June 1953, the historic month of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, saw the birth of the school’s first newspaper. It was put together from sheets mimeographed on both sides and stapled together. Tucked in the inner pages of the first issue of the VI Voice was a short story by “The VI Columnist”. The crudely typed text related the adventures of a roly poly boy named Ah Fatt on his first day at school, the VI, no less.
In a Malayan population that only knew of fictional heroes and villains created half a world away, this struck a chord deep inside the Victorian psyche. VI boys and girls in every corner of the school laughed at and readily identified with the foibles of our fat hero. The anonymous author was a Post-School Certificate science student, Tay Chong Hai. This scion of the large Tay family of Kuala Lumpur that had sent many of its sons to the V.I. loved poetry and even had his works published in the Singapore Standard and Young Malayans. He was the literary editor of the new VI Voice and, indeed, one of his poems was juxtaposed beside his Ah Fatt story.
The school populace simply could not get enough of Ah Fatt and waited eagerly for more in the next issue. Alas, there was to be none. The birth of the VI Voice hadn’t been that auspicious. Critics had asserted that the editor, Zain Azraai, was also the School Captain, thereby creating a conflict of interest. Chong Hai resigned his post on principle and went on to bring about the birth of yet VI another publication, the Scientific Victorian, about two months later. Here he was the all powerful editor and while his inaugural issue carried reports on the activities of the Science and Maths Society as well as scientific articles penned by its members, Chong Hai slipped in a light-hearted anonymous contribution. It was an Ah Fatt story, again by “VI Columnist”. It related Ah Fatt’s madcap adventures in the V.I. science laboratory with predictable results. The only snag was that it never saw the light of day even though the magazine itself was sold and distributed in the VI and many Selangor schools. The Ah Fatt story had been ordered to be ripped out from every issue by the Headmaster Mr G P Dartford before it could be sold. The reason? Chong Hai’s inadvertent use of the word “under” instead of “behind” in the very last sentence of the text. Now fifty-five years after that event, Chong Hai has kindly made the original text available.
By September 1953, Chong Hai had commenced his studies at the Medical School in Singapore. Then, a surprise treat for Victorians – Ah Fatt was back in the VI Voice! By then the newspaper was helmed by a different editorial team, for Zain Azraai himself had left for England to pursue his law studies. The story dealt with the fat boy’s adventures at the VI sports. The unidentified author also identified himself as “The VI Columnist.”
The following month, in a historic change, the VI Voice was renamed The Seladang in a minor coup that brought in yet another editorial team. The new publication ran a short story mysteriously entitled “Chong Fatt is Missing” by “The Seladang Columnist.” Was this Ah Fatt? If it was, why use the name Chong Fatt? If it wasn’t, why the allusions to Ah Fatt, for example, in the very first sentence: “A week after the last issue of the V.I. Voice was published, it was rumoured that Chong Fatt was missing and could not be traced by his form-master…” Worse, the story was dark and laboured tastelessly for laughs and ended shockingly with Chong Fatt/Ah Fatt(?) dying. Then again he might not have, as this is not really Ah Fatt. The motive behind running this story is puzzling. One prefers not to think that Ah Fatt died.
Skip another three years and Ah Fatt returned in a light-hearted story by Sixth Former Ooi Boon Teck, who obviously had followed the Ah Fatt saga as a Third Former. Well, his piece was not exactly about Ah Fatt but Ah Fatt’s younger brother, Ah Fei, who evidently resembled his illustrious brother down to the last ounce of adipose tissue. Ah Fei was also a Victorian (naturally). Fast forward eleven years. As advisory teacher, I persuaded the editorial board of the 1967 Seladang to revive Ah Fatt. Over the course of the year the school newspaper published three anonymously written Ah Fatt stories, which are reproduced below. I invited Ho Sui-Jon, a V.I. alumnus of the twenty-first century, to illustrate this collection of stories. I am sure you will agree that Sui-Jon's artistic talents are truly amazing.
Tay Chong Hai, the creator of Ah Fatt, is today a renowned Singapore physician after whom a skin condition – Tay’s Syndrome – is named. He is also dubbed the Father of Rheumatology in Singapore medical circles. He would be proud to know that he remains the father of Ah Fatt back in his old school
1. AH FATT COMES TO THE VICTORIA INSTITUTION
One Monday morning at about 7.30 a.m. a fat, stupid-looking boy by the name of Ah Fatt is cycling on his bone-shaker bicycle along Shaw Road where the famous palace for crooks and its twin brother, the famous V.I., are situated. Miles away, you may hear the fifty sharps and flats uttered by his old cycle which should deserve a place in our K.L. National Museum. Surely much of his energy is wasted since mechanical energy has been converted into sound. But never mind, fatty Fatt has much energy in store to spare.
