Had the desks and chairs of primary schools always been so small?

Tried to secure a primary school in Semenyih for the KURUS shoot yesterday.


Kampung Baru Semenyih Primary School


I don't think I've ever stepped into a primary school ever since my little sister started secondary school, and that's six years ago.

As Joanne the Line Producer went to negotiate with the principal, Ming Jin and I wandered off to survey the location, snapping photos.

The SKJ (C) Kampung Baru Semenyih made me feel nostalgic. Eleven years had passed since I left primary school, nearly half of my lifetime. Unlike my own primary school, which, thanks to the donations of rich parents, was constantly in the midst of renovating and constructing new buildings, this place seemed to exist in a different time period, its purity untainted.

The canteen looked like the canteen of my old primary school, but older and more decrepit.

School canteen


I can't remember how I've spent my recess time anymore, just fragmented scenes. I think I preferred bringing sandwiches prepared by my maid, because the food sold in canteen were miserably bad (or unhealthy?). Noodles with tasteless soup, chicken rice with teeny weeny strips of chicken, jelly squeezed out of plastic tubes, packets of Twisties.

It took too long to finish a bowl of noocles or a plate of rice compared to sandwiches, and the bell usually rang too soon. I could finish my sandwiches in mere minutes (and would be most delighted if they were sandwiches with eggs and cheese) just so I had more time to head to the fields to take a walk, or hang out with friends. A little free time before the dreaded bell asking us to return to our classes.

The boy leaving the basketball court

I noticed how tiny the desks and chairs were in the classrooms. Had they always been so small? Were class furnitures in secondary school any bigger than the ones in primary school?

Or perhaps all these while, during my years in primary and secondary school, I've always seated behind these tiny desks, on the flimsy little chairs.

How weird that school life had drifted so far away, as if they happened in another life. How different was I five years ago compared to the me of now?

I used to like primary school reunions when I was in secondary school, because they let me reconnect to a more carefree past devoid of complicated responsibilities and problems. I even organized a few of these in my own house, just so the laughters that filled the air would sound just like the ones in the afternoon of '96.

A boy leaving his class


Yet now, secondary school reunions, or bumping into people whom I've not kept in touch with from secondary school, elicit in me a feeling of curiosity mixed with discomfort. Curious to know what five years had done to them.

But discomfort because, in their minds, the me who stood before them am no different from the me 5 years ago. Just a person from their past, reemerging in their lives again for a brief moment, triggering memories, reminding yesteryears, like a historical artifact in a museum.