The old house at Bukit Kerajaan (Chandan Hill) has been deserted for many years since the 90’s. A derelict and unused piece of history left unattended on its own. A house up on the hill and for years deemed over the hill.
The house has gulped in a big breath of fresh air, like some frantic drowning thing breaking the water’s surface and gasping for life. It had sat unopened for so long, suffocating in the silence, its memories blanketed by a thick layer of dust and unkept in layers of undergrowth.
Many of Headmasters of MCKK had lived in this house since we were kids; it turns out later, many preferred to stay in Ipoh and later with the new HM quarters on the campus, this house was left unattended. This Olde HM’s House – especially this old and creaky house – a unit, somehow; its fronts and elevations are faces, its closets are pants pockets, and its floor trodden with stories and secrets being told. The signage “Kediaman Pengetua The Malay College Kuala Kangsar (The Residence of the Headmaster of the Malay College Kuala Kangsar) still stands proud.
Everyone who had set foot in its doors, had left a mark, an imprint, in its old walls covered by roof tiles of the old colonial days.
It was a mistake to think of houses, old houses, as being empty. They were filled with memories, with the faded echoes of voices. Drops of tears, drops of blood, the ring of laughter, the edge of tempers that had ebbed and flowed between the walls, into the walls, over the years.
Wasn’t it, after all, a kind of life for the Head of MCKK?
And there were houses, we knew it, that breathed. They carried in their wood and stone, their brick and mortar a kind of ego that was nearly, very nearly, human.
The reality is this old house that was built many years ago were built by actual craftsmen, people who were the best in the world at what they did. The little nuances in the woodwork, the framing of the doors, the built-in nooks, the windows – all had been done by smart, talented people, and I quickly found that uncovering those details and all of that character made the house more inviting and more attractive and more alive.
The MCKK on the Hill restoration is a project worth scraping away the dirt, and find his footprints, repainting it in new colours and putting it to good use as a Resource, Archives, Gallery and Activity (RAGA) Centre for the Kuala Kangsar community.
Kudos to the current HM, Cikgu Mohd Shahadan bin Abdul Rahman and team for making the extra effort to restore this old house to something worthwhile. Action speaks louder than words.
Action on behalf of life transforms. Because the relationship between self and this house is reciprocal, it is not a question of first getting enlightened or saved and then acting. As we work to heal this house together, the house heals us. The work of restoration cannot begin until a problem is fully faced. We work to solve those problems as a team.