By the way, who is this Fatty? I have never seen him in our school before? What’s he up to? Well, here is the story.
Ah Fatt was an ex-student of a second-rate school before he came to the capital of the Federation. He has forgotten his own surname. Probably it is Chan or Tan or Wan, but he does not know which one is his because his mother married three times before she died when he was young. He failed to pass his sixth standard exam in …. and was kicked out. But Ah Fatt, like every good Malayan, hopes to become a good doctor so that he will reap a lot of money and a good name too. But alas, he must study in order to achieve his ambition. Well, he cleverly adopts the common tactic of planting himself into a higher standard in a new school every year. Thus he can promote himself into Senior. Well, this practice may be good in the ulus, where he can go to any schools through the headmasters’ back door but not, of course, in this world renowned and learned school, the V.I.
But Ah Fatt is adamant. In spite of the overwhelming odds against him, he still maintains that he is suitable for Standard 7 but also Standard 8, because you must take into consideration that he was third boy in his former school and is undoubtedly a brilliant chap. Being the third boy in a class is certainly very good but how many boys are there in the class? Ah Fatt proudly answers that it had about five boys and adds assuringly that not only he but also the first boy failed in the examination.
This matter is certainly very difficult for the H.M. of the school to handle. The Education Department’s advice is sought and an extraordinary meeting of the staff is held is held to investigate the matter. Ah Fatt becomes famous overnight and soon he finds his name splashing all over the newspapers. Lucky Ah Fatt! He is admitted at last – to the lowest class in Standard 6. This morning, he is wanted by the principal for an interview. His new adventure is now on.
When he enters the V.I. gate he notices a sign board saying that the road is one way only, but to his amazement he sees a car speeding along the narrow road in the opposite direction and, in doing so, almost knocks a young cyclist down. Recovering himself, Ah Fatt cannot but take a second look at the sign board to ascertain that his eyes do not deceive him. He is right. But what can he do? It takes him a great deal of exertion and muscular work in order to climb the steep road and to encircle the building before he can arrive at the cycle-park. This route is obviously a long cut; even a dope like Ah fatt knows that. He wonders what the big idea like this is. Can it be the fact that everyone who enters the V.I. should inspect its building by going around it before he leaves?
After he has planted his bicycle among a host of other bicycles, he cleverly succeeds in cheating the bicycle-shed woman of the five cents fee as other boys and girls often do. As he walks along the side of the hall, he encounters a well-dressed man, with coat and tie on, bulging and looking big. Ah Fatt thinks this must be a V.I. master, so he smiles at the magnificently dressed man and greets him with a “Good morning sir,” thinking all the time he will win the master’s favour. The prefect, as it really is, does not hear him for his mind is wool-gathering in heaven. Disappointed, Ah Fatt moves on.
“My gosh!” cries Ah Fatt to himself when he sights a master walking by. “Why, the V.I. has big students, too.” What makes him declare this I do not know. Perhaps the masters, unlike the prefects, aren’t dignified or perhaps the boys do not pay enough respect to them so as to distinguish them from their pupils.
Anyway Ah Fatt ascends the stairs and goes to the office. He is told that the H.M. is busy and that he has to wait for a while.
While on the verandah waiting for his turn, he takes the opportunity to glance around the building.
A red light gleams high above the headmaster’s office. Boys hurry to and fro. Soon he hears the electric bell’s ring and there is a general buzzing. Pupils rush into their classes and there seems to be chaotic confusion everywhere. Again the electric bell rings and the poor ulu boy from the jungles of Kelantan is greatly puzzled.
He looks at his watch. It is 7.45 but the clock on the wall shows 7.30 and that on the hall 7.50 while the clocks on the tower tell a different tale. Now, by which clock is the V.I. going? Ah Fatt cannot make head or tale of it.
A disorderly gang of students all armed with science books and huge laboratory books passes him, laughing and talking loudly all the time. This sight is familiar to Ah Fatt who compares the students who are obviously going to the labs with the uncouth farmers going to work. Then a hush falls upon them and all eyes turn towards a certain direction. Naturally Ah Fatt follows suit and to his delight and surprise he catches sight of a group of Post Senior girls advancing from the other side. No wonder the boys’ eyes follow the bevy of girls as they go.
Ah Fatt is so absorbed by the presence of these girls that he is deaf to the summon behind him from the office. However, he recovers and he goes into the H.M.’s office for the interview.
