Thank you Google. Today I just found out that my dear old friend’s name was Che Sepachendera.
She was around 90 years old when I first saw her. I was around 6 at that time. She was old, but never frail. We bonded up pretty fast, and she became my bestfriend ever since... until I said goodbye to her when we moved out when I was 15.
You see, my family used to live in a teacher’s quarters on a school compound. Most who lived in the quarters (7 families altogether) were either working in Pejabat Pelajaran or teachers elsewhere. Like my AYAH, who taught in SAHC/KSAH from 1/6/1968 - 31/12/1980. The house that we lived in was a small one-story semi-d. There was a small river behind my house. It was located in the compound of Sekolah Rendah Tunku Abdul Halim, Kampung Baru, Alor Setar - an all-boys primary school. The whole area was fenced up in a 7-8 feet of brick wall.
And Che Sepachendera was my neighbor. The oldest one there, but no doubt the strongest one of the lot. She’d never fail me. She’d be there for me, rain or shine. I'd spend my time with her almost everyday. I adored her so much but I never bothered to know her name then. So ignorant of me.
My sister, brothers, girlfriends, boyfriends and I used to play with her all the time. We’d walk around her, hugging her all the way until we made one complete round. We’d sing songs, play hide-and-seek and tell ghost stories when we were with her. Somehow with her, the ghost stories seemed so real. I guess it was because she was old, and ghost stories went extra-ummph with her around.
I remember one enormous tree in the compound. A Pokok Pukul Lima -which was really humungous. We were told that the tree was hundreds of years old. The roots were so large and protruding that we loved to play on them all the time. On school days, the SRTAH boys would even climb up that tree!
We used to play in our big compound which I think had 5 buildings for classrooms, one canteen, one building for outdoor toilets, a covered space for bicycles/cars, two badminton courts, one big field, two small fields, long/high-jump sand-pit, enormous trees and some climbing areas - where we could play rounders, toi (galah panjang), roller skates, hide and seek, police and thieves, buaya-katak, lumba lari, batu tujuh, jengkek, and many other made-up games.. or simply lazing around.
Oh how I missed those days... when your mind was free and you had nothing to worry about. You laughed, played and played and only came home when it was Maghrib or when your mom called out for you.
And in all those times, this old friend of mine would watch out for us. I knew then that she also watched out for the hundreds of SRTAH boys, whom I believe worshipped her too.
That was my Che Sepachendera....
Istana Che Sepachendera to be exact.
Pictures taken from here, TQ:) This is the short write-up on her :
"The Sepachendera Palace was an old palace situated at Jalan Kampung Baru, Alor Star, also known as 'Istana Kampung Baru'. This palace was built by the late Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah in 1882 for his first wife, Che Sepachendera upon his ascension to the royal throne. The architectural design of the palace has the influence of Thai architecture".
And I found an entry on her by Kotastar. TQ Pak Non :)
I cried when I first saw the pictures. There she was, looking so old and lonely... and beckoning me. Oh, how I missed her!