From Kuala Kangsar to the UN and Kesington - Abdullah Ahmad

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Two or three knew what they wanted: I always wanted to be a journalist and I did become one before moving into politics, the late Ariffin Muds wanted to be an army officer, achieving the rank of colonel in the Royal Signals, and had he not died young - as our military attache in Jakarta in the late 1980s - he would have become, at least, a two-star general if not higher for he was not only intelligent and able, he was also a clubbable sort.

Syed Zainal Hussein Wafa had always wanted to minister to the sick and he became a doctor, and then an academician until he retired five years ago from the Teaching Hospital of University Kebangsaan Malaysia. He is now practising in Pulau Langkawi. Abdullah Bakri and Razak Hitam, two clever students, ended up as architects. Razak Hitam was an all-rounder and today he goes all over the world playing golf, having made enough money to do what he likes best.

Several of the 1954 class wear designer suits (albeit some with protruding stomachs", diamond-studded cufflinks and Colombian emerald rings! I cannot for certain swear that none has two wives although, at least, three have not been very lucky in love. Ariffin married Tina, a Swiss air stewardess and ended in a divorce. He subsequently married a Malay girl who I understand is still lovestruck and deeply mourns his sudden death. Syed Zainal who was separated from his Irish wife, refound love and is now married to his old sweetheart from his hometown (Kuala Kangsar).

One remained a bachelor all his life. Anuar Yahya was a good hockey player and an above-average student. He lived with his parents at Jalan Damai until he died several years ago. Razak Bahaman, an engineer, has a well-trimmed grey moustache and beard. Bakar (Buku) Mahmud, was the Director-General of Agriculture. He now only drinks fruit juices and mineral water after becoming a teetotaller. Until two years ago he was "our man" in Taipeh.

The remaining 19 of us are either in our very late fifties or just past 60, like me. Most of us - well, I had anyway suffered trials and tribulations on the way up. Some have found contentment in retirement even though not all drive Jaguars, live in Bukit Tunku or in luxurious condominiums in Ampang Hilir, or own yachts, jets and pedigree racing and Argentinean thoroughbred polo horses as several older and many younger "old" boys do.

Once the employment prospects of all MCKK graduates were excellent; in an earlier age, jobs were guaranteed. The message for those still at MCKK and the recent leavers is: none of us had the humiliating experience of being unemployed or ever had any difficulty securing jobs. Our youthful dreams of riches and fame might not have been fully achieved, however, none suffered the worse for it.

Our alma mater has changed and is changing because time changes. Time completely governs all our lives - from the minute we are born until we die we are its slaves. All we can do is to keep pace with it and seize the opportunity it creates.

We hope we will be left in peace in our autumn years to the moment we take our last breath - and thence to heavens or wherever - to enjoy our retirement and to pursue our interests and hobbies.

Dato'Abdullah Ahmad is Malaysia's Special Envoy to the United Nations

(This article has been reproduced with the kind permission of SUN )