2. AH FATT JOINS THE P.S.C. CLASS
How Ah Fatt manages to sneak into the V.I.P.S.C. is indeed a seven day wonder … nay, it is a mystic problem so complex in formation and structure that it cannot be solved by the application of the compound laws nor can it be proved by quadratic equations or even by probability curves. Many hypotheses regarding this supernatural phenomenon are formulated and propounded but, one by one, they are shattered and discarded before they develop into theories. Until this day it remains a top-secret hush-hush matter defying even the V.I. Lie Detector.
Suffice to say that he is admitted into the P.S.C. Science class which is noted for producing scholarship winners, potential doctors, budding genii and even literary talents but where on earth does he obtain his minimum qualifications and from what source? To us, Ah Fatt is nothing but a vertebrate quite low in the ladder of evolution, just a degree better than our first cousin, the monkey. Since his partial-vacuum stores very little “guts”, his intelligence is far below par and therefore his place in the class is highly unstable and temporary.
There is no morphological differentiation in Ah Fatt after all these years, save that the coefficient of cubical expansion of his adipose tissue has swelled his belly and his hips sideways. However, Ah Fatt is looking for some reduction factor by keeping himself virtually in vibration and exercise and semi-starvation, but his resolving power dissociates from his assumption with a force some thousand dynes more than the degrees of his affinity. The resultant activity is that he is growing into the shape of a two-legged giant ovum.
When he attends the chemistry lecture, he enjoys an uninterrupted nap with the aid of a pair of sunglasses which baffles the visuality of the teacher. But this daring venture is soon detected when Ah Fatt’s snoring frequency frequency is between 30 and 3,000, and it is so audible as to resound in everyone’s ear.
“Ah Fatt,” thunders the master. Ah Fatt’s reflex action is immediate. He tries to spring to his feet, but the gravitational force plus the weight of his fat body multiplied by the violent shock all exert a greater pull on him so that he is completely in the state of complete inertia and perspiration. Finally he gathers adequate momentum and potential energy to stand up at 60 degrees to the floor.
“Yez, sire,” stammers the poor Ah Fatt.
“Hello, where are you?” asks the master.
“I’m here, sire.”
“Weren’t you sleeping just now?”
“Very good, but I want to ascertain that you won’t wander too far. Now tell me, what is formed when chlorine gas and hydrogen gas are exploded?”
Without hesitation, Ah Fatt answers, “An explosion, sir.”
The angry master demands a correct answer. After racking his brain for a while, he answers, “It’s at the tip of my tongue….”
Before he can speak another word, Ah Kow, his parasitic host turns pale in fright and, discharging his words like lightning, says, “Stop! Spit it out, fatty, it’s concentrated hydrochloric acid.”
Then Practical Chemistry follows and Ah Fatt suffers more agonies than anything else. He breaks a dozen test tubes, five beakers, a pipette and spoils 500 cc of chemicals and some few litres of acidic solution. His butter fingers, his timid heart and his stupidity make him commit numerous blunders in all his experiments. During titration experiment, he sucks and unfortunately swallows 10 cc of caustic soda (which is the usual drug for suicide) and in a moment of desperation he seizes a bottle of hydrochloric acid and drinks all of it. A vigorous reaction takes place in his stomach but he has overshot the neutralization point. Excess acid now remains so the bright Ah Fatt again tries to remedy this by drinking some alkaline solution. He quaffs off some sodium carbonate solution.
Everything seems to be O.K. when suddenly he notices some gas elopes (evolves) through his olfactory organ and his stomach begins to swell like a balloon. He tests gas with lime water; it turns chalky. He becomes dismayed and seeing the teacher is coming around, Ah Fatt tightens and closes his mouth as well as his nose to stop the hissing carbon dioxide.
The gas, having found the upper exits impossible, mischievously winds its way through the intestines and out of Ah Fatt’s anus, this time, coming out in the form of hydrogen sulphide. This gas instantly diffuses through the room and its effect causes some P.S.C. girls to be sent to the hospital for treatment.
Ah Fatt is soon bombarded not by alpha particles but by the teacher’s words for liberating critical volumes of H2S from Kipp’s apparatus. But the adamant Ah Fatt denies this hypothesis, the latent heat of the master’s anger is thus stirred. Before he is able to stand up, Ah Fatt runs down the stairs with a velocity of 20 m.p.h. and is impelled by a horse power of 10 foot-pounds per second. There is no streamline motion due to his stout body but friction, kinetic energy and thermodynamics are all involved.
At the junction he comes into full compact with a P.S.C. girl. Equilibrium is upset by the unequal momentums that come into action. The girl is repelled with a force of 99.9 dynes and at the rate of 1 cm per second. Ah Fatt’s quarter inch thick glasses are shattered into atoms and his 15 pounds weight of thick text books are scattered about like ions in a solution. The P.S.C. girl explodes like fifty tons of T.N.T. and almost spontaneously liberates a vast amount of energy which burns Ah Fatt’s face red.
