From an Old Convent Girl
Whenever I mention to some of my friends that I was going back to my old secondary school, I get asked, "Why?" This is for 2 different reasons:
"Why on earth are you going back to that place where we were screamed at by all these old, wrinkled teachers, forced to endure dozens of boring masses, and all kinds of silly restrictions on uniforms, were subjected to the most draconian of rules, iron-handedly enforced by a fire-breathing gorgon of a discipline mistress?"
ok, this one comes mainly from the old girls, and is a little embellished under my hands.
"Why are you going back? What's the point?"
What's the point? That's a better question. And one that some readers may ask, since myself and a bunch of other old convent girls recently went back to the Open House for our alma mater, CHIJ Toa Payoh. [anonymity be damned. I'm proud of my school and not afraid to show it]
Perhaps on one hand, it's the school, physically and spiritually. After all, like the old Madonna song went, this used to be my playground. [click on link for the sentiments behind it] This was where I studied, I played, learned to grow old and not like it, and where I made some of the friends that I still have till today, a kind of feat, considering how all our paths have diverged.
Does erasing the school erase the memories? Of course it does not. But what it does is to rob you of the chance of ever reliving those moments. Of being able to pretend, once again, that you were that small, that innocent, that naive. It robs you of the chance to close your common sense telling you otherwise, and pretend that you are once again young and small, and that there are grownups around ready to protect you from outside.
152 years on and counting
Maybe it's the people. It's the people who you loved, hated, made friends with only to forget, till years later on, you met in the streets and realised you two never changed that much anyway. Because the primary and secondary schools were affiliated, and because they were in the same compound, many of us took it for granted that we were going to go to IJ secondary anyway, without question. And you know what? Many of us did.
Some of my friends I've known since I was in Primary school, which is hell long when you're at my age. These are the friends who've seen everything there is to see about me, who know my past, who are still with me in the present, and who, regardless of all that, are still willing to stick by me in the future to come. [thanks guys, if you're reading this] Together, as a group, we've been through just about every human crisis you could imagine, from breakups to deaths. But at the same time, we also shared so much of the good stuff, it made it all worthwhile.
How can you forget a place where you met people like that?
And above all, maybe it's the fact that that place was my past. How do you ever forget your past? [short of physical trauma and injury, anyway] You can try to run, you can put it out of your mind, but how do you forget? You just can't.
And you shouldn't. Because it was your past that made you the person you were today. It was because of the choices you made in your past that, for better or worse, you have turned out to be the person you are today.
Even if you are the person who took this direction in order to run from something in your past, would you be running in this direction if you had not experienced whatever it is you did in your past?
So for all it's worth, this is what my school really is to me: