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Freeze! The Song Is On!

Every morning, after sending the kids to school, I would wait a little for them to finish with the morning speech which consists mostly of ‘don’t do this’, ‘don’t do that’, ‘cut your hair’, ‘keep your handphones in the office’ and such. But there’s this rush once the teacher says, “OK, juniors can now go back to their classes”. You will see sleepy children trudging along. Some not-so-sleepy children poking each other, tugging at each others’ bags, or trying to topple the teachers…surreptitiously but good tries, nonetheless. Most of them are at the threshold of sluggish lethargy. It’s a Monday so, they’ve got this perennial right to be moody on a Monday as well, just like the rest of us. It’s not like we’re trying to avoid something but we always have to be on the lookout for that song. A song that would render you motionless, freezes you in your place…and if you don’t, you’ll earn yourself a scowl from the teachers in the school and if you’re really unlucky, the headmaster will walk up to you with a badgering lecture….telling you how disrespectful and a complete disgrace you are. This morning, Joshua’s not feeling too high in spirits because he’s been coughing up a storm all weekend. So, I had to get to the teacher and tell her that Joshua’s got a history of wheezing and a little asthma. The kids were all antsying along in their line up the stairs and into the classrooms. OK, I’ve got some time before that song comes on, I thought. But then the music came on….the trumpets and the loud marching band music came on….and you can, literally see that everyone slows down. On the stairs. In the toilet. On the chairs. Some stranded in a position that is classified as a mid-stand, mid-sit. Some are holding out books or money in the bookstore. A stream of students is frozen on their way to the classroom. The song is the NE-GA-RA-KU song….as soon as the teachers starts ‘mouthing’ (not a single decibel is coming out of their mouths, trust me) the words, no one is supposed to move, you see. Don’t you remember this well enough to know that if the wind as much as blew your hair, you’re in for detention? Or sent to collect rubbish from class to class. During my time, the worst I got was being sent to the padang to collect rubbish….which was great! Morning air blowing in my face and I get to kid around with the others who were in the same boat with me and we jostle each other all the way. But in this school, you get either time with the headmaster or detention. And I’m thirty-something….I don’t want detention. It’s really comical, really that we’re all to be FROZEN to the spot when a song is played….not out of respect or patriotism but out of fear of detention. Comical….

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