Here is another instalment from my forthcoming The Life And Times Of Dato Mokhtar Bin Sir Mahmud.
Dato Mokhtar was back in MCKK in 1946. It was just after the war. At the end of 1941, his schooling days were abruptly interupted by the war. He was a member of the Ahmad House. The Perak boys would usually be in Idris House. There were only 4 houses. The Headmaster then was Mr Carey. He was succeeded by KD Luke who was to become the headmaster during the event which I am about to tell you shortly.
After term break or school holidays, he made it a point to come back a day earlier. At that time, his father Dato Mahmud was DO of Tapah. It is not far away from Kuala Kangsar.
As to the reason for coming back a day earlier, there was a method to this absurdity. Why would anyone want to cut short his holidays? For Mokhtar it was all the more incredulous given the fact that his home was probably a 2 or 3 hour train ride?
You see, this is a trick that he discovered. If you come back earlier, you can secure yourself the best bed and location in the hostel. It was a first come first served thing and finders' keepers. Invariably he would choose a bed near the door where it was airy. It also permitted easy egress and ingress. The boys who came back late would have to make do with less desirable choices.
Whenever the MCKK boys come back from holidays or term breaks, the mood would be sombre. Now I have never set foot in MCKK- but from the recollection of Dato Mokhtar, the mood of the students coming back from their kampongs or hometown would immediately turn forlorn once Gunung Berapit came within sights. It was as though, their hearts were saying in unison- boys we are back in prison.
Dinner on the first night after holidays reinforced the boys' homesickness. The dining hall would be exceedingly quiet. One could almost hear a pin drop. The same could be told of the mood at the High Table. Once the boys got over the initial pangs of homesickness, the dining hall would resume its normal voluble din carrying the sounds of fork and spoons and the endless chatter of spirited boys.
Just after the war, Dato Mahmud entered MCKK as a form three student. His classmates counted HRH Tuanku Sultan of Pahang, the late Tan Sri Azmi Kamarudin, Y.M Engku Tan Sri Dato' Sri Ibrahim Engku Ngah( keeper of the Royal seal), Dato Wan Nik a former chairman of Ketengah( Terengganu) and one Tengku Yaakob bin Tengku Salleh(deceased).
It is the story involving the late Tengku Yaakob ( a scion of the Kelantan Royal Family) and this Dato Wan Nik who hailed from Terengganu that we now feel worth retelling. It was an event that earned the late Tengku Yaakob (God Bless his soul) the notoriety of the moniker 'MU JAHAK'( pronounced in Kelantan slang). From then on,Tengku Yaakob would always be called MU JAHAK and never Ku Yaakob anymore. The event which I am about to narrate happened sometime in 1949 or 1950.
Tengku Yaakob came from Kelantan. Dato Mokhtar recalled that he married one of the princesses of the then Sultan of Kelantan. (He stands corrected on this). Dato Wan Nik came from Terengganu. Since time immemorial, relations between Kelantanese and Terengganuans were never cordial. Indeed they often degenerated into open hostilities.
Naturally, the antipathy must be carried through by boys claiming to be true blooded sons of their states. During this particular occasion, none carried the burden of this irrational ill feeling more than Wan Nik of Terengganu and Tengku Yaakob of Kelantan.
At the hostel, 9 pm would be lights out for everyone. Except for seniors such as Dato Mokhtar. Seniors were allowed to stay up beyond 9pm.
One particular night, Mokhtar was still up when he heard a commotion coming out from downstairs of the hostel. Fearing that a burglar or burglars have entered their hostel he went out to investigate.
He came upon a group of bare-chested boys who were excited about something that had happened. All these boys were members of Tengku Yaakob of Kelantan's band of brothers. Mokhtar asked the boys what had happened to which the boys answered nothing.
Not satisfied, Mokhtar set out to discover what had taken place.
Wan Nik of Terengganu was a prefect. Tengku Yaakob of Kelantan seemed to bear the brunt of the simmering hostilities between Kelantanese and Terengganuans. He would always be made to suffer a multitude of punishable offences. And guess who was the prefect who would pounce him? It was none other than Wan Nik of Terengganu.
The Tengku from Kelantan must have suffered immeasurably and thus set out to mete out a punishment of his own to this Wan Nik. One night, when lights were out and deciding that Nik must have gone to sleep, Tengku Yaakob went out to dispense with his version of justice.
He went into Nik's dormitory, lifted up the mosquito net, pulled away the blanket over Nik and gave him a walloping!
The horrified recipient of the punches yelped out cries and seeing that the perpetrator of this invasion at this ungodly hour was Tengku Yaakob- cried out; Yaakob !Gapo mu buat aku gini ?
Tengku Yaakob gave only this answer...MU JAHAK!
Apparently as insurance Tengku Yaakob had rallied a group of his followers to stand guard just in case. If Wan Nik of Terengganu was foolish to fight back, his gang would be upon the hapless Terengganu boy in two shakes of a lion's whiskers. Prudence was the better part of valour- Wan Nik to his credit did not put up any fight.
From that day onwards- whenever the MCKK boys walked past Tengku Yaakob, the name ' Mu Jahak' would be called out.
This Wan Nik turned out to a sort of rebel without a cause. One day, the principal (KD Luke) and MCKK became the object of a scandal which became a hot topic among the local community. Someone from the College wrote to the vernacular newspaper complaining of the lousy food of the hostel. The College immediately carried out an investigation as to the author of the letter. It turned out that Wan Nik was the author. His cover was blown away because he had entrusted the sending of the letter to a junior boy. The boy had admitted to the principal the identity of the author.
Wan Nik was hauled up by the principal and received his befitting punishment. He was striped of the prefect's post. Upon receiving his punishment, Wan Nik poignantly said- Sir I feel like committing suicide. The headmaster(KD Luke) retorted- young man, you have done enough trouble for me. Please do not add to my headaches.
I hope Dato Wan Nik would not find this narration of something from the past offensive. My humblest apologies in advance to Dato Wan Nik. They don't make boys of sterner stuff anymore Dato.
Note: I have updated some facts regarding this story when I reviewed it together with Dato Mokhtar himself.