My sister lent me her Autograph Books from 1953 and 1954. How she managed to conserve hers through all these years is beyond my ken. I have absolutely no idea what I did to mine. But thank goodness I have hers to savour. Thank you, Nah.
In those good old days we used to nag our parents to get us these autograph books so that at the end of each school year we could pursue our friends and teachers and relatives to fill them up with little poems and homilies - especially to let us know how well we are liked and loved and remembered. How quaint and innocent.
However they remind us of how we were schooled, how we regarded one another, how we valued our teachers and their kind regards for us. There were no Teacher's Day, no Valentine's Day, no need for presents and roses and cards. But in these little books, we have a treasure of endearing sentiments, affection, wisdom and amiability expressed very simply, in words. We may laugh at lines like :
In the middle of the ocean,
There lies a rock.
On it were written,
Forget me not
but they meant a lot to us. And remember, we have lots more in our little book of pomes to write for our friends.
But for Nah, someone wrote a very, very special poem for her, called Chermin Maznah by a good friend of Abah, Pakcik Agus, the draughtsman at the School of Health, Nee Soon, Singapore. He came from Sumatra, and lived with his wife at a kampung off the Mandai Road. I recall him as being a kind, quiet man, always with a smile on his face. Here is what he wrote for my very, very privileged sister.
This was what Maznah asked for on the first page of her Autograph Book.
And here are Pakcik Agus on the left, Corporal Jamaludin in the middle and Abah on the right - as to when, probably late 50s (?).
And here's our dear Maznah, now mother of 4 great kids and Tok Wan to 9 lovely grandchildren, and of course wife to the indomitable Abang Long Harun.
Thank you Nah, for letting me enjoy and share your book. Loads more treasures to show but later.