Despite the rainy weather, I can feel the temperature rise as the 21st of October, 2016 approaches. This is the day of the Bicentenary, the 200th anniversary of Penang Free School, the day Old Frees are looking forward to the reunions that are going to take place on the school field in the evening.
This Bicentenary dinner is going to be BIG. It's going to be the Mother of all Reunions. No matter what year you were from during your schooldays at Free School, this anniversary dinner will be the Reunion of reunions and get-togethers. Many Old Frees from around the world are making it a point to return home for this special occasion.
The Mother of all Reunions will be a reunion that will be difficult to beat. Until, perhaps, in 50 years' time. But for now, this is the ultimate reunion. You have to be there to savour the occasion, soak in the ambience, enjoy the atmosphere. Can you afford to wait another 50 years for the Sestercentenary or 250th anniversary? Can you even afford to wait another 10 years to assemble again on the school field? I know that I cannot. Therefore, I've got to make the most of this occasion. It will not come round again; not in my lifetime.
But I do know that there are people who are bent on holding their own 200th anniversary dinner on the same evening in some other location in Penang, a hotel perhaps, far away from the School. They have their own reasons. But I have to ask them: is it the right thing to do? If we want to mark the Bicentenary with a reunion with our own peers, a reunion away from the School is not a proper Bicentenary reunion. We can have a reunion anytime; why hold it somewhere else when we should, by right, be holding it in the School. Anyone doing that will be missing the picture. Missing the BIG picture. Anyone doing that will miss the occasion. Anyone doing that will miss the bragging rights to say, "yes, I was there." If we are proud to be an Old Free, if we are proud that Penang Free School -- our Alma Mater -- is celebrating its Bicentenary, then the school field is the only place to be on the night of 21 October 2016.
If there is any dissatisfaction with anybody, please...do drop everything and return to the fold. Remember, nobody and nothing is bigger than our Alma Mater. The Penang Free School is OUR School; the place where we spent the happiest years of our lives among friends and peers. Don't let anything spoil the joy. Leave your egos at the school gate. Come back to where you belong. Where you rightfully belong. At Penang Free School. At the Mother of all Reunions.
Today, I was back at the Free School to look at the preparations taking place on the field. Work has already begun on constructing the canopies and platforms for 4,500 to 5,000 guests. Yes, that's about the total number of people -- Old Frees -- that are expected on 21st October night. What a sight it will be to see that many Old Frees of old ages mingling on the school field. Food will be secondary; friendship is paramount. I can imagine the camaraderie and reminiscences that will saturate the field. Everyone equal before everyone else's eyes. No Tan Sris on the field, no Datos on the field. Just plain Ahmad, Ah Chong and Muthu. Like during our good old schooldays.