[ The V.I. HomePage | Back to the V.I. Literary Archives Menu ]
ODE TO A RED ROSE
Phang Kow Weng, VIIIB
A sonnet dedicated to R.C. Resplendent rose of brilliant crimson hue, Omen of fragrance, fineness, charm and joy. Still stand supreme amidst the dainty rue; Esthetic prime, esteem what you employ. Right round thy check, thy fragrance seems to tell Of life itself, though you we cannot hear Sorrow shows thou by thorns that bring no well; Ecstasy hint by scent of petals clear. Red petals wither, like things said or done, Once fallen, cannot 'gain with sepals hung; Such sere scarlet, distilled, will live as one, Eternal through time, though no breath in lung. Refined blossom, sway the merry way, Cast thy blushes towards the glorious ray.
A SHEPHERD BOY
Ameen Thajuddin, Senior 3
Under a spreading mango tree, Dwells a shepherd boy bright and free; Of humble parents is he born Where pride has nothing worth to scorn. From peep of dawn to late at night Life to him is doubtless bright. Ignorant is he of precious wealth. Craves he for nothing but good health. He leads to graze his flock of sheep, At eve he drives them home to sleep Of weather he is a perfect master Claims he too a perfect jester.
A POET'S DREAM.
"A scientific poet", P.S.C. SC
Upon the lofty pinions of Poesy, In such a transport of boundless ecstasy Felt I my spirit then did skyward soar Higher and higher still, my soul it bore. Skimming over the transparent air and sky Where massy clouds rolled meditating by, Till reaching the pinnacles of heaven, The abode of Gods, the bards' last haven, Then like a new star swimming to its fold I stood among the galaxy poets of old.
THE MODERN GIRL
(Any resemblance to any living person is only coincidental and is deeply regretted by the author)
The male human animal can be traced back anthropologically to his jungle cousin - the male ape and, similarly the female animal can trace her origin to her kinswoman - the female ape. Through every advancing generation these two animals have multiplied, regenerated and become civilised to a new animal - the 'human.'
It is always the case that one generation will look back with scorn, mockery and pity on its past generation and inevitably prefix itself with the word "modern". In this contemporary world, that word has a close relationship with Americanism. The idealism of the modern Malayan is after the example of that country.
Let us now have a look at the Modern Daughters of Eve who are thriving in this sunny land of Malaya.
The head of our Modern Girl, we are proud to say, is full of knowledge, such knowledge as is necessary for and befitting a modern girl, knowledge which generations past and present will not fail to applaud, knowledge such as Vanity, and Whims. One notable and interesting virtue, too, has been the lot of part of our femininity to receive. This can be simply understood as Amazonian mental prowess or, more vulgarly put, 'the quality of volcanic explosiveness', being promoted, perhaps, by the specimens to produce a volley of words, phrases and quotations, etc., which rather resemble a nucleic energy chain reaction. I should understand it, however, as an extravagance of passion.
The description of the external features of our Modern Girl is outside my scope and beyond my ungifted eyes. As far as I can say, I have a hazy idea that it is of some doubtful red spots and blotches and some sort of dark object seems to be prominent.
The economic ups and downs of a country often have an effect on its people, and this is distinctly demonstrated recently in Malaya. The rubber industry was approaching a slump, the people were hard-pressed for money, and the cost of textiles mounted. This was reflected by the scantily dressed style which came into vogue among the female sex. The clothes worn by girls seem nowadays to be slimmed down to a bare necessity. The fashion seems to be to remove the two sleeves thus often revealing a pair of uncouth arms. If some other explanation exists, it is, I am sorry to admit, beyond me!
Imported from overseas and less to blame on our Malayans are the wears called the slacks and jeans. This style has an unfortunate resemblance to the mode of wear of the internationally renowned rickshaw puller. The jeans appear like the rolled up trousers of a rickshaw puller. That it enhances the appearance of our modern little women, I have no doubt.
A significant trend towards westernisation and thus abandonment of the old East has been shown in names such as Dolly, Amy and Betty which rather remind us of those infamous dwellers of famous Paris - the Fifis and the Mimis. These names, however, are used only outside the school and among male admirers. One spiteful gentleman has remarked sorely that if we see a group of Modern Girls walking along together and if we were to shout out any names such as Doris or Carolina at random, one or more of the girls will answer to these names.
