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May. 19th, 2003

Went to get my SPM cert today. Yeah, five years after I sat for it. Took the train from college to Jamek Mosque, then boarded the interchange for Plaza Rakyat. I could've just walked from Jamek Mosque. In fact, I could've just walked from my college to Jamek Mosque. In fact, if I were hardworking enough, I could've walked from my college to my old high school. Walking around in 37C sunlight is crazy. If I weren't so young, I might've come home in tiny ashen pieces. Plaza Rakyat station has become significantly more depressing since I last stopped there. It's still deeply shadowed, and it's still mostly construction outside. Now, the passage that leads out smells sewery too.

Plaza Rakyat is attached to Pudu Raya, KL's main bus terminal. It still smells like smog. The pavement outside the thing no longer smells of piss, and they managed to clear out the trash too. Something I did notice, most of the area's distinctly cleaner now. I guess that's a good thing. Downtown used to be very, very downtown when I studied there. SM Stella Maris is still a little island of peace in all that. Once you're in the cul-de-sac that houses the main buildings, you tend to forget it's just down the road from Chinatown. I didn't know today was Foundation Day at the school. Saw lots of old teachers who'd left since I did as a result. They've open a Pastoral Center next door, and some sort of Christian media center on the other end. St. Anthony's, on the other hand, was all grilled out. I found out later that the pastor who was assigned there had only just come back from an extended trip. When I studied at the school, I remember hearing the bell go off in the mornings for morning mass. I was never allowed in the church, or maybe it was because I never had the guts to ask anyone if I could look around, and I've often wondered if I shouldn't have tried. It's a pretty church. When I was in high school, I masqueraded as a Muslim student, so I was sort of discouraged from entering churches. I have been in churches before, the usual funerals and weddings, but I just never made it inside St. Anthony's.

The teachers still remember me as the 'girl who fell off the balcony. You remember, we had to rush her to the hospital (across the street).' The last batch of students I might've recognized left last year. The new students stared at me quite hard, and they're much more polite than my batch ever was. Poking my head into the staff's room just left me to the mercy of every teacher who remembered my name. I did get to meet my old class teacher though, who is a lovely soul, and we sat down and talked for a while. I went to her wedding after I graduated. Didn't know her brother-in-law was one of the teaching Brothers on staff. Also visited the library. It still has so many good old books. They've added some really curious histories of Russia and democracy to the mix too. Managed to pick out The Useless Sex, which had this absolutely ridiculous (but probably true) chapter on Malaysian matriachies in rural Negeri Sembilan (state directly north of mine). The book was published in 1961 though, so I'm guessing things have changed a lot since then, although Negeri Sembilan's traditional system is still matriachal. If what Ms. Fallaci reported was true, there are shocking ideas of feminism within Malay society that should really be propagated more often. Men are underlings! We own the land! Yeah!

Did I mention I might be the very last student from my class to graduate from college? I'm certain there are students who did law and marine biology who'd graduated before I hit my last (this) semester. It is odd. I told my ex-class teacher I was taking a second degree in Creative Writing. She said, go for it. All the teachers said I looked exactly the same. I told them I never grew at all. Friends might add I never grew up at all. Stella Maris still has too many stairways. I never reached the auditorium, to actually see where I fell, nor did I visit my old classes. It has too many bad memories. But the library felt good, and talking to teachers meant I kept finding excuses to run away, it wasn't a bad trip.



I also have my SPM cert now. It proves I'm an average student with terrible grades for all 9 subjects except English. I hated taking the SPM, and studying for it. I didn't need Biology, Physics, Chemistry or Islamic Studies to get into Computer Science. I probably won't need them to get into Creative Writing. But I do need the Cert to prove I've taken this thing, and also show off where SPM grades coincide with GCE 'Ordinary Passes'. Damned stupid paper chase. I wave my finger at it now.