Okay.....I think I was 10 or 11yrs old then. My kampung gang, mainly consists of me, 2 brothers living next door and their fat cousin, usually played together after school. We'd take turns riding the bicycle my cousin Doreen bought, play tag, catch spider, catch guppies in the drains, soccer (which I hated), hide and seek, imagination game and made wooden guns. The brothers' mom worked for CK Tang department store and always brought home the latest toys and board games. Especially loved playing with their set of PlayMobile in the sand.
One day, we had permission to go swimming at Buona Vista Swimming Complex. So we took the public bus and paid 20cents each for the fare. Back then, the buses had conductors on board to give us change, punch a hole on the ticket tab and alert the driver when it was safe to move on after passengers alighted. And most of the buses were usually quite beat-up. The seats were stained, the floor dirty, windows could not be opened properly and some had no doors!
At the swimming complex, we goofed around in the wading pool and then proceeded to the shallow end of the deep pool. Then someone had an idea of pretending to be drowning and we'll have a rescue team to save him. Maybe it was me....maybe it was one of the brothers idea...Fat boy volunteered to be the 'victim', afterall, he can't swim so we thought he was the ideal candidate. We decided that the shallow end was too shallow for the scenario so we waded to the part where we could barely touch the bottom standing up. And so it started....fat boy started flapping his arms around pretending to be drowning. The brothers and I swam towards him. He was maybe 2-3 meters away from the side of the pool. I thought it couldn't be too hard to save him. Afterall, I've seen how lifeguards save their victims so many times on TV. Just put one arm around his chin and drag him to the side.
It was harder than I thought! Fat boy didn't seem to budge. He was still flapping and this time he was really struggling. The 2 boys gave up as they became too tired and tried to swim back. I was getting tired too. Somehow, I could not feel the bottom of the pool eventhough I tiptoed. Fat boy was tugging my arms and I couldn't tread water and stay afloat anymore. I was exhausted by now and struggling as well. Next, I did what a survivor would do. I used fat boy as a support and pushed him into the water so I could take a quick breather! Yes, I am ashamed of myself for doing that. Fortunately, the brothers and I managed to link our arms together and pulled fat boy to safety. Fat boy was mad at me and complained that he drank a lot of water.
Whenever I think about this incident, I shudder at the thought if fat boy was drown by me.... I know kids being kids will do stupid things for fun. Therefore I try to be vigilant whenever my boys go swimming.
Anyway, after our adventure at the pool, we headed for the bus-stop to return home. We didn't have small change after paying for our snacks so we decided to use our last $1 note to buy four 20cents tickets for our bus ride. I was in-charged and supposed to return someone 20cents after that.
When our bus arrived, we felt so lucky that it was a brand new bus. The exterior looked clean and shiny, the door was intact and folded to the side smoothly. We boarded the bus and the driver pointed at a transparent box near the door next to him. Huh?? was my thought. He then said to drop our money into the box for the fare. I dropped our only $1 note in and the driver punched in a few keys on the dashboard and voila! Four 20cents tickets dropped out from another box. We were amazed at the new ticket machine and flopped onto our clean seats with smiles on our faces. Then one of the brothers asked me for his 2ocents change. I didn't get any so I walked back to the driver and asked for it. He stared at me and shouted, "Aiyah, you never see the sign meh? This is OMO bus! No change!". Imagine our shocked when we realised our 20cents were gone just like that. Back then, 20cents could buy us a packet of twisty snack. I still remember the boys grumbling that it was all my fault. Later we learned that OMO stands for one-man-operation. And we thought we were lucky to sit in a new bus!