So much about them, but what are the reactions of our Modern Boy? Well, they just flock around and worship these simple, naïve and innocent creatures, the ingenious creation of the universe! Bless them!
A Klang Boy's Retrospection
An Unknown Klang Boy, P.S.C.
January the 8th will long remain in my memory, for it was the first time that I had left Klang and my school to join another - the V.I. As I struggled up the steep slope in front of the V.I. I fell to contrasting the school before me with my old one. As human nature would have it, it was with a feeling almost amounting to dislike that I glanced around. This feeling persisted throughout the morning but a little incident in the afternoon helped to clear up much of it.
Soon after we had arrived for the afternoon session, we were taken to the chemistry laboratory. As I entered it I was lost in amazement. What a beauty! This laboratory was the first real one I had ever been into. Most of us, especiallly the newcomers, immediately fell in love with it. The room had smooth clean long tables, neatly arranged bottles on their respective shelves and there was a smell of chemicals prevailing in the air.
My classmates are typical Malayan boys and they possess the usual share of pride in their school. This is chiefly due to their being in the "premier school of the Federation" as one of them confided to me. Getting acquainted with the V.I. boys was extremely difficult because of the contempt in which they pretended to hold for us.
"Oh, this Klang guy", "Another foreign import, oh?" or "From which ulu did you come?" - these soon became favourite phrases with them. Whenever they met us these gentlemen used to wave to us condescendingly, and called us nicknames amid laughter. "Klang", incidentally, became a byword in the class. The responsibility for any mischief done was usually placed without hesitation on the "Klang guys". The menacing question "Who did this?" or "Who did that?" was always levelled at a slow exasperating newcomer. "Oh, those Klang fellows, of course" or "No wonder, you come from ulu Klang" was the retort when a foreign import failed to answer any difficult questions. "Go back to Klang" or "Balek kampong" was not a rare expression they used. "Such a thing may be done in Klang, but not in the V. I." and we would squirm and wriggle in our chairs and finally join in the laughter.
In common with the others it was some time before I became accustomed to the new mode of teaching. Even now the pace set by some of the teachers often is too much for us. A touch of hilarity, however, is given by the highly civilized gentlemen of the V.I.
At times, too, the teachers insisted on asking whether we understood the lesson or not. The usual way of answering such an embarrassing question was, at one time, to nod. This, however, was discontinued after an exceptionally wily teacher deliberately made an erroneous statement and caught us out when we solemnly nodded in reply. Thus, laughter is never absent for long from the class and it is for this reason I think that, in spite of the hardship in the Post Senior Science Class, life here is most enjoyable.
The Fascination of Water
Any one who has been to a harbour or the seaside will not fail to admire the security and calm of the extensive trough of water that surrounds this world. It gives us a sense of being in touch with the ends of the universe. This is the beginning of infinity and mystery lies over the sea, and that perhaps is why men are content to stand on the pier head to gaze at the water for hours on end.
Pulau Ketam is an interesting place to visit. Its meagre population consists entirely of Chinese fishermen. Standing near the shore one day, I saw hundreds of boats lying side by side, making a camp of masts on the shallow water. In the afternoon, children rushed madly to the sea to swim. They were very happy and indeed they swam and played in the warm sea for a considerable period.
At the approach of twilight scores of fishermen gathered in their boats, ready to set out in search of the hidden treasure from the bosom of the sea. Every sort of boat made for sea, higgledy-piggledy, in a long line. They overtook one another on the deep blue sea but for the most part they moved together and seemed like a town travelling over the sea.
At nightfall every boat was lighted. In the pitch darkness, they hung together like a company of dancing stars on the oily water. They made different patterns on the water. At this moment, words cannot adequately convey how I enjoyed seeing the beautiful reflections on the surface of the calm sea as the boat in which I was travelling glided lazily under waves of darkness to its destination.
Lum Yun Foo, Post Senior One
Alone I wander as a cloud, Amid deep vales and mountains high, The sun's warm rays the world enshroud When hark! A distant din list I Loud grows the roar in crescendo, A thousand sprays spurt up and fall A thousand diamonds flash up and go; 'Tis the resplendent waterfall! Downwards the watery torrents splash Forever with storm stern majesty. Volume after volume the swash Thunders the rock in glee. Above the ripples spark and crawl As serene as in Paradise; Below, there howls a fearful brawl That seems forever to heaven rise. And away melt my soul with joy, The Lost World and the Lost Time found; Treading in air instead of soil When homeward loathly I am bound.