After the incident, Ah Fatt becomes more cautious than ever but his stupidity still prevails. One day, an explosion like that of a baby atomic bomb goes off in the V.I. laboratory causing a minor earthquake in K.L. The culprit is none other than Ah Fatt the silly dope who, during the preparation of oxygen by heating potassium chlorate, unknowingly adds some concentrated sulphuric acid into the KClO3. Before Ah Fatt realizes what he is doing, a violent explosion caused by the chlorine dioxide goes off like a local hydrogen bomb. Screams, shrieks and cries fill the famous V.I. Practically everything in the laboratory is blown off …. But where is the Fatty? Thrown out of the window of the V.I.? Or is he knocked into the sky or most probably into Hell. … no one knows … until the V.I. Columnist discovers him hiding under the spreading skirts of the P.S.C. girls.
3. AH FATT AT THE V.I. SPORTS
It was Sports day once again – the day everyone had been waiting for and Ah Fatt most of all. Ah Fatt was practising hard for the sports. He intended to take the maximum points and come out champion. After all, he was a champion back in his own state, that is, he was the champion baby and held the title for many years running. So everybody who was interested in Ah Fatt’s activities was told that he was having final athletic refining.
But Ah Fatt had some difficulty before the meet. They could not decide to what class he belonged. He had lost his birth certificate. Everybody was baffled as to what was to be done. Suddenly Ah Fatt had a bright idea. In his purse, where he kept his precious belongings, he had a tooth which he had extracted recently. Sure the great scientists of the P.S.C. could discover the age of the tooth. All the biologists, with their thick spectacles, put their heads together and, after much argument and fuming, found out that it was a donkey’s tooth.
They reprimanded Ah Fatt for being so indomitable. That was his tooth and he was willing to have another out to be examined. The prospective dentists of the P.S.C. went to work and after much chopping and twisting and hammering and digging, they extracted one which, to their consternation, was similar to the first tooth.
As a last resort, the Sports Committee asked Ah Fatt to write to his family. The answer came:- Ah Fatt was born in the Year of the Pig. After much toiling in the Chinese almanack, Ah Fatt still defied the classification and thus was put in a class of his own.
He was all out for points in the inter-house athletic qualifications and it was a great day for Ah Fatt, indeed, for he broke many things. In the high jump, lumbering up to the bar, he heaved a mighty leap and collapsed on the bar. It was a new bar so the teacher in charge, finding it impossible to obtain any other, conceded a point to Ah Fatt. He proudly summoned the photographers and newspaper reporters and gave them a cock and bull story.
Then Ah Fatt went to the long jump. He started out from the very far end of the field. All eyes were turned on him. Ah Fatt swelled in pride. Everybody was grinning at him, no doubt giving him encouragement, he thought. Then he started out. By some unknown process he reached the jumping mark and up he went. Half-way short of the sand pit, he landed and at that moment the K.L. meteorological station records a quiver of the earth, the first time in the history of Malaya. The geologists started looking for faults on the surface of the earth and scratched their heads. The secret, however, was known in the V.I.
Then came the 220 yards. Six boys in six different lanes were to be at the starting point. The five boys stood ready in their lanes waiting for Ah Fatt who had not turned up yet. They discovered him having a last minute of warming up. At last he turned up, but there was a slight hitch. Due to his immensity, Ah Fatt had to occupy two lanes and one of the runners had to leave.
“Ready?” “Get set…. Go!” and the boys sprinted forward but Ah Fatt headed for the direction of the school. “Wait for me,” he shouted, “I am going to get my vitamin E pills.” But before he could lift his elephantine legs, they had finished the race. Anyway, Ah Fatt would not miss his pills, which were essential for life. Reaching the classroom, he reached for a small bottle which was labelled “Vitamin E” – expectant mothers – and swallowed the pills two at a time. Ah Fatt emptied the whole bottle into his stomach.
4. CHONG FATT IS MISSING
A week after the last issue of the V.I. Voice was published, it was rumoured that Chong Fatt was missing and could not be traced by his form-master, Mr Ramasingam, who even set Scotland Backyard on the case. The reason why those mata-matas and their rabid dogs came prowling around the school compound was to try and pick up the scent of our friend but, unfortunately, those dogs had contracted a severe cold the previous night when they had been out in a storm; this had made their nostrils stuffy and, poor dogs!, they couldn’t smell anything at all – no, not even Chong Fatt!
