I was sitting in the car with Fatty when I got to thinking. Fatty always said that he didn’t miss his schooling days because he thinks he has it much better now – true in a way. Making your own money so you don’t have to get it from parents, no curfews, buying whatever you like without fear of getting scolded…
I get what he was saying. I started thinking about my own childhood. My high school years were actually pretty smooth sailing, but my first years of primary school were tough! Got a lot of school politics ok wtf.
Here’s a picture of me (left) at age 7 to illustrate (and get you in the right frame of mind wtf).
(person on the right is me, not my maid wtf. I was 11 there. What a difference 4 years make.)
So! Imagine the scene. The first day of Standard 1 (what Americans call first grade) in a public school.
Dozens of seven year olds milling around in brand new school uniforms with their anxious parents.
Mummy Ooi gets a shock because she realizes that EVERYONE is speaking Malay, a language which I have no experience in. For some reason, my kindergarten told her that us kids had twelve years of learning Malay ahead of us, and the teachers saw no reason to start teaching us Malay in kindergarten.
So while I was sitting there with no clue as to what was going on, Mummy Ooi had to go up to my teacher and ask if I could be seated up front next to the teacher’s desk and whether another kid could sit next to me and translate for me. FML. Damn loser la ok now when I think about it hahahahah.
But seven year old me was oblivious to all this.
I sat next to a little girl called Nabila, who turned to me and said, “Apa nama kamu?” (What is your name?)
I knew this phrase! I think my mom taught it to me the night before school wtf. I answered, “Nama saya Audrey.” (My name is Audrey)
And then kept quiet for the rest of the day because I didn’t understand anything else wtf.
But because Nabila could speak English and Malay, I became fast friends with her and another girl Rachel. I knew Rachel from kindergarten and I think her mom was nyonya so they spoke Malay at home. So both Rachel and Nabila were fluent in both languages and were bright and bubbly so they quickly became the most popular girls in class.
I was shy and quiet, and uncomprehending of everything around me wtf, so I idolized the both of them, especially Rachel. Nothing could have separated me from them.
Then one day I went to school and… neither Rachel or Nabila would talk to me.
They turned away when I spoke to them, and when recess came they grabbed their lunch boxes and ran off before I could follow them.
Up to this point I don’t think I had even talked to more than five people in class besides the both of them. But I couldn’t eat alone! So I screwed up my courage, picked up my lunch box, and went to sit with another group of girls. This group of girls looked at me seriously and said, “Rachel said not to friend you.” Then they moved away.
What was I to do? There were boys around, but eating with boys is worse than eating alone wtf. So I opened my packed food and ate by myself, all the while hoping nobody would notice I didn’t have friends.
Then I went home and cried in bed in the room I shared with Ooib.
Ooib who was lying on the other side of the room in darkness was a bit scared I think hahahah. He asked, “che che, do you want me to tell Mummy?”
And I sniffled and said, “okay.”
So Mummy Ooi came in and found out the extent of her daughter’s loserism. Then the next morning, she marched into school and met with the teacher.
After my mom left, the teacher clapped her hands and said, “OK from now on, everyone has to be friends with Audrey.”
And that was how I got my friends back wtf. Everyone started talking to me again, including Rachel and Nabila and I didn’t even mind that they were the ones who started this whole thing.
Many years later, Mummy Ooi told me the reason this happened was because I had apparently gotten first place in class and they were jealous.
And the irony was, I didn’t even know myself that I had gotten first place WTF. The teacher had announced it in class, and my Malay was too poor for me to even understand what she was saying. Seriously I don’t even know how I placed first when my Malay is so shitty and every class except English is taught in Malay.
Think Mummy Ooi only found out about my results when the teacher asked if she would be coming for prize presentation day hahahah.
So that was my Standard 1. I don’t remember much except this episode because it affected me so much.
Nabila transferred to another school two years later. I remained best friends with Rachel, but on a whim sometimes she’d still give me the silent treatment or tell people not to be friends with me. But I don’t think I took it as badly as the first time. The older I got, the more friends I managed to make besides her, and it didn’t matter so much what she did. Funnily, I never resented her for it. I think it was because she was so smart and funny and popular and everyone wanted to be her friend that I absolutely idolized her and never blamed her for anything.
As for her, she grew up too and outgrew her behavior. We stayed close friends up till high school actually before she moved to the US with her dad.
So yay happy ending!