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Monday, May 14, 2007

Beautiful Story (Yet Sad) for all

A true story - by my schoolmate & also classmate. Aku tak sure Ben, as mentioned below sama batch dgn Badrul atau tidak. Al-fatihah untuk beliau.
An eventful incident happended sometime in 1982 when I was in Form 4, studying at a residential school in Kuala Lumpur. I had finally saved enough to purchase my first ever pair of jeans and I was understandably ecstatic. My parents had always been strict not only withregards to my studies but also in my dressing, hence jeans was a definite no-no as it was deemed a bit of 'out-of-line' in terms of 'proper' appearance. Now that the money had been from my own savings, I could finally exercise my rights as a teenager and after a trip to Pertama Complexon a Saturday outing, I was a proud owner of a new pair of jeans.
To my horror, the joy lasted only about 2 weeks when someone literally stole my jeans as I hung it to dry after a routine wash. Frustrated and not knowing what to do, I resigned to the fact that it was probably fated to be. Not long thereafter, I saw a junior from the same dorm block wearing what appeared to be my jeans. He was 2 years younger and with about the same built and height as I am, probably the jeans suited him perfectly. How can I ascertain that it was my pair of jeans? Can I just go and accuse him of stealing my jeans? I was engrossed with numerous questions that needed immediate answers. Eventually a couple of my classmates convinced me that it was perfectly fine to just confront the junior and get the answers.
One night after preparatory class, we just went over and asked him. The junior was too stunned to say a single word. I looked at the inside pocket and saw my initials and assigned laundry number still intact. The junior admitted taking the pair of jeans from the place it was hung earlier and his weak rationale that he thought it didn't belong to anybody quickly fell into amillion pieces. I gave him a stern look, cautioned him not to repeat his antics and just rushed back to my dorm, partly in anger and partly with relief. After I left, I was very sure my two classmates spent some time physically punishing the junior.
I was in no mood to join the session as it was never in myblood to hit someone physically even if someone had wronged me. Nor did I think any satisfaction could be derived from doing so. It only took a few minutes for the seniors in my dorm to discover the story. They immediately ordered the junior to come up to exercise their perceived rights to mete out another round of punishment. The school prefects probably had another session thereafter. In the end I never knew how many rounds of punishment the junior had to undergo for his little mischief or what time eventually he was allowed to go back to sleep. Everytime he saw me for the next one and a half years thereafter, he would lower his head, probably out of respect or simply that he remembered what he had done. Neither of us uttered a single word to each other. After I left school, we never crossed path with the junior again. Once in a while, his batchmates bumped into me and updated the whereabouts of their particular group and still there wasn't any direct reference to him.
I was practically disinterested to know more about him anyway. I did however related the story to my family members as one of my life experience, especially when I tried to instill positive values to my children, e.g 'don't ever steal, it just doesn't pay'. One funny thing about the experience. As I age over the years, my memory slowly began to fail me and I tend to forget a lot of my juniors from school but this particular junior never left my memory. I can even vividly describe his appearance to the minutest details as if I was standing right on front of him. On Thursday, 10th of May 2007, I received a text message from a junior whose office is near mine. It said, "Buniyamin Sulaiman died at 1.30 pm today. A car accident near Kertih". I probed and found out that the junior had failed to overtake another vehicle and had a head on collision with a 4WD of a tobacco company.
The 4WD driver was badly injured but the junior died on the spot. The area manager for the tobacco company based in Kuantan had been informedof the incident around 2.00 pm. He took note of the injured 4WD driver and the death of the other motorist. A couple of hours later, his friend told him that one of his schoolmates had died in a traffic accident somewhere near Kertih and coincidentally the collision was with a 4WD belonging to the company he works for. Imagine his shock upon realizing that the deceased inthe traffic accident reported to him a couple of hours earlier, was in fact his own batchmate from school.
I went back home feeling very disoriented. I asked my children whether they remember the story about my junior stealing my first pair of jeans way back during school days and the answer was a resounding yes. They just stood silent when I said the junior had died earlier that day in a traffic accident. In a state of self helplessness, words just don't appear. Expression typically says it all. The expression that night was one of being helplessly confused.
My junior, Buniyamin bin Sulaiman or Ben as he was more affectionately known, was buried in Kuala Terengganu the morning of Friday, 11th of May. I can only say that I had forgiven him a very long time ago. I wish somehow that we had met earlier just to catch up, even for a very short while but I realize that is no longer possible. I pray that his soul will always be protected by Allah. Al-Fatihah.

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