Mr Ramasingam tried to contact his parents but found to his dismay that the address which Chong Fatt had given was that of his uncle, who lived in a very comfortable home which was six feet below the usual level. Anyway, the school-master paid him a nocturnal visit (for fear of being noted as a cemetery prowler if he went by daylight) and wasn’t pleased to see the old boy awake. Not only did he get the address of our hero, but also an invitation to tea. Mr Ramasingam thanked the man for the invitation and departed in a hurry for he was already getting the jitters. The next morning he called at the home of Mr Ah Chong, the Opium King, at 13, Lorong Hantu, and informed him of his son’s absence from school the previous two days.
The opium King was so surprised at this news that he nearly fainted; he had not missed his son all this while because he had been in a stupor following his taking an overdose of marijuana. The next day, the news of Chong Fatt’s absence from home was splashed across the front pages of the local newspapers. The following is an exact copy of what was written in the Bluff Times:
“STOP PRESS. Chong Fatt, the son and heir of the Opium King, Ah Chong, has been reported missing from his home since Monday, the 14th of September. He was last seen cycling along Chow Kit Road on Sunday by his pal, Changi Teh. He was then wearing a loud Tee-shirt, blue jeans and a pair of 3-D glasses.
“He is a fat, stupid-looking boy who has much energy in store to spare and rides a bone-shaker bicycle which leads to the discovery of the fifty sharps and flats that are distinctly audible 2½ miles away. His vital measurements are as follows: Height - 5 ft. 0 ins.; Weight – 25½ stones (approximately), and the circumference of his belly is roughly about two yards.
“Anyone knowing the whereabouts of the above-mentioned boy, please phone K.L. 12155 or write to 13, Lorong Hantu, K.L. If the information leads to the location of Chong Fatt, the informer shall receive many thanks and a reward of $101/- only.”
But this was not of any avail and, finally, a week later, Mr Ah Chong gave up all hope of ever seeing the apple of his eye again.
Then one night, Mr King Kong, the ex-ping pong champion of Hong Kong, told the Opium King that many Chinese youths from Indonesia were sailing home to a good job and an education in the good old “Tong San,” under the Mao regime. This gave him an idea – possibly Chong Fatt had stowed away on board the China-bound vessel when it touched at Singapore ten days before. If so, he might already have reached Shanghai by then. So he wired his relations in Hangchow to confirm this fanciful thought of his. While he waited a favourable reply, pleasant feelings began to creep into the mind of the Opium King – “who knows,” he thought, “possibly Chong Fatt might be elected next in line of succession in the communist hierarchy of modern China.”
But those hopes of Mr Ah Chong were all shattered the next moment when a note form one of the many Mrs Ah Chongs (this one lived in Penang) arrived saying that Chong Fatt was having an enviable holiday at the sea-side bungalow of the Opium King at Tanjong Bungah.
Immediately the old man went to the Malayan Airlines Ltd., and booked 125 cubic feet of space in an air cargo plane for the “importation” of Chong Fatt to K.L. as the airline’s agents would not undertake to transport him by passenger plane because the plane might not be able to take off with our hero in it. In the meantime, our hero’s father hurried off home to prepare a warm welcome for this “prodigal son” of his. On the other hand, Chong Fatt expected a very cold reception in K.L. So, in order to avoid feeling any pain, he resorted to the custom for which his father is renowned throughout the length and breadth of this country.
Unfortunately, he did not know the exact dose necessary for a day or two with the result that he took an overdose, which caused his falling into a coma from which it is believed that he will never rise again, for, in the words of the local coroner, it was a case of “death by misadventure.”
4. AH FEI DOES THE CROSS-COUNTRY RUN
It was not until the other day that I spotted Ah Fei, the junior edition of our long lost friend, Ah Fatt. At first it was his massive bulk, then his astonishing anthropometrical figures of 40-45-40, and finally certain familiar idiosyncrasies that struck me. With the same chubby tubby rotundity, given a boost in height, Tweedledum and Tweedledee would not look more alike. So this is Ah Fatt's kid brother, I said to myself.
I next saw Ah Fei on the sports field on the morning of Friday, May 18th. In dazzling red jersey, one size too small to show to the best advantage his unstatuesque build, he was tackling the three-mile course with his roly-poly bounciness.
Ah Fei has always loathed the countryside. He has always been equally averse to running. Therefore, this grotesque product from the cross between the country and the race earned his special disfavour. The terrifying prospect of being involved in what was expected to be a hot-cross-run had been an incubus to him for the past week. I found him considerably reduced.
He could easily have visited an M. D. and his enormity could have easily aroused sympathy and won him a medical certificate. Perhaps some genuine excuses might even have been found among his superabundance of adipose tissues. But in a spirit in keeping with the name of Fatty, he wanted to have a go.
So off dashed this lumbering monstrosity in a flash of red, the rural silence inevitably marred by the thump of his heavy tread. He sped away with a springy lightness which soon degenerated to a jog which again decelerated to a walk. The walk became a dawdle, and the dawdle changed to stumble. At last the stumble terminated in a halt by the wayside. And there were two miles more to go.
