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Sakmongkol ak 47

Friday 12 June 2009

The Life and Times of Dato Mokhtar bin Dato Sir Mahmud.


Cikgu Salleh and Chingaru Singh.

Remember Cikgu Salleh Ahmad? He was the one famous for his Salleh Twister? Yes, the Cikgu who would pinch the most vulnerable part of your tummy and apply the twisting motion? While you are going through the excruciating pain, he would be facing the class, grinning sending a message-boys, this is what I do to you if you prank on me. The spectacle of a sadistic teacher applying his trade on his young pupil at the receiving end must have petrified the boys.

Well, he was among the few teachers who had a car in the 1940's. He had a very close friend who was a teacher at the nearby Clifford School. Now, Clifford School has always rivalled MCKK in many things back then. So our boys did not understand why Cikgu Salleh was very friendly with one Chingaru Singh, a teacher from the rival Clifford school. The ethos of rivalry demands one to observe strict loyalty to one's school. An adversarial posture towards other schools is a must and must be observed by students and as the students thought, also by teachers.

Cikgu Salleh would not be restrained by these pubescent rivalries. After school hours, Cikgu Salleh would drive over to the Clifford School Grounds to fetch Chingaru Singh. They would later drive over to one of the watering holes in Kuala Kangsar then.

This Chingaru Singh was very proficient in the Malay language. He spoke like a Malay and can even utter Astaghafirullah. The Punjabis in Malaysia have the uncanny ability to master Bahasa Malaysia and speak the language spoken like a Malay! Kuala Kangsar had a small community of Sikhs in those days. Dato Mokhtar remembered them as a much disciplined lot, fair skinned with piercing blue eyes. Of course, he had another reason to remember the Sikh community then. It came in the form of one Theresa Kaur.

Bukit Chandan.

From the college, if the boys wanted to take a short cut to Bukit Chandan, they would have to pass by the Clifford School grounds. They would always be the receiving end of taunts and jeers by the Cliffordians. College boys were known as budak kawah- referring of course to the fact that college boys had to eat mass produced food, cooked in the kawah style. As most Cliffordians stayed at homes, they took home cooked meals individually prepared.

What's so special about Bukit Chandan? It was just a housing area. In those days in the 1940's through 1950's, houses lined the road to Bukit Chandan. There was a particular appeal about Bukit Chandan that drew MCKK boys like moths to light. As it was a housing area, there were bound to be families staying there and where there were families there were- GIRLS.

Dato Mokhtar remembered one Punjabi who lived in Bukit Chandan. Unfortunately Dato Mokhtar could not remember the Punjabi man's name. Nevertheless, the name of his beautiful daughter, Theresa Kaur, is forever etched in Mokhtar's mind. Theresa Kaur went to the Methodist Girls School in Kuala Kangsar .To Dato Mokhtar and of course to the others, Theresa was the belle of Bukit Chandan. There was also another beauty who lived in Bukit Chandan. She was the daughter of the boys' religious teacher- Haji Ghazali. But as she is the daughter of their own religious teacher none dared to get close to her.

As the extrovert one in his group, Dato Mokhtar was assigned to devise a plan to entice Theresa Kaur and some of the other lasses to meet up with the MCKK brat pack. Mokhtar quickly took up the 'assignment' with eagerness and set about to lay the plan.

As luck would have it, just after the war, his eldest brother, Ghazali bin Dato Mahmud,was posted to Kuala Kangsar as the DADO- Deputy Assistant District Officer. This position came together with a residence located just at the periphery of the College gates. Dato Mokhtar had a plan.

He went over to discuss with his elder brother and sister in law, asking permission to have a birthday party. What birthday party asked the elder brother? I though your birthday was already passed? With a twinkle in the eye, Dato Mokhtar stated in a straight-faced manner- It is a 'party' to invite some girls over. Being the sporting adults they were, the brother and sister in law allowed themselves to be keenly persuaded by the resourceful Dato Mokhtar. Dato Mokhtar eventually got their consent and of course their sporting willingness to play along.

On a particular Friday morning (back then, Friday was not a school day for MCKK) Dato Mokhtar put on his best clothes to make a trip to Ipoh. Dato Mokhtar remembered he was dressed in the all white uniform (introduced by Headmaster Luke)- pressed white shirt and white long pants. His 'plan' was ready to be executed.

