There was only one Government Girls' School where you could do your 'A' Levels. I found myself at the pukka Raffles Girls' School, located at Anderson Road.
I felt very much like the poor country, or rather, kampung mouse in my classroom. There was an ongoing, subtle pecking order at work.
Firstly, to be acceptable you must have attended Raffles Girls' School at Secondary level and if you were also a pupil during Primary School, you were absolutely pedigree class. As for me, my humble lineage came from Crescent Girls' School, for a lower and middle class catchment area. My Pasir Panjang Primary School was but a very provincial kampung school from the then rural west coast of Singapore.
Secondly, your father had to be a so and so. It was not money that counted, that was just a good standby. Your old man should be a member of the upper echelon of the social order, the aristocracy of the influential and rich. It was a kind of secular feudalism - no need for titles like Rajas and Tengkus and Datuks. If you were of a certain breed, it was noticeable in your outfit and your airs.
We had a girl whose father was the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and another whose parent was the Secretary of the same outfit. Many of the proletarian newcomers sought the friendship of both girls, although the latter had already made up her mind that she had no intention of expanding her coterie.
I must admit to feeling like an 'ugly duckling'. You would like to make new friends but, hell, if I have to devalue myself just to be accepted as a member of 'The Group'... Like they used to say, 'bo chap' or "I couldn't care less".
But I did make one concession so as not to stand out like a sore thumb. When I started my first year at RGS, my ole mum, as practical as ever, had bought for me the cheap, rough cotton material for my school skirt. Its texture was almost similar to that used by the 'Samsui' women (Chinese women labourers who all wore the same blue and black 'uniform' ). And it was not the right shade of blue. It was more indigo blue than navy blue.
When it was being washed, the colours ran like the Nile and I am certain that after a few months the skirt would turn to pale indigo blue. It had to be starched otherwise it would not iron well. Of course, after ironing, the skirt would stand up as stiff as a ramrod and you ended up looking like you were wearing planks instead of a languid flowing skirt.
Each time before you sat down, you had to very carefully and sedately 'smooth' down the back of the skirt to keep the stiff pleats intact. If you failed to do so your rear would look like an unmade bed when you stood up. At 18, that was a terrible embarrassment to shoulder.
I could not remember how I plucked up the courage to ask my mother if I could please have the latest in-material, the more expensive polyester-tetoron that was crumple-free, drip-dry and did not require ironing. We compromised and she gave me what I wanted. But I could have only one skirt made of that coveted material.
That skirt beefed up my confidence no end at RGS. I made sure that on Wednesdays when I came home from school, I would immediately wash that precious garment, put it up to dry (it didn't take long) so that I could wear it again on Thursday morning. Sometimes it would remain slightly damp at the waistband but ... who cares? Style and pride took precedence over common sense and I stopped feeling like a Cinderella-poor kampung mouse for the rest of my A-Levels.
And here's what that nerd looked like in her polyester-tetoron skirt and her first non-homemade school blouse bought during a sale at Wassiamull.
And here are what those two years looked like with Miss Lim and Miss Cohen as our minders.
P.S. If any one mentioned in the previous posting choose to make any ha ha remarks they shall not taste my special Fruit Cream Salad forever and ever.