His lower limbs being now out of gear, he fell on his fore paws with an ingenuity and resourcefulness found perhaps only in the V.I. But Ah Fei was not Joe E. Brown to walk with his trousers upside down. Instead he thumbed a lift.
A kindly R.A.F. sergeant understandably picked him up and would have whisked him back to school had Ah Fei not remonstrated vehemently. What! To be brought back to the school as the first casualty and to be greeted with bellyfuls of derisive laughter from the reception committee of blue skirts at the gate? This would be ignominy worse than death.
Instead he calmly hopped off at Birch Road and quietly slunk away into hiding until the runners began to return. Lest somebody might think it fishy he joined the middle of the line and beat the time barrier by a hair's breadth.
"Have you really qualified, Ah Fei?" asked his classmates in disbelief.
"What? Do you think I cheated?" he bellowed brazenly. And he left them gaping in awe!
5. AH FATT GOES AWOL
New school term. Ah Fatt's nut refused to accept the fact that school had reopened. He rolled over in bed, snuggled down on his pillow and his tummy fat started squelching protests at being twisted about. The free fatty acids inside him, disturbed from rest, swished about and found a level near the top of his upturned rump.
"Ah Fatt!" screamed a female voice, probably Tarzan's wife, which sounded more like a hoarse female horse. "Aiyah! That dugong! If you don't get up this minute, you won't get any breakfast - you'll get my ham in your mouth!"
Ah Fatt's ears twitched at the mention of food but somehow the cold outside his blanket seemed to dampen his longing for food. Even then he dreamt of food. He dreamt he was preparing to eat a suckling pig. But just before he was about to tuck in his fork and knife, he stopped and cried, "I can't … I just can't… I just can't get on with it!! There are already enough troubles in this world without pig eating pig".
Evidently, then, there are some streaks of greatness even in that fubsy looking manatee.
Finally, Ah Fatt decided to let the food wait. He sighed and rolled over in his bed, again stretching the springs to their maximum overloaded limit. "Screech, Screech," cried Ah Fatt's fatty layers. It was indeed symbiosis at its worst: being so near them Ah Fatt could not even spare a few of his lardy tissues to oil the springs though they held him and he gave them reason to exist.
For Ah Fatt's mother this was the most exasperating time every term - getting Ah Fatt out of bed on the first day of school. This does not mean that he gets out of bed willingly on regular school days though. An exception occurred a year ago when that Ah Fatt chap rolled out of bed in his sleep, crashed through the upstairs floor, the downstairs ceiling and landed on his poor granny who was knitting on the settee. She didn't die - who could, being pinned between two cushions, one on top (Ah Fatt) and the other below (the settee cushion)? She was not hurt but suffered from hallucinations of raining Ah Fatts for five months after. Her psychoanalyst had no alternative but to make her spend those five months in a high-flying plane so that she could feel assured that Ah Fatt was below her.
To Ah Fatt, sleep was essential - he would suffocate if he breathed too long without lying down. Moreover, he doesn't believe in exerting himself.
"Crash!" a bucket flew into Ah Fatt's room and rolled giddily along the floor.
"Ah Fatt! !"
This time a flurry of objects came flying into the room. Brooms, shoes, slippers and even Fatt's private food larder (obviously thrown by a close relative of Tarzan) came in quick succession. Still Ah Fatt slept on, oblivious to the projectiles whizzing into his room. Then a Wellington boot (which had obviously been chewed and stewed before for its nutritive juices by Ah Fatt in one of his hunger pangs) caught him behind his ear.
"Ouch!" screamed the goon and he tore as fast on his podgy legs could carry him out of bed.
Ah Fatt came into view of the school. It was not that he particularly liked school. In fact, he dreaded it but it was a lesser evil to be at school and out of sight of food than to be in full sight of it at home and not be able to touch it for fear of his mum's knuckle-duster. Once he had taken two p(r)awns en passant but Mum spotted him and turning Charles Martel gave him a coup de main on his sweetbread. He had collapsed......
Our Fatty had one reason to hate school. Of course, if you asked him, he would reply that his intelligence ranks with the likes of Einstein seeing that he could synthesize natural fat from such unlikely substances as proteins, carbohydrates, ice cream, candy, cakes etc. (which Einstein never could) and thus smart, what is school? However, the main reason was what happened the previous term. It was during one of his P.E. lessons (To Fatt P.E. = Pleasant Eating, as we shall soon see) and our friend, as everybody knows, was never once physically fit.
