“When I was in primary school, like most kids at the time, I was ferried to school by the bas sekolah. Our house was at the start of the road so I was the first kid to be picked up. I liked to sit right behind the driver so that I could chat with him. Uncle Nathan was a burly man with a stern face but he loved to tell jokes.

I would tell Uncle Nathan what Mak cooked the day before, my favourite scenes from the cartoons or what games I planned to play after school while he drove around the housing estates.

When we disembarked upon reaching school, he would remind us to take everything with us and to ‘listen to your cikgu’.

The other kids on the bus adored him as much as I did, even the naughtiest among us boys would listen whenever he spoke. Once, a group of older boys were played a rubber bands game on the bus. They would stretch a getah between two fingers, send it flying towards the girls’ heads and keep score. The one who got the least number of hits had to treat the others to aiskrim potong. One unlucky girl got hit in the eye because she turned around to speak to her friend just as a rubber band headed her way. She burst into tears and all the girls started shouting at the boys.

Uncle Nathan immediately stopped the bus to check on the poor girl. He then turned to the boys and in a firm voice, gave them a piece of his mind while they froze in their seats. We had never seen Uncle Nathan so angry. After that, no one dared to misbehave. We may get up to all sorts of mischief at home or at school but never on the bus.

I stopped taking the bas sekolah when I got to secondary school but I would still see Uncle Nathan whenever he dropped the younger kids off.

And he would still ask, ‘got listen to your cikgu or not?’”

Were you a bas sekolah kid? What were your best memories? Share in the comments section below!

Image above by Michael Coghlan from Flickr (Creative Commons License).