I Speak of You
I speak of flowers and the stars, Whene'er I speak of you. I tell of all that's good and true For, with your name, there comes a glow, That's sent from high above; And so I speak most tenderly When speaking of your love; My every word is lined with praise; And deep devotion dear, I speak of you with reverence, And long to have you near! I have within my heart for you, A love greater by far Than any love could ever be; You are my guiding star! I speak of you my dearest one, With all my heart and soul; And just to make you happy, dear, Will be my only goal!
by Lecampanologist, Senior One
Cockroach Amorous direct approach By male or female cockroach Cast no slur On him or her. Mole The conversation of two moles Is tastefully genteel and chaste, They pick the very neatest holes In other moles equal taste Flea The fleas themselves unpalatable, Romance and such, as touching on vulgarity So fleas develop little sense of fun, Being poor as catsmeat and charity.
The Anatomy and Ethics of Criticism
P. Arudsothy, P. S. C. Arts II
Criticism, quite contrary to popular fallacy, is a constructive rather than a destructive or even a merely futile farce. The ability to offer and accept criticism must certainly be considered the most civilizing of all human attributes, for without this ability, man would not have scaled the heights in the arts and sciences that he has reached. Today, criticism plays a vital role not only in the social sphere but also in the field of literature and the arts and also in politics. The instruments of criticism extend from the individual in a community to the press and other influential public bodies.
Criticism may be defined as the expression of adverse or favourable personal opinion directed towards some other person, person's actions, works or opinions.
Though nowadays one tends to regard criticism as a part of the cultural and scientific progress of.man, one must not be blind to the absolute truth that man's ability to criticise is an inborn quality and not an required facility. Man's critical faculty must not be thought of as a recent acquisition like the various advances affected in the field of science; for a critical capacity is one of the most primitive instincts or qualities man ever possessed.
The Stone Age man in his cave dwelling would not have been a total stranger to the critical ability; for even he would have expressed disapproval with a grunt and a rumbling growl or shown great pleasure with a thunderous shout of joy. Modern intellectuals may feel intrigued by this queer notion of the caveman's faculty; but a little reflection on their part would reveal that in everything men say and write, words play only a minor part, for words are not an end in themselves but only a means to an end. Words without sincere feeling or words without any purpose are words utterly without meaning.
The purpose of criticism is to detect mistakes and flaws and to suggest means and methods of rectifying them. However, it should be borne in mind that the primary and ultimate purpose of criticism is to improve something or to build something better, and not, as some 'critics' imagine, to revile, to abuse, and to try to destroy everything someone else has tried to build. 'Critics' who persist in ceaseless abuse and offer no constructive remedies at all are not true critics because they ignore all the first principles that underlie the noble traditions of criticism. Tho importance of criticism cannot be overestimated when one recognizes the fact that it is vital to the enjoyment of a better and fuller life.The spirit of any criticism matters as much as the substance of that criticism. The true critic would try to be persuasive in his arguments rather than be offensive or merely abusive in his remarks. As Alexander Pope says in his Essay on Criticism, a critic should be
"Unbiased, or by favour or by spite; Not dully prepossessed, nor blindly right; modestly bold, and humanly severe."
First of all a critic must possess an extensive and comprehensive knowledge of the matter he is about to deal with. A critic who wilfully or unintentionally pursues his wrong and misleading arguments would do more harm than the original which he criticises. It was in this context that Pope said, "A little learning is a dangerous thing." Unfortunately for Pope, most of those who quote this line from his poem conveniently choose to forget its context to suit their own interests. What Pope actually said was that a little learning in the hands of a critic is a dangerous thing.