He was born a priceless obese ball and obesity has never abandoned him. At birth, he had all the fats in the world including adipocere or corpse fat which only a dead person has. The doctor was so surprised that he recorded the birth in the hospital record as a freak adipoma (or fatty tumour). Well, coming back to our story, Ah Fatt was lumbering round the field when he decided that it was time to pull his Houdini Vanishing Trick. Calling to his friend (and hoping that he would tell teacher), "Nature calls", he disappeared behind some bushes, rested his tonnage against some poor tree, pulled out some kacang from his left pocket and a Schoolgirl Comic from the right hand pocket and commenced to kill time till the end of the period. But the day was so fine and cool, his offal so comfortably full of kacang and teachers so far away that what could he do but lose consciouness. Through all he slept and at the end of period roll-call he was still A.W.O.L.: -
"What? Where, where's that hydrogenated oil… ? (Ed's note: hydrogen solidifies liquid, fat) I'll … I'll bathe him in ether!" (Ed's note: Ether dissolves fats).
There were even threats of forcing Ah Fatt into accepting a free Turkish bath. As a result Ah Fatt was brained and rebrained.
Thus ends the episode on Ah Fatt and his first day of term. If the story is not exhaustive enough the Editorial Board is already too exhausted to carry on. We must also guard against insulting Ah Fatt too much or he might sue us, though goodness knows if he would have the necessary stamina to testify at a rate much faster than three words a minute.
6. Ah Fatt's Football Fiasco (1967)
Holy Burnley Cup! Can this really be true?
Has our fat frivolous friend finally fancied football?
Read on you ardent followers, Ah Fatt cometh yet again.
In stately Victoria Institution, Ah Fatt's troubles began. The whole messy business started at Ah Fatt's house meeting a few weeks ago. The topic being discussed then was the house football team. The Sports Captain after consulting his list and fingers (he would have consulted his toes if he had the guts and the stomach!) looked up at the teeming tangle of legs and arms in the crowded classroom and shouted above the din:
"Hey .... er .... You know something ? We have only ten boys. We need one more boy to fill the team."
One characteristic long pause and show of indifference.
"Come on, fellows. If there are no volunteers we shall have to conscript volunteers, understand?"
Meanwhile, Ah Fatt like any normal, overweight, indifferent schoolboy was waiting for the meeting to be over so that he could rush over to the canteen and satisfy the rumbling in his stomach. Ah Fatt in his usual way was taking a nap (while standing!) at the back of the classroom.
He was "foodmaring" again. He dreamt he was down in Madras Lane at the char siew pau stall He saw a juicy pau dangling before his eyes. If there was anything that Ah Fatt liked it - was char siew pau. With Ah Fatt it was an addiction. The char siew pau sellers haven't had it so good since he came down to V.I. from Kelantan. If he could only reach, it. If he could only… stretch out… a bit more…. Got it!!…
The next thing he knew he was being pushed up to the front of the classroom and his name was being read out.
Thoughts of torture ran through his nut. Caught sleeping during a house meeting!!..
"…will represent the house (captain chokes and turns blue in the face) at football this afternoon."
Ah Fatt was dazed!! Why, the nearest he had ever got to playing in a house game, was when he was made third reserve to the water-carrier in his cricket team. He sat down on the nearest chair. Then the thought of playing football for the house finally overcame his fear of reprimand. His emotions got the better of him. He pummeled his chest with his paws and he gave an ear-splitting scream.
Three-fifteen that same afternoon….
Ten heavily laden boys struggle to the centre of the field and deposit a much indignant Ah Fatt at the referee's feet. Ah Fatt, collecting as much dignity as he could, gave a sniff and lumbered off to the only position he could ever dream of playing - goalie.
"What? Can I go home now?"
"No. Where do you think you're going?
"I saw that goal-post there and thought maybe… you know… sort of… save me quite a bit of running…."
"I didn't mean it…."
"AH FATT!!! You CLOT...... THAT is their goal . THIS is our goal…"
Peep! the whistle announced the start of play. Ah Fatt tried to remember the coaching the captain had given him.
"Now let me see. Kick the ball when it is out of play…. Head it when…"
So engrossed was Ah Fatt in his thoughts that he failed to notice the opposing left-wing running down along the side-line. The left-wing kicked. The ball flew through the air and caught Ah Fatt in his stomach….
Thus Ah Fatt's brave stand (not to mention his career) came to a shattering end.
P.S. Ah Fatt sends his humblest apologies to his house captain from his bed in the animal house where he is recuperating! (Whoever sent Ah Fatt the wreath will be glad to know that he says it tastes quite all right with tomato sauce. Ed.)
7. Ah Fatt falls into the Swimming Pool (1967)
By now many of you would have been familiar with Ah Fatt's rotund figure around the V.I. scene, and many of you would have noticed a slight decrease in our hero's ample girth. This, of course, is due to our hero's plunge into V.I. sports - the swimming pool to be more explicit.
