Kirkby’s Nostalgic Home Coming
By Chan Bing Fai (Kirkby 1952-1954)
On the 8th
August, 2007, two UPSI buses were waiting at the Wilayah Persekutuan Mosque in
Jalan Duta, K.L. to take a group of 50 Kirkby trained teachers to Tanjong Malim
to witness the official launch of the Tuanku Bainun Library and also the
official opening of the Exhibition on Kirkby College in the Universiti
Perdndikan Sultan Idris (UPSI). When the
Bringing Kirkby back home
was a logical proposition because it should be where your heart is. Even making
a pilgrimage back to the actual site where the College once stood would be
meaningless and futile because the College had been demolished to make way for
a new housing estate. Can anyone imagine that the place is now flourishing with
shops, boutiques and restaurants? Visiting the location alone would not bring
back those happy memories and feelings for the place. Kirkby was not about the
place. It was about people and their interactions. Establishing a college in
The choice of UPSI
formerly known as the
As we grow older we yearned to return to our roots to trace our ancestry to meet old friends and visit old haunts. In the case of Kirkby there was no ancestry so to speak because its existence was only transitory. Therefore, it had not sufficient time for deep seated roots to establish. However, it was there long enough to have adventitious roots like that of a bamboo. These roots appeared only at the knots representing the different batches of students.
So balik kampong now is
made so much simpler because you just need to make a visit to Gallery Kirkby in
What remained of Kirkby now is only a fading memory. I remember clearly the dreadful wintry mornings when I needed to drag myself out from bed after having tugged in for the very cold nights. Then dashing to the wash room to clean up and get dressed to begin another day. In winter the weather was often cheerless and dull. When it was 8.00 am it was still gloomy I hated it because it was cold, dreary and colourless. It was always damp and sloshy and I had to put on a heavy woollen overcoat to protect myself against the weather whenever I had to go out in the open. It was heavy and uncomfortable and also the absence of sunshine had a depressing effect on me.
I liked spring and it was worth remembering after enduring the harsh cold and gloomy winter. When crocuses appeared it was the 1st sign of spring. Then followed the daffodils and other spring flowers. I liked spring because it was young and refreshing. There was life, vitality and growth. Grass awakened from its sleep, tried to reach for the light. Buds everywhere learned to unfold and bloom into things of beauty. Birds came out of hibernation and soared high into the sky.
I liked summer too when
flowers were in full bloom to display their many and varied colours It had the
exuberance and vigour of youth. I like autumn best because leaves began to
change colours from green, yellow into gold and red. It spoke of abundance,
maturity and wisdom. And so the cycle of seasons came and went. When winter
returned could spring be far away? The beauty of living in
Despite Kirkby’s drab exterior it inspired me with a sense of tenacity and accomplishment. I hope every Kirkbian who passed through its postal will always be proud of being a true Kirkbian. Like every “emigrant” I long to return to my roots “Who am I?” when I returned to my “ancestral home” in Kampong Kirkby. “Whom do I identify with?” These questions are best left for future pundits to decide.