At an appointed time, Dato Mokhtar made his way out of the College grounds and proceeded to walk the route where he knew his quarry would also be walking. On a Friday, it was a school day for MGS Kuala Kangsar. And true enough, from a distance, he spotted the beautiful Theresa Kaur making her way to her school.

As he approached her, Dato Mokhar gave his best hello and when Theresa responded, quickly sized the opportunity. By the way- Theresa, he said, I am having my birthday party this weekend. I thought you may want to come and I shall be exceedingly pleased if you can come. And of course, you can bring some of your other friends along. Some of my friends from the College will also be there. I am sure we'll have a swell time.

Dato Mokhtar must have been on cloud nine, when Theresa said, she would be pleased to.

That weekend, they had a most wonderful 'birthday' party. Not only did Theresa come along with some other girl friends, they brought presents too for the 'birthday' boy. The brother and sister in law played the perfect sporting hosts. There was ample food and drinks to go around. The horrors of the occupation and the tragedy of a war were forgotten on that day.


Abdul Rahim Aki,  15 June 2009 at 00:16  

I have followed your commentary about Dato' Mokhtar with much interest and fond memories of my time in MCKK and KK an unforgetable experience that we all share. Dato Mokhtar was my senior but in a boarding school,especially in MCKK, everyone knows everyone else. In his case, I also know his brother Dato Mustapha, Cambridge (Law) and former Ambassador and accomplished Artist! And he is now my neighbour in KL and we occasionally run into one another and have a chat. The story you relate about a certain Punjabi beauty, Theresa Kaur, sounds familiar but I believe the lady you refered to as having piercing blue eyes and in my own recollection, a voluptious body, was Inder Kaur and not Theresa Kaur who was an ouitstannding beauty and the toast of MCKK boys and also Clifford boys. She went to study in Adelaide where she met a Singh who graduated as a doctor and they got married. On returning to Malaysia, he practiced in KL and played cricket for Selangor Club and the couple was the centre of attarction at social events and dances at the Club. Unfotunately, for some unknown reasons, Inder Kaur died and it was rumoured that she committed suicide - what a sad ending for a person who was beautiful until the end. KK had other Kaurs during my time and all came from the small Punjabi family in KK but none could rival Inder Kaur. My friend who was a Prefect with me at King's Pavillion, where we enjoyed some degree of freedom compared to life in the Big School even though you were a Prefect, befriended a Kaur from MGS but it was short lived as he went to UK to pursue his university studies in Engineering. KP provided a relief from the strict discipline regime at Big School and during my time as a Prefect at KP, the Housemaster was Mr Anthony Burgess the well writer (Time for a Tiger, Malaysian Trilogy etc) whose real name was Mr Wilson. He was my English teacher in Form V and had the previledge of being taught, so also my classmates, by a writer who was eventually acclaimed as one of the greatest writers in the English language. He was also musical and played the piano and this musical talent was reflected in most of his writings. He of course drank heavily together with his wife and occasionally joined by expatriate planter and police officer for noisy drinking sessions upstairs in the Housemaster's quarters! His lifestyle was disapproved by the Headmaster and the Royal Palace which caused his downfall and he was transferred to the Teacher's College in Kota Bharu Kelantan. While in Kelantan, he produced his second book called "Bed in the East".He eventually left Malaya to continue his writing the UK when he produced his greatest works. He died in Monte Carlo. Back to Dato Mustapha, he served in the Foreign Service until retirement and he had an interesting first posting as First Secretary in the Malaysian Embassy in Paris. As an artist, there was no better place and environment to be in and he found an apartment on the Isle St Louis, a fashionable residence on an island on the Seine close to the Notre Dame where the rich and the famous lived and continue to live. I recall his apartment was located close to the Aga Khan's and not far from Sophia Loren's apartment!So Dato Mustapha lived well as a diplomat in a most enchanting city. I have strayed quite a bit from the subject of Dato Mokhtar but since you have written quite a bit about him, I feel that what I have written will also be interesting to readers who follow your site. I cannot end this short commentary without reference to Cikgu Salleh Ahmad who was also my teacher to whom I am greatly indebted. However, I cannot recall having suffered from his "Twister" treatment.

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