A critic who thinks he is capable of dealing with a topic should then begin to analyse his own personal feelings regarding it with perfect candour. Cant, prejudice and personal feelings have no place in true criticism. It is, indeed, very difficult for men to rise above the mental stagnancy of prejudice and hypocrisy; but unless it is eradicated criticism becomes a farce, a mere excuse for ventilating petty and trifling personal opinions and for exhibiting a capacity for shallow thinking. A true critic would not disagree with something through sheer mental laziness and the consequent inability to follow the arguments of the original. If a true critic has to conform to such exacting ethical principles, he also has his rewards. Milton, one of the greatest of critics, wrote in Areopagitica:
"For he who freely magnifies what had been nobly done, and fears not to declare as freely what might be done better, gives ye the best convenant of his fidelity; ....His highest praise is not flattery, and his plainest advice is a kind of praising."
K. J. R.
Jeyaratnam, Kanagaratnam, handsome, tall, Was wont to utter a fearful call, When by the lectures he was pressed To note how the V.I. had progressed. Since the gory, galumptious days Immortalized in V.I. plays. For him, no screaming flame in lights Ford motor cars, the dizzy heights, Or praise by letter (Oh! What cost) Could compensate for what he lost, By chancing to cingulate About five hundred days too late. Born in the only days for him He might have swung a bat with vim And banged off sixes by the scores Instead of nicking miserable fours: Stuck powder, lipstick on his face And mastered with the Venetian mace Audiences who wore armour on their chests Instead of little woolen vests. M.B.S. & V.I. failed to floor The spirit of this warrior, Though ragged and teased and dressed a sight K.J. hung on with all his night, And even when the cricketing sir (Regarding him with nausea) Condemned him to the dismal tears Of Secretary to the cricketing peers K.J. in lace and golden crown Ran round looking a clown Believing in a kind of trance, That one day he would have his chance. His faith was true; though once misled By an appeal that he had read No, not to become the common Bortia. But rather be the lovely Portia He was not long deceived; he found No other daring actors round. His chance came later; one fine day Another paper blew his way. K.J. read; K.J. had an interview And K.J. an uncrowned cricketing blue Still spellbound by that word 'sausage', Espoused the importance of work backstage. With what a zest did he prepare To bang in nails with horrible care. With what a glee he fastened on With pins the curtains he had torn He sallied forth with glittering eye, Prepared to do; prepared to die, But not prepared, by Lucifer not, For the reception that he got. Over this chapter of the tale It would be kind to draw a veil. Let it suffice that in disdain, Some students threw him in a drain And cycling home all soaked inside, He caught pneumonia and died!! His will was read - his fellows learned K.J. wished his body to be burned With huge heroic flames of fire Upon a Roman funeral pyre. But P.A.II, sole legatee, Averse to such publicity, Thought that his bidding might be done Without disturbing any one, And in a highly touching scene, Cremated him on the V.I. green. And so K.J. in a little time, Ceased to disturb the V.I. clime.
Looking Through My Window
A short bell rings; the sign for a change of period. Suddenly, there is a great bustle around of boys getting ready for their next lesson. Someone, maybe the monitor, declares that the teacher will not be coming. This news arouses the boys' curiosity.
As I have nothing to do at this time, I peep out of the window. The first sight that catches my eye is the green grass and the swaying trees. It is a bright day, the sky a vivid blue and the birds are twittering about, as if enjoying the wonderful sunshine. At this time, an old gardener and his companion are working on the lawn. The companion collects the mowed grass, puts it into a big sack, carries it away and disappears from my view. A middle-aged mandor is telling the other gardener to move away quickly as the day's work is done.
In the background runs the main road. One can easily hear the roar of vehicles as they pass by. Beyond the road are low hills, clad with trees and scattered bungalows. Quite near to a house a group of small children are playing, probably without the knowledge of their mother. Behind the house spring tall and slender trees giving much shade, and lending a touch of beauty to the neighbourhood. They look cool and peaceful in the shadow, in contrast to the glare of the. sun.
With a last look at the window, I turn to the class. It is twenty minutes for another bell. It seems a long time but I must make "hay while the sun shines".
[The following two Ah Fatt stories appeared in the first issue and the fourth (and last) issue of the V.I. Voice. Although authored ostensibly by "The VI Columnist" they were actually by two different writers. The first author, Tay Chong Hai (now Dr.), left the editorial board before he could continue the story. Nevertheless, the first episode of the V.I.'s own Billy Bunter caught the imagination of the whole school and had the pupils hungering for more. One presumes that Ah Fatt survived the interview with the H.M. in this first story and went on to become a V.I. pupil as evinced by the episode written by the unknown second "V.I. Columnist". He appeared in another adventure with a scientific theme in the 1953 inaugural issue of the Scientific Victorian (penned again by the creator Tay Chong Hai). Ah Fatt was inexplicably transformed into "Chong Fatt" in the first issue of the Seladang in October 1953. He was briefly revived in the Seladang in 1967. - C.C.M.]
