I went to a family event last 2 weeks.
I had a short conversation with this aunty (whom I did not know):
“Are you having your holiday?” she asked me.
“Yes,” Tipu sunat. I wanted to avoid all the questions.
Then she turned towards the person sitting next to her and said- not whispered, not talking in a low voice but said–
“She’s the one who didn’t finish at Labuan matriculation.”
On the way back, I asked my mum who that particular aunty was. I also told her that I didn’t like that aunty. My mum was perplexed. I explained to her and she said,
“Why do you need to dislike what she’d said? It’s true.”
Her comment bothered me. Of course it’s true. That aunty was only pointing out the obvious. What hurt me wasn’t that. What hurt me was that someone reminded me of it.
It was a stab at my old wound.
Matriculation was one of the darkest moments in my life and if I could, I do not want to be reminded of it ever again.
If anything, I am ashamed of myself. If anything, I am disappointed in myself.
When I told the story to Effa, she said;
“Aie..bukannya kitak keluar dari sia,”
Translation: You didn’t drop out of matriculation.
True, I didn’t. I quit matriculation because I got a better offer. Or at least, that’s what everyone thought. What I never told anyone was that that offer came precisely on the day I decided to quit matriculation.
That offer came on the day I skipped my first ever lecture and stayed in my room and cried to sleep instead.
It came on the day when my dad had already decided to pull me out of matriculation despite having to pay RM 1000 of fine and come to Labuan to meet the officers to take me home.
It came on the day I decided to apply to a private college.
It came on the day when I succumbed to my fears. The day when I admitted to myself that I was, like everyone, weak. The day when I felt myself crumbling down, eaten away by despair.
It came exactly at the right time, the right moment.
Why couldn’t I stand matriculation when my friends could cope perfectly well?
I had no reason for not coping. If I stayed in block C or D, maybe I could use that as an excuse. Not only were these buildings far from the classes, they often had no water supply. If I stayed at the fourth floor, maybe I could use it as an excuse. It was tiring to climb the stairs in the heat everyday. If I hated my classmates, I could use it as an excuse.
But no. I stayed in block A, where the water supply was never short. My room was on the first floor, near to the toilet. It was also next to the building that held the classes. Next to the cafeteria. While every room consisted of 4 students, mine only consisted of 2; me and a chinese girl and we got along really well. She once walked all the way to surau (surau was at the other end of campus, and our block, the other) to send my umbrella because it was raining and she feared I would get wet.
What reasons do I have? What excuses could I come up with?
Despite where I am now, I still couldn’t get rid of these feelings. No matter what I’ve achieved so far, they still couldn’t cancel out that 2-month period.
It was a battle I lost.