Mary and Peter were both in Form II then. That’s equivalent to the 8th grade in the U. S. system. Their school, Tak Shing Secondary School, was a coeducational institution in Yuen Long, Hong Kong. They were bright kids and they both placed within the top 10% in a class of 200 students. They kind of knew each other from Form I although they were in different classrooms and they never talked. This year they were put in the same room. Two months into the new year Mr. Choy, their physics teacher, randomly paired them together to work on a pulley project. That’s when they started to talk to each other and found out how smart the other person was.
The teacher’s instructions included the purchase of certain pulleys, wheels and strings from a hardware store. Mary said she probably could find a few of those parts from old toys from her older siblings and hers. Peter said he was thinking about the same thing with his cousins’ old trucks and game sets although his family did not have many toys. The next week they both had salvaged more than enough parts for their project. Mr. Choy, after examining their “junk” collection, was so impressed that he told the class that they should all do the same if they had not purchased anything from the local store yet. Their finished project was funky because it was made from unmatched wheels and pulleys, but it was scientifically correct and environmentally conscious, and with its many different colors, it almost looked like a naive and pleasant sculpture. It was showcased in the school’s end-of-year open house. Mr. Choy asked them afterward if he could keep it in his physics lab as an example for future kids. Mary was a little reluctant at first as she really wanted Peter to keep it. But since Peter said okay she acquiesced.
For the next few years in secondary school, Mary and Peter became very good friends. They spent most of their after-school hours doing homework in the library. Whenever there were group projects, they would ask the teachers to put them together. Since they were good students, they usually got what they wanted. Mary wanted to join the school band and play the saxophone in Form III (grade 9) and she asked Peter if he wanted to do it too. Peter said he was always interested in music but his parents wouldn’t be able to rent him an instrument, let alone to buy one. Mary offered to rent one for him using her spare money but Peter declined. So Mary went to talk to Mrs. Lo, the band teacher and asked her if there was any way they could help Peter out. Mrs. Lo said that the music department actually had a few old saxophones but they all needed to be cleaned and serviced. Mary asked if she could pay for the cleaning fee for two and if Mrs. Lo would keep mum about it.
“That’s awfully nice of you, Mary. Is there something going on between you two?” Mrs. Lo asked with a smile.
“No, we are just good friends,” Mary said.
*** To Be Continued ***
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