AH FATT COMES TO THE VICTORIA INSTITUTION
By THE VI COLUMNIST
One Monday morning about 7.30 am. 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 the 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 well 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 examination.......... and was kicked out. But Ah Fatt, like every good Malayan, hopes to become a 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 to Senior. Well, this practice may be good in the ulus, where he can go to any school through the headmaster's 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 not only Std. 7 but also Std. 8. because you must take into consideration that he was third boy in his former school and is, undoubtedly, a brillant chap. The third boy in the class is certainly very good, but how many boys were there in the class? Ah Fatt proudly answers that it had about five boys and adds, assuringly, that not only he but also his first boy failed in the examination.
This matter is certainly very difficult for the H.M. of the school to handle. The Educational Department's advice is sought, and an extraordinary meeting of the staff is held to investigate this matter. Ah Fatt becomes famous overnight and soon he finds his name splashing over the newspapers. Lucky Ah Fatt - he is admitted at last, to the lowest class in standard six. This morning, he is wanted by the principal for an interview.
His new adventure is now beginning.
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, it 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 school 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 behind this is. Can it be the fact that everyone who enters the V.I. should inspect its building by going round it before he leaves?
After he has planted his bicycle among a host of other bicycles, he cleverly succeeds in cheating the cycle 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 white coat and tie on, bulging and looking big. Ah Fatt thinks that this must be a V.I. master, so he smiles at the magnificently dressed man and greets him with "Good morning, sir", thinking all the time that he will win the master's favour. The prefect, as it really is, does not hear him, for his mind is woolgathering in heaven. Disappointed, Ah Fatt moves on.
"My gosh!" cried 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 don't know. Perhaps 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. There 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 his opportunity to glance round the building.
A red light gleams high above the headmaster's office. Boys hurry to and fro. Soon he hears the electric bell 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 jungle 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 can not make head or tail of it.
A disorderly gang of students all armed with science books and huge laboratory books passes him, laughing and talking all the time and loudly. This sight is familiar to Ah Fatt who compares the students who are obviously going to the labs to the uncouth farmers in 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 summons behind him from the office. However, he recovers and he goes into the H.M.'s office for the interview.
AH FATT AT THE V.I. SPORTS
by THE V.I. COLUMNIST
It was Sports Day once again - the day everybody had been waiting for and Ah Fatt most of all. Ah Fatt was practising hard for the sports. He had 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 activity 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 very recently. Surely the great scientists of the P.S.C. classes 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. But that was his tooth, said Ah Fatt, and he was willing to have another out to be examined. The prospective dentists of the P.S.C. class 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 toiling in the Chinese almanac, Ah Fatt still defied classification and, thus, was put in a class of his own.
He was all out for points in the inter-house athletic qualification rounds - 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 - another new bar - so that the teacher in charge, finding it impossible to obtain any other, conceded to Ah Fatt a point. He proudly summoned the photographers and newspaper reporters and gave them a cock and bull story.
Then he 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 with pride. Everybody was grinning at him - no doubt giving him encouragement, he thought. Then he started off. By some unknown process he reached the jumping mark and up he went, but half way, short of the sand pit, he landed and, at that moment, the K.L. Meteorological Station recorded a quiver of the earth, the first time in the history of Malaya. The geologists scratched their heads and started to look for faults on the surface of the earth. The secret, however, was known at the V.I.
Then came the 220 yards. Six boys were to be in six different lanes at the starting point. Five boys stood ready in their lanes waiting for Ah Fatt who had not turned up yet. They discovered him having a last minute warm up. Finally, he turned up but there was a slight hitch. Ah Fatt, due to his immensity, 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 elephantive legs, they had finished the race. Anyway, Ah Fatt would not miss his pills which were essential for life. Reaching the classroom he took a small bottle which was labelled Vitamin E - for expectant mothers. Swallowing the pills two at a time, Ah Fatt emptied the whole bottle into his stomach.
Last update on 02 July 2000.