The Kolej Tun Datuk Tuanku Haji Bujang Year 1975-1976 Reunion held from January 23-25 last year was hailed by those who attended it as the best reunion ever. And some of the spillovers from that reunion are nothing short of amazing.
Fellow college mates and teachers attended the reunion with a sense of nostalgia. And for some, there was also a sense of what might have been and a sense of missed opportunities as they ponder on the two years spent at the college. There’s something beguiling about school reunions.
Memories of the college seem to achieve an almost mystical glow after 40 years. We remember vividly the refectory food, life in the hostels, the teachers, the principals, the naughty pranks, the many campus romances, and the night preps. We reflect on people we were crazy about and some we weren’t so crazy about. At the reunion, a lot of time was spent looking at name tags and asking “Awak siapa?” as we have all aged and undergone a fair amount of “transformation”. Some have transformed so much that they are unrecognisable!
One of the spillovers of the reunion was the reconnection of old friends. The theme for the reunion was “Old Friends New Connections.” The reunion really lived up to that theme when long-lost friends re-established connections and old friendships were rekindled. And we see college mates having so many post-reunion gatherings in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Miri and Sibu as well as in some smaller towns and even in Australia.
After the reunion, a few college mates mooted the idea of starting an NGO to reach out to the less fortunate. After much deliberation, it was decided to go ahead with the registration of the NGO aptly named Pertubuhan Pendidikan Berdikari Bersamuku Sarawak or StandByMe Sarawak Society in English. The focus of the NGO is education. On 4th July last year, the Registrar of Societies approved the registration and StandByMe Sarawak was born. Kudos to all the college mates who spent so much time to get this NGO off the ground!
My college mate Kenny Goh Kiat Tze deserves a big thank you for his contribution of RM50,000 to kick-start the NGO. He also contributed a big sum to the reunion funds last year. A big thank you also to all the college mates who have opt for life membership in the NGO . Your support will contribute greatly to the success of the NGO.
The organising committee of the college reunion had promised to do something for the college. Initially the committee had intended to carry out a covered walkway project but after all the cost estimates were in, the idea had to be shelved as it was too costly. The organising committee has just decided to gift a lumpsum to the college and donate the balance from the reunion leftover funds to the StandByMe Sarawak Society since this NGO was the fruit of the reunion.
I believe this is the first time in Malaysian history that a school reunion gave birth to an NGO. Once again, a very big thank you to the pro tem committee of the NGO for a job well done!
A heart-warming tale has just emerged recently arising from the spillover effect of the reunion. On the night of the gala reunion dinner, a college mate was seated at the same table as a lady doctor. Though he never talked to the doctor during college days, he was smitten by her during the reunion dinner but since this was a chance encounter after so many years, he did not dare to act too impulsively. But it was synchronicity at its best!
I am talking about Yusup Murang and Dr Dora Taja.
Yusup’s wife was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in November 2013. She went through 3 major surgeries followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Over a period of 16 months she was hospitalised in a few hospitals in KL but sadly she passed on peacefully on 27th February 2015.
Yusup was hesitant to make his first move as he was not sure whether Dora would accept him and consider remarriage. Back in Kuala Lumpur after the reunion, he did background research on Dora and found out that Dora has gone through even more traumatic experiences, losing her beloved hubby and her third daughter. Her hubby had a brain haemorrhage and was in a coma for two days before succumbing to the haemorrhage on 31st July 2007. It happened so suddenly that Dora was completely devastated but God has given her the strength to carry on taking care of her family. On 18th January 2013, Dora’s third daughter succumbed to her leukemia.
Yusup empathised with what Dora went through. Plucking up his courage, he started exchanging messages with her. His first chance to get closer to her arose when he went to Kuching around Chinese New Year time in 2016 to attend the wedding of his nephew. He invited Dora out for dinner but was told by Dora that it was not possible as she had family commitments. Refusing to take no as the answer, he asked her to join him for breakfast or lunch. During lunch Yusup posed the important question.Dora was shocked and did not give an answer immediately but Dora asked Yusup whether he would like to drive her and her cousin-in-laws to her Bidayuh in-laws’ kampong. Yusup jumped at the opportunity to get closer with Dora. Yusup knew in his heart that the answer would be a YES as they subsequently exchanged romantic messages and the romance blossomed.
To gauge the reactions of his children, Yusup informed his children that he was dating Dora when Dora came to KL at the end of March 2016 for a business conference which Yusup also happened to attend. His children asked him 10 plus relevant questions and gave their blessings. Dora’s family and cousins knew about their marriage plan towards the end Dec 2016 . When Yusup informed his in-laws in January 2017 about his romance with Dora, they also encouraged him and gave their blessings for him to remarry. Dora and Yusup tied the knots on 19th April last week.
I believe that Dora and Yusup are a perfect match. Dora is a doctor who has a very caring streak in her character. Yusup has a heart of gold and has donated a total of 226 pints of blood from 1977 to date. God bless him!
Both Dora and Yusup are devout Christians. Maybe it was divine intervention that they were seated at the same table during the reunion!
The college reunion was not only the best and the grandest but it has also created amazing spillovers. It is little wonder that a lot of college mates are asking about the next reunion. Hmmmm…….hoping for reunimance (reunion+romance) or making up for lost opportunities?