don’t care. I just want to let him know that I want to go home.
“You can start packing your stuff. We’ll fetch you home this weekend.”
I couldn’t believe what I heard!! I can FINALLY go back home with my parents!! So before the weekend arrive, I’ve already finished packing my stuff and informed all of my friends that I would be leaving. 6 MONTHS OF CRYING every Friday on the public phone, my parents finally gave in. It was kinda sad saying goodbye to my friends, honestly. I will never forget the look on Mimi’s face when she cried at the window waving goodbye to me. She was one of my closest friend at the dorm. She was the one who taught me how to eat Maggi (instant noodle) without cooking it. We had so much fun altogether… As much as I hate leaving her and my other friends behind, I was more thrilled that I could finally go home with my parents, eating home-cooked meal and having a housemaid to do my laundry! Hahahaha!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my 6 months stay in that dorm, was transforming myself into a more independent person. At the boarding school, I learned how to wash my clothes, I learned how to deal with many people from all walks of life, I learned how to respect the elders, I learned how to appreciate my parents more… and I learned how life outside of home is. It was at the boarding school that I learned how to hang my laundry properly, according to their sizes at the hanging line. (To this day, I cannot stand seeing how people would just dry their clothes in the most ugly way. They should hang it according to the sizes!!) I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to learn.. I wouldn’t want to change that even if I had the chance to go back to my past. In fact, it was the life in a boarding school that made me decide to get a mini pillow as my friend..
One that Malaysian people would call bantal busuk.