The Day 5 A.M Arrived Early

1984

“Bandi…”, a voice was heard in the darkness “wake up. It’s time!”

Half groggy, I looked up to see my cousins ….literally my sisters looking excitable – 10 year old Emilda and soon to be 15 year old Era gazing down at me.

“What time is it?!”, I had asked.

“5 a.m”

They were already in school uniform and costume, ready for the big day. I grabbed my alarm clock next to my bed. The digits showed an unkindly 2 a.m.

“It’s 2 in the morning!”, I muttered.

“But…your Game-and-Watch in our room showed 5 a.m…”, Emilda’s eyes looked big to me expressing her defiance.

I got up – half dragging my 12 year old self to their room. And sure enough, the game console showed 5 a.m. I picked it up and pressed a button.

“That…”, I said “was the alarm screen…”

I showed them the screen where it displayed the real time.

“Its 2 a.m, girls!”

Laughter.

… which was a bit creepy, now that I think about it…in the darkness – seemingly disembodied voices giggling in the middle of the night.

Apparently in their excitement for the big day, they had misread the console, thought that it was already 5 am and had readied themselves in the wee hours of the morning! And no one had bothered to check with the wall clock.

I went back to my room, intent on catching up on my sleep. Behind me, the girls were still laughing.

We reawakened a few hours later at the “real” 5 a.m and had breakfast with somewhat sheepish smiles.

That morning, the whole of Brunei seemingly went to town – or rather to the National Stadium in an event filled with pomp and grandeur.

It was the 23rd of February 1984 – Brunei’s first National/Independence Day.

However for 3 children, it was also a day when 5 a.m arrived early.

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Subandi Kamis

Subandi Kamis

Navigating life a story at a time.

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