I used to live very far away from my school. Approximately 7 – 8 km away through the intricate city streets of Penang. So, my mom kinda arranged me to board a school bus to school everyday. And in that school bus, I grew up with kids from different ethnicity in my neighborhood, till I was about 14 years old.
I can still remember my first day of boarding the small school bus. I was only 7 years old and was in the afternoon session. The school bus looked something like a loaf of bread tilted horizontally, and it was light blue in color. On my first day, I met 2 Chinese boys – both were 3 years my senior.
The first boy, I don’t actually remember his exact name but, all the kids in that bus called him Huweweh. He was a tall and tough kid. The second one was Ronnie. (no, this is not the same BOD Ronnie). Ronnie was skinny, fair and nerdy type that was born to be bullied. I could tell back then that Huweweh was sort of like his boss or something.
On that first day on the bus, I also had my first bully experience. No I was not being bullied, but bullied the others instead. There was an Indian kid who tried to tease the way I styled my hair and I almost pummeled him – which got him real freaked.
Huweweh and Ronnie were quite impressed with my toughness, and we quickly became very close friends on the first day itself. No we’re not gay. It was a guy thing and they sort of like recruiting new badass members to be able to stand up against the myriad numbers of Indian kids inside the school bus.
We chatted a lot and they shared a lot of their past experiences with me. How they constantly got into fights with those Indian kids, shits like that. Then they mentioned of a very influential name – tonghai (a name which I found hard to register into my 7 year old brain). Both Huweweh and Ronnie kinda admired this guy for some reasons.
He was being portrayed like a god and they kept telling me how tall this guy was and how he managed to whack the Indian kids and flung them around like ragdolls (it was rumored that he could take a few Indian kids single handedly without problem)..
Cool ! When can I meet this guy? – I said, still couldn’t register his name. Huweweh told me tonghai wasn’t in the school bus because he was in year 2 (8 years old) and was in the morning session (we’re in the afternoon). So, I would have to wait 2 more years before I get to meet him (because I will be in year 2 the next year, session conflict). Well, fine. Our paths will soon cross – I thought.
A couple weeks later, when we were waiting for our bus below our residential flats, suddenly, Huweweh and Ronnie ran frantically towards the edge of the traffic. They jumped up and down in a very excited manner and shouted “tonghai !!!! tonghai !!!! ” … while waving excitedly to someone across the road. Yeah, it was the great tonghai himself – I saw him jumping up and down across the road waving back at Huweweh and Ronnie. He just got home from school (the time when we afternoon boys was going to school)
Not wanting to miss the chance to meet the great guy, I did the jump and wave thing like the 2 of them. But I faced a problem. I could not exactly remember his name tonghai. So, I did the next logical thing – instead of shouting his name, I shouted “Kau Sai !!!” (which means, dog poo in hokkien). “Kau Sai !!! Kau Sai !!!” I shouted and waved. (that’s because I thought they were yelling ‘kau sai’)
It kinda startled both Huweweh and Ronnie. They stopped to look at me with this absolute agitation.
“Hey ! His name is not kau sai… it’s tonghai, ok?” Huweweh exclaimed.
“Whatever man. It rhymes, and sounded almost the same. He’s not going to be able to tell the difference.” and I continued to shout Kau Sai while waving.
tonghai, being so far from us, of course could not tell that I was calling him DOG POO from across the street. If he could, I would been turned into a meatball. Instead, he excitedly waved back. That dumbfuck didn’t even know me… hahah.. goddamn it. That was how I met another friend – tonghai.
*I had plenty of insane adventures inside the school bus till I was 14. I will write more about the experience under the title “school bus – [something]“.