As I made my way into Hospital Kuala Lumpur ccompound, on my way to visit a staff who was warded for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the tongue, my mind suddenly flashed back to one evening in 1971, in Sultan hostel SDAR Tanjung Malim.
I was awakened from my usual after-lunch siesta by loud noises from below. I got up and leaned against the window to see what the commotion was all about.
It was high jump practice! They were practising their jumps for the coming school sports day.
Being an avid high jump enthusiast and quite a good jumper myself, I immediately put on my short and sneakers and went straight to the high jump ground.
The bar was at 4 ft 10 inches. I asked it to be raised to 5 ft even. Then I jumped. As soon as my left leg pushed the ground as I tried to scissor-kicked my body over the bar I heard a loud cracking sound.
Then I fell down just short of the bar.
Still holding my fast swollen knee, I asked the crowd: "Who threw the wood?"
"What wood? There's no wood. You've broken your leg!" Mr Leonard Wee, our PE teacher explained.
He crouched besides me and asked me to push my leg against his palm. I couldn't. It was very painful even to flex it, let alone push.
The knee quickly swelled and was intensely painful.
I was brought to Tanjung Malim Hospital. From there I was rushed to KLGH early the next morning.
There was no time to prepare for personal things. I was still in the track bottom I was wearing since yesterday.
I also did not bring any cash with me.
And so began my one-month ordeal in KLGH.
That night I was trolleyed into the operation room. Everything after that was blurry, probably due to the effect of the anaesthetics they administered to me.
All that I could remember was that they syringed out blood from my knee. Then I passed out.
When I woke up I saw my entire left leg was in plaster cast - from the foot right up to the thigh!
Because of thet I was immobile throughout my stay in KLGH.
No one from the school ever visited me. It really surprised me - as if no one had realized that I was not in school.
I was realy in a sorry state. Imagine lying down on the hosspital bed almost penniless and with not even a soul visiting me.
Because of my immobility (strange that they did not provide crutches then), believe it or not, I did not go to the toilet for my entire stay in the ward - that was more than a month!
Also, it was sad to see visitors came and visitors went, no one ever took the trouble to ask what was wrong with me and if I needed any help. Only an old Chinese gentleman understood what was going on inside me then.
He befriended me and graciously shared fruits and cookies his children brought with me.
After KLGH continued my ward stay in TM hospital. My leg continued to be in plaster cast for many months.
Because of that I had to miss most of my form four.
I remember taking a train ride with Ripin from Tanjung Malim to Kuala Kerai during the second term school holidays.
It was tough as I still could not bend my knee then.
Ripin's family members were real angels. They gave me floral baths to bring back my spirits.
"Dr Azahar, we're here."
"We've arrived?" I asked Azlan breaking my daydream.