The radio alarm goes off at 545am. I rub my eyes, mind quickly reviewing the lucid dream I just had but the images and sounds that filled my mind have already dissolved away. My body aches like mad from the previous day’s water training but it’s time to get ready for school and I drag my feet to the bathroom.
Sometimes, I don’t switch on the bathroom lights. It’s a hangover from a few years ago when the acne got so bad, it wasn’t fun looking into the mirror the first thing in the morning. Breakfast usually isn’t on the menu, I’d wait till recess time about 945am to get my nutrition.
Stepping out of the lift, I walk towards the bus-stop. In ten years time, Braddell Road would be widened considerably to accomodate a new flyover, but I wouldn’t know that today, would I? It’s a silent walk to the overheard bridge and I plug in my earphones as I see the fat rat doing its morning run ahead of my path.
I can’t afford a Discman and cassette tapes are a real hassle, so I’m using my little digital radio that has good reception save the Lornie Road part of the journey where static can drive you nuts. Everyone listens to 98.7FM or 95FM in the morning, the songs that come on before 630am are usually the best retro hits. My favourite is Cowboys and Angels by George Michael, it’s always poignant to walk in the near dark as the piano portion comes on.
Going to ACJC in the morning is never fun. First, you’d have two chances to catch bus number 157 between 625 and 640am and you can be assured it’s going to be packed already. There’s always a mix of Chinese High, Nanyang Girls and Hwa Chong students.
Then you have this botak Hwa Chong guy on the bus who keeps flexing his big biceps as if I was a threat to his manhood.
He probably belongs to the chess club anyway.
I look around for "NG" (Nanyang Girl) who was always a key perk-up in the mornings between 1991 and 1992 because she was quite the looker, but it seemed that she has either moved away from Bishan or taken another route to her JC. Last I saw her, she had gone to National JC instead of Hwa Chong as most Nanyang Girls are wont to do.
Finally, the bus reaches Sixth Avenue and the ACJC students hop off, walking towards the Guthrie House bus-stop where we’ll wait for bus no. 200. Now that bus was a real pain. Miss that particular one about 650am and you’re confirmed late for school. Sometimes I get to meet Dom on the bus, and we’d talk about life in dragonboating.
Other times, it’s quite a lonely ride to school because none of my other classmates take the bus. (Come think of it, most of them didn’t take public transport). I take the opportunity to enjoy the cool morning breeze through an open window.
Finally, ACJC is in sight. I walk briskly towards the old stone table underneath a big tree that overlooks the running track. Most of the team is there…Eileen, Derek, Shikin, Sze Wee, Weizheng…the usual morning banter is tossed around, and as usual, someone is copying someone else’s homework. With canoeists, getting your homework done on time was usually no-go given our crazy schedules.
It’s still early, the team hasn’t gotten into the mood to gossip yet but that’ll come during recess period when everyone’s a bit more awake. The school bell rings and we assemble in rows according to our classes. As always, I stand behind the row, and give a friendly poke to Zhenyao who is in 1SB8, located next to our 1SC1 class.
We stand there with grins on our face. Life is tough, with so much homework and tough training to deal with everyday, but who cares? We’ve got each other to lean on, and the wheels of life have yet to turn for our young lives.
For today, it’s good just to breathe the fresh morning air on the ACJC school grounds.