Now this may come as a surprise to many of you but Ah Fatt simply loves swimming. It all began when he was only six months old, still a 30-pound tiny tot. His family took him down to the seaside for the day and, being of an inquisitive nature, our hero wandered into the sea. Just then a huge wave bowled the tiny tot over and washed him out. Instead of crying or thrashing about, a pleased smile spread over Ah Fatt's chubby face as he floated contentedly on his back. His family watched in amazement and his delighted father could not help exclaiming, "He'll make it to the Olympics Games yet!"
From then on, our hero kept on frequenting the beautiful Kelantan seaside. Morning and evening (whenever he played truant from school), Ah Fatt could be seen wallowing gently under the sun in the water. Now and again he would blow a stream of water from his mouth in sheer contentment and soon our hero was named "the Whale of Kelantan." Thus Ah Fatt joined the exalted ranks of such people as "the Lion of Malaya" and "the Lion of Judah."
In the V.I., however, Ah Fatt faced a lot of difficulties. I had best start by relating his first swimming lesson in detail. Now, Ah Fatt in his daily clothes is a sight to make faces turn and eyes pop, but Ah Fatt in all his naked glory... .., to be more precise, in a pair of scarlet trunks which could fit three Form One boys all at once, and a swimming cap fashioned from a balloon! No wonder Ah Fatt's swimming master nearly swallowed his whistle. Luckily he was hanging onto the lanyard with both hands.
However, Ah Fatt the Whale only enjoyed wallowing in the water. He didn't take it kindly when his swimming master (still nursing a sore throat) ordered him to swim up and down the pool. At least Ah Fatt's swimming styles were orthodox. As one of his admiring classmates exclaimed, "He can swim the crawl, the breast stroke and the dolphin butterfly all at once, even interspersed with the back stroke now and again."
One afternoon pupils going to the swimming pool found the whole place wet - and it was all Ah Fatt's fault. He tried diving from the highest board and when he landed, a minor tsunami was created, with waves ten feet high. One of his classmates landed on the roof of the swimming pool and, boy! was he embarrassed when two Form Six girls passing by spotted him and exclaimed, "Look - a bird!" Ah Fatt is feeling very sad because he lost his prize front tooth when he hit the bottom. Not only that, he can't whistle any more. (Ed: Ah Fatt is offering a small reward to anyone who can retrieve the tooth from the pool. He is offering a bigger reward to the person who can stick it back on.)
Many of you were puzzled about Ah Fatt's name. Well, ten years ago, Ah Fatt's uncle was famous in the V.I. as the fattest boy in Malaya. Even as a 150-pound infant, the present Ah Fatt hero-worshipped his uncle. He decided that he too would follow in his uncle's footsteps - oops - I mean footholes, because whenever his uncle walked about the school, his feet left great holes in the ground due to his uncle's enormous weight. Ah Fatt decided he would name himself after his uncle. That was how he got his name. If any of you aspire to follow in Ah Fatt's footholes, you too can eat like him and attain his dimensions and be called Ah Fatt.
By the way did any of you notice the big hole in the centre of the road near the Sixth Form Block? Well, Ah Fatt was walking along the road when suddenly he saw a piece of paper on the road. Remembering all the orders about picking up litter, he bent over. However, at this juncture, it must be explained that Ah Fatt cannot reach his toes. In fact he cannot even touch his knees. The more Ah Fatt tried to bend over, the more unbalanced he became. Suddenly he slipped and fell on his head. His head, which is as hard as stone (one time a teacher accidentally broke his feather duster on it), cracked the tarmac and, if you pass the road now, you can still see the mark left by Ah Fatt's head.
The other day, Ah Fatt donned his cloak and dagger and set out to discover the elusive 206. His first contact was Vic, who called himself Agent 206. For a small fee I can reveal all the secrets of 206, Vic said, dragging Ah Fatt towards the lecture theatre. Ah Fatt sized him up immediately. Vic looked stupid all right. How could he know what he, Ah Fatt, didn't know? But still, he might have the information...
They were both alone and Vic led Ah Fatt to the door next to the entrance to the lecture theatre. Vic told Ah Fatt to go in. Ah Fatt headed towards the room. Suddenly something embarrassing happened! His body became stuck in the doorway. Ah Fatt was trapped. He could not move forward. He could not move back. He heard girls' voices approaching and Vic was nowhere to be seen. In his panic his fat turned to jelly and, with a sigh of relief, Ah Fatt slid from the doorway and quickly made for his house. He still hadn't found the secret of 206.....
Last update: 26 July 2009.
Compiled by: Chung Chee Min