A promise made is a promise kept

It all started when I accompanied my teacher to the Tokoh Nilam zone level awards ceremony at Sekolah Seni Malaysia (SSeM) Kuala Lumpur in 2019.

Truth be told, I had never heard of the school before.

There I was, in my school uniform, carrying a small backpack, as my fingers fumbled nervously.

I never thought I’d make it this far – competing with other students from different schools. I drank some water and calmed myself down. “I can go through this,” I reassured myself, despite having represented my school in various competitions in the past.

As soon as I reached the school’s auditorium, I was shocked. I didn’t expect that many people to attend the event.

But my fears quickly vanished as I was welcomed by some seniors and teachers who encouraged me, saying “You can do this, girl!”

There were speeches and performances. I was entertained. Although I didn’t win a single prize that day, I was surprised by the school’s facilities and the hospitality of those who studied and taught there.

The school was spacious, modern, and beautiful. It looked like a university!

Some seniors spoke to me after the ceremony. They were a really friendly lot, and they took the time to tell me all about SSeM.

I soon learnt that the unique boarding school focuses on the arts and culture. I was excited. I wanted to study there.

A senior smiled and said, “Only the best are welcomed here. You have the potential since you came for this ceremony. You can join us. We’ll be waiting for you!” We pinkie-promised to meet two years later.

I aimed to get into this school and studied hard. Every time I felt exhausted and wanted to give up, the senior’s words “We’ll be waiting for you!” rang in my head.

I gave my best and scored 6As and 2Bs in my examinations. I thought I had made it but upon reading the requirements to enter SSeM, my heart sank. Only 50 of the best applications are accepted.

There will surely be many others who deserved to study in the school, I thought to myself. Yet, I decided to give it a try.

Encouraged by my mother, I signed up for an audition. It was a complicated process, but I was reminded of the promise I had made to the seniors.

I auditioned for the theatre category. It was among the four categories available – visual arts, dance, music, and theatre.

I didn’t expect to be accepted. I didn’t give my application much thought. Waiting for something almost impossible to happen was just a waste of time, I told myself.

Weeks later, I checked the status of my application and guess what? I was accepted!

All the hard work and effort I had put into the audition had paid off. I was overjoyed and shared the news with relatives and friends around me.

I couldn’t sleep that whole night. I was one of the 50 lucky students who got accepted.

I was so excited that the following day, I immediately started folding my clothes and packed my belongings.

Then I was told that my dad had tested positive for Covid-19. I was thunderstruck.

The mood in my house changed drastically as the family was worried about my father.

Throughout the 14-day quarantine period, I prayed with my family for my dad’s health. I also thought I wouldn’t make it to SSeM. Thankfully, my dear father made a full recovery.

After waiting impatiently for days that seemed like decades, April 4, 2021, finally arrived.

After getting dressed and eating breakfast, I immediately went to help my dad carry my suitcases to the car.

He drove us to the school. It was a cheerful drive. My mum’s advice and blessings rang constantly in my ears.

About half an hour later, we reached the school. A large banner that read ‘Welcome back to school, boys and girls!’ greeted us.

I was dropped off. With a heavy heart, I waved goodbye to dad as he drove away.

I was back in the same school I had visited two years ago – this time armed with bags filled with clothes, schoolbooks and even buckets.

After settling in, I walked around the school. There weren’t many people around as I was early. It was quiet.

Scenes of an 11-year-old me in the auditorium two years ago flashed in front of my eyes.

Everything looked the same.

Tears rolled down my cheeks. I wasn’t sad, just a tad emotional. It was as if SseM was a place I had not visited for a very long time.

Then, I saw them. The same seniors who told me that they were waiting for me.

I greeted them with a warm “Hi!”, hoping to get some recognition, but they didn’t reply.

They treated me like I was a new Form 1 student they had just met.

They also told me that these would be their last few days in the school as they had completed their studies. After a few words, they left. I never saw them again.

I guess they didn’t remember their conversation with me that changed my life.

More new students started coming in. Later, there was an orientation session by the Fifth formers.

The day went by quickly. I had dinner and went back to my room.

It was almost midnight, and everyone was sleeping soundly.

But I was on my bed, wide awake.

A silent breeze blew the curtains, accompanied by the sounds of insects from the bushes below.

I was to wake up to a brand new day – which would also be my first day of school. Familiar voices echoed in my head: “Only the best is welcomed here. You have the potential since you came here for the ceremony. You can join us. We’ll be waiting for you!”

I smiled.

As the saying goes, a promise made is a promise kept. I promised to come here, and I made myself a promise to stay and graduate from SSeM.

My watch beeped. It was midnight. My eyes felt heavy. It was time to sleep.

And just before I shut my eyes, I told myself that I was prepared for whatever that comes my way when I opened my eyes again to face a brand new day, in my new journey.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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