On Thursday night, we were all told to put on our full celoreng outfit and line up outside Kolej D’s urusetia building. We were then divided into eight groups – the wira and wirawati of Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta.
We were told to do some drilling, which was basically just standing at attention, at ease, and right dress. It got monotonous after a while, and we groaned, Enough already! Nizam just replied with his usual, Ah-ha, korang nak tepuk lalat? (NO.)
They told us that we would later be called back to line up in front of the urusetia, to be re-issued our combat belts. We were also told that there might not be enough belts, so it’d be first come, first served.
So we went back up to our dorms, while the Alpha boys stayed behind and were punished to run around the urusetia building, one by one. Because someone’s handphone had been stolen. That’s how it is. Just one (unknown) thief, and the whole block gets punished. And you’re not even sure that the thief is from that block, or company.
Not 10 minutes had gone by when they called us back down to line up.
The facilitators announced to us the departure times (Local areas on Saturday, and Semenanjung on early Sunday morning.) and also times that our rooms would be checked, and when we had to line up. For me, my schedule was to have room checking at 6:00 am, to make sure everything was in order and nothing was broken. Then to line up at 7:00 am, board the bus at 8:00 am, and arrive at my local police station at 9:30 am.
And then they distributed the belts. There was enough for everyone, I think.
Next morning, we were told to line up in front of Kolej D’s urusetia office at 8:30 am, wearing our sports uniforms. Rehearsed the closing ceremony until 11:00 am, which was ridiculous. Most of the time, all we did was stand and listen to the soldiers bark instructions at us on how to behave. Some girls started passing out, and some boys ran out of line to rest in the shade because they felt like throwing up.
I switched places with a friend, so that I would be allowed not to raise my hands during doa selamat. I’m now in the second row, and my friend is in the first. While rehearsing the doa selamat, pretty much everyone was hissing at me to raise my hands, but I played deaf and remained at attention.
Fortunately, after that we were given rest until 2:30 pm – after which we were told to line up at the urusetia again. Full celoreng. And then we boarded the buses to the stadium for the closing ceremony.
The program was supposed to start at 3:00 pm, and we marched onto the field at 3:00 pm sharp. (We had been there since 2:30 pm, by the way.) So much for being punctual. We stood there under the blazing sun until 4:20 pm, waiting for YAB Datuk Musa Haji Aman. The whole time, we were standing at ease, and not allowed to sit or budge from our position. Naturally, we cursed, “Jangan haraplah saya mau undi ni YB lain kali! Jangan undi keturunan dia pun! Kenapa bah ni, lambat betul … si Musa ni, cirit-birit kah?!”
Girls started fainting, of course. A bit too many. We had no water, because we had been forbidden to bring water bottles onto the field. One girl in my Khidmat Komuniti group whispered to us that she was feeling faint, and another went to a faci to ask for help to carry her out. The reply we got was, “Kita tunggu dia jatuh dulu, baru kita angkat dia keluar.” We were furious at this, but had to obey him. And when she finally fell, they didn’t help us at all. We did everything, from taking off her beret and belt and carrying her out. The facis and soldiers didn’t even notice, or pretended not to.
Our Khidmat Komuniti facilitators left their seats on the bleachers to buy us bottles of water (with their own money, I think), and ran onfield to give us the bottles. An announcement quickly came over the PA system, forbidding anyone from coming onto the field. So only a few of us got water. The rest of us had to cope with dehydration, and plenty started fainting, getting dizzy, and had to be helped off the field.
Finally, Musa showed up – wearing a celoreng outfit. Just like us. We thought it looked weird on him. Anyway. When the program finally started, the only good speech was the first one, by the university chancellor’s representative. Musa’s speech was boring – things we already knew, or couldn’t be bothered to know. Things such as what the physical/kenegaraan /pembinaan karakter/khidmat komuniti modules are about, what we do, what the mission and objective is, what the government planned and plans for Khidmat Negara, etc., etc.
And after Musa’s speech ended, Khidmat Negara was officially over for us, the 1st Intake! The MC then announced that he would be going to a special tea break prepared for him, but we didn’t care about him anymore. Never did care, actually.
We screamed with laughter, snapped pictures, hugged each other, cried, waved hands at the audience, and threw our berets in the air. We shouted our respective camps’ cheers and yells, sang a few lines of the Khidmat Negara song (for some unknown reason…). Some tried to be funny and sang, “Kami anak-anak Indonesia” instead of “Kami anak-anak Malaysia”.
After that, we then went to meet our families and friends. Took endless pictures. And suddenly at 6:00 pm, even with our families still there, the soldiers started blowing their whistles and yelling, OK, trainees, walk back to your dorms. Yes, that’s right, walk – no buses.
As I left the stadium, I saw boxes and boxes of water bottles arranged at a corner of the stadium. I was told that the bottles had been supposed to be for us trainees, while standing onfield during the closing ceremony. Funny why they never did distribute the water.
Nighttime – Kolej A had a formal farewell party at DKP. Kolej D didn’t. All we did was have a re-briefing of our departure schedules, and return our celoreng.
Ah. The returning of the celoreng. At 8:00 pm, we gathered (again!!) in front of the urusetia. Soldiers yelled at us that if anything was missing, we’d have to pay. RM 40 for the shirt, RM 30 for the pants, RM 5 for the beret, and RM 200 for the boots. I’m not sure if he was telling the truth or not.
Boys first. We girls sat right in the middle of the road until 10:30 pm, waiting for our turn. And when our turn finally came, we crammed like sardines onto the three buses available.
The Logistics building was just … ridiculous. Only one counter available, and seemingly only one light bulb was switched on. No street lights, nothing. Everything in complete darkness except for the dim counter. And everyone yelling and cramming, trying to return their celoreng. And the system was terrible. A soldier would yell out a name from his record book, but of course his voice would be drowned out.
We shouted, Never mind the names, just let us return the packages and write our names on a piece of paper! We kept shouting, and the soldier scratched his head, and pulled out a cigarette, started fumbling with a lighter. We yelled, Oi, tabiat kotor, filthy habit! And he grinned, covered up his habit by tucking it behind his ear. “Mana ada saya merokok!” he said. But we all knew it was his nervous-and-confused reflex anyway.
The soldiers refused to use the system we suggested, and a trainee said, Bagus lagi di Ovai dulu, senang lagi sistem kami! The soldiers went berserk and shouted, Kau diam! Kami sudah satu hari tidak makan, tadi pagi Kolej A kasi balik celoreng, kalau kamu tidak puas hati, baliklah pergi Papar!
And so that system stayed. I got back to Kolej D at 11:30 pm, hot and tired. Even so, I was lucky to be among the first names called.
At the college, couples dated until 12:00 am, when the soldiers started zooming around on their motorcycles, Semua pelatih, masuk ke bilik – kecuali Blok G! (Someone’s handphone had been stolen.) I’m quite sure that everyone in Blok G had to line up for a long, long time.
There was no proper farewell ceremony, of course. So 10 of us girls who had been campmates back in physical camp, got together for our own ceremony until 2:00 am. We took turns talking about each other, how sad we were to be leaving them, keep in touch, don’t forget me, I’ll never forget you. My Selangor friend said between tears, “Kite rase, kite ni bukan setakat kawan je – macam keluarga. Kalau boleh, kite tak nak balik langsung.”
This I know is true – we all felt the same way, too.