Saturday, February 19, 2005

Goodbye to a slice of childhood


The front of the kindergarten, in the past the Esmeralda picture was that of Snow White, seems that is not the only thing that changes. St. Thomas Kindergarten, Kuantan, 2004.

I don’t remember much about my younger self, just bits and pieces, teasing memories that resides at the edge of clarity yet seem so aloft. Some people could recall clearly all the details of their youth, the sights they saw, the experiences they went through, the smell, the sensation and mayhap even feelings for every firsts they achieved like the taste of a newborn have of their first ice cream cone. This is not the case for me, fragments are all I have, looking through a photo of me when I was under 7 seems so alien; there was my old house yet it was so different, standing by the edge of a lush overgrown shrubbery where now only housing estates exist; seeing myself holding a favourite toy and remembering how it felt like yet can’t remember that I ever had it or faces, mum, dad, aunts, uncles and cousins familiar yet so different. Time does change so many things, erasing so many that are familiar and turning it into the something so alien. Changes and takes are the only two inevitable constant in this world and so we must face the reality of it.

It is a sad bid that I had to bid farewell to my former kindergarten when I went back. I have scant recalling of the place, a haze where I do remember walking down the hallowed halls, feeling the wooden frame of the building, the playground (no matter how small it was) and the old tree that yet still stands in the front of the courtyard. Of the people and friends that I had, sadly they too are a distant thing of the past, I can’t remember a single teacher’s name nor any acquaintances, the only solid recollection and evidence that there were other souls about me is a photo taken for my ‘graduation’ from kindergarten, hats and cloaks and pseudo cert in all. The most vivid memory of the place happens to be the time I was digging in the flower box, I stumbled onto a giant larva of an insect buried in the sand. I remember poking it with a twig and then proceeded to unearth it (don’t try to comprehend the workings of a kid’s mind) and then frightened the girls with it.

Now all that is left of the St. Thomas Kindergarten is a levelled ground, a precursor to the new church community center that will rise from the ashes and usher in a hint of modernity from the humble wooden structure that stood before it. In a sense it is giving way to something better, something that will benefit a whole lot more of the society around it than just any old kindergarten. In time the St. Thomas Kindergarten will rise again, snugly accomodated in a section of the new building, carrying out its mission anew of education. Maybe it was pure nostalgia that drew me back, to have one last look at the place that eludes my memories yet still conjures up a feeling that I can’t explain. Maybe seeing it for one last time was a journey of sort for me, to take a snapshot in my heart and mind before the physical essence of the place is forever erased from the face of the earth, so that no matter what, there will remain a standing recollection and memory buried deep in my mind, that one day I may retell my children and my children’s children about a little place by the field where there once stood a kindergarten. Goodbye it's been nice while it lasted.

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