“Wah, ini kad sudah lima tahun wo…(wah, this card is five years old..)” said the Mak Cik Guard as I handed in my matric card, signifying my last day as a UTP student. I wanted to keep it for memory’s sake but they wouldn’t let me. I had to hand in to get a clearance endorsement (one of the many other seven departments).
And as I stood there while waiting for her to endorse my form, all 7 minutes of it, it finally hit me that I’m really leaving for good. For the past five years, I have packed and unpacked, signed clearance forms for the hostels I’ve stayed and somehow the process seemed never-ending. But this time, this time…
“Jom kite pakai baju raya buat final exam! (Let’s wear our Raya clothes to sit for our finals!)” one of my coursemates suggested at our Google group and I found myself laughing upon reading his message. Nobody liked this subject that we were taking, it was one of those extra compulsory subjects that extended our stay in campus. It was a new subject, there were no past year papers to give us an inkling of how it was going to be like. The days of mugging were coming to an end, and my coursemates, in their Raya mood, wanted to end it with a bang.
The moment the clock struck 5.30pm, everyone was restless. The paper was tricky, and it wasn’t easy – but all of us knew that it was over. That final paper marks the final haul of our degree life.
“Mai tangkap gambak semue!!! (Everybody, let’s take a picture!)” A tripod was set up, the camera with wide-angle lens was mounted and everyone gathered efficiently. All it took was a split second of the shutter to emboss a memory of a lifetime in our hearts.
“Hi, I’d like to graduate, please,” I chirped as I handed in my clearance form for its final endorsement from the Exam Unit. The lady smiled upon my comment and teased, “Are you sure you’re graduating?” making me laugh nervously as I thought about my less-than-impressive performance of my final paper. She asked me to drop my form into the box on the right and they will take care of it, this was the last station and I was to submit my form here anyway.
That’s it? I thought. Just drop the form in there and I’m ready to go? She must’ve noticed the puzzled look on my face, and added, “Don’t worry, we’ll endorse that form afterwards. Many more students coming in anyway.” I smiled politely and made my way out. As I was halfway through the door, I looked back and asked again,
“You’ll endorse it, right?”
“Hello, Wei Vern, come in. I assume you’ve heard the good news? Your work has been accepted to a conference in Bali.”
“Yes, Dr. So, who will be presenting it?” I guess I was silently hoping for a free holiday.
“I will present it on your behalf. I do hope you will consider doing your Masters here. You’ve built a very solid foundation in nanotech research with your final year project.”
“We’ll see what my sponsors have in store for me. Who knows, if things turn around I might consider your offer.” I replied politely. It was nice to know my research has been appreciated, but this time, I really needed a break. I was there to hand in my final hardbound copies of my report. After expressing my gratitude and exchanging goodbyes and well wishes, it was time to go.
As I walked slowly back to my room, for the first time the pace was slow. I realized that in these 5 years, I’ve always been walking fast paced to classes and meetings. And this time, I was just taking my own sweet time, capturing mental images of the impressive academic building as I went along. Truly, UTP is gorgeous. She has her flaws in her own ways, but no one can deny that this was a world-class structure, in a class of its own.
Oh, and there’s always something not working, I chuckled to my thoughts as I walked past the broken elevator at Pocket C.
As I was just a few steps away from leaving the Academic Complex, I turned around and looked at it for one last time. Not bothered if anyone was watching, I took a final bow, like a closing punchline to the last chapter of a book.
It’s almost time to write a new one.