Friday, May 14, 2010

I am a teacher

When I was little
I saw my teacher everyday
Happy, angry, fed-up, bored down
Little I know the subject they taught
Just a routine stuff for me to do
Finish the homework
or meet a monster called pontianak
Day in, day out
I used to tell myself…...or others to me
To study hard for better future
Until I grew up wanted to be one
I practiced to write on the board
Like my teacher did
I practiced to hold the rotan right
So everyone will fear me
I practiced to speak out loud
So they can hear me
That day on
I knew my destiny
To be a teacher

They come into the class
With tight jeans and sleepy eyes
Make me wonder where were they last night
Talking to the moon and the stars
To fill the sleeplessness
Hiding behind the darkness
For actions beyond reasons
Howling the laughter
Through the night with no end
I sat to ponder
My role in this insanity
Can I look beyond the spikey hair?
Or pull up that bum-exposing pants…..
Maybe clean up that black-marker-dirty nails
Oooo I really want to snatch down
...that ugly-tangling earring from that boy
and that black-devilish lips ...whatever
so they can see and hear
with their hearts and souls
what I have prepared last night
yes I am a teacher now
teaching the unknowns to the unwanted
I lost for words
Or tricks to play
So they will be entertained
But we are no clowns
With blobby nose and big ears
I sat to contemplate
My role in this mad world
Where learning is a strange word
Pretending to sit and listen
Just to wait
For the hour to pass
For the day to turn dark
So they can talk…..
To the moon and the stars again
And smile to the darkness
That will hide their secrets
….from reality

To all teachers,
Remember our pledge
To mould and to nurture
The buds that will bloom
And color the horizon
Like rainbows ……
A flash of hopes and promises
To remind our roles
Despite the insanity, ungratefulness
So one day
They can stand tall
And paint the sky themselves

    Usah dikira wang dan ringgit
    Usah dikira keringat yang menitis
    Usah dihitung masa berlalu
    Anak-anak sedang menuggu
    Untuk belajar dan berbicara
    Tentang hidup dan kehidupan

    Jadilah kita bak pepohon
    Menghijau dan melata
    Meneduh dan melindung
    Insan-insan dari perit kehidupan
    Moga dedaun kan terus merimbun
    Untuk seribu tahun lagi

Yes, a teacher…....for eternity.
Happy Teacher’s Day folks!

shah alam

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Remembering May The 13

When they went riot in KL, I was just a little boy; trying to find out what the old people were talking about. As I remember it, we never went into hiding or ran into the jungle or anything like that. The kampong was safe and sound; and I went about as usual to buy my favorite ice cream from kedai ah seng, as I recall it vividly. I grew up without any bad connotation of the May 13, as perceived by some of my uncles and aunties. I never knew the differences among us only people with different names and attitudes. I had a Chinese headmaster with his fat daughter, Chinese and Indian English teachers that got drunk every other day and an awesome Sikh friend named Balbir Singh. They were all people around me during my primary school(SIS(2), Pasir Mas, Kelantan,1972) which was not that far from May 13 1969. I guess in Kelantan race has never been an issue just because we are simple folks living a simple life.

But now I know life is not that simple anymore. Differences do divide us apart; among kampong folks, local community, larger society and even a nation. In America, the society has been deeply segregated for decades and the struggle towards equality between races had exclaimed with assassinations and intimidations. “I’ve got a dream, I’ve got a dream ……” shouted Martin L King to kick off civil right movement that gave birth to new America. I think it is the best manifestation of “dream” to represent constant struggle that draws a path for the future generations. Can we dream for a peaceful Malaysia? Can we dream as well to see the Malays united under one flag? Can we dream of UMNO and PAS to unite for the survival of the Malays? … or is it too far from reality ? I guess they are trying but it’s like a sand castle that is washed away every time the wave comes to shore. Well maybe the sand castle has not been built yet and both parties have already talked about the windows and the kitchen cabinet . From my less than 2sen thought, both sides are lacking honesty. You can’t pretend to be honest and ask the other party to come and join your dinner. The history has been so bitter that any move, from both sides, deems to have hidden agenda. But politics make life even more complicated; that’s why I keep myself away from politics. Politics is about doing things your way; not the right way. You defend your principles and want things to run your agenda but that’s not necessarily the right way.

I dream for a society that values tolerance and understanding. I don’t want to give up my lifestyle for the sake of harmony; neither do you or anybody else. You keep your things and I keep mine. But we need to understand each other and when things crossed, we tolerate. That’s not hard , isn’t it?

When I was abroad during my study, people were very skeptical about me as I come from Malaysia. They heard stories about the Chinese being deprived of their rights and the Malays getting all the bounties. So it was hard as these people were our own lecturers and international students’ officers. But we managed and survived with the help of our own Malay brothers and sisters to attend our needs. When we experience such difficulties due to our nature of being a Malay; then the hostility began to emerge and gave birth to a deep sense of hatred. I pray to Allah for such senses to go away and out of my life.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mak! - my Mother

My mother is still strong and healthy for her age. Mak is 68 this year. Her hearing is going away now and we have to shout when talking to her. I don’t like to shout because I will shout only when I am mad. And when I am mad the world will go upside down. So in the house when Abah shouts everyone will go into hiding including the little kittens. But anyway, I have little chance now to go back and visit Mak very so often: I would call my sisters and brothers to find out about Mak. She raised all twelve of us quite successfully. With little skills she has, life had been very difficult. But alhmadulillah we are all very grateful to her and love her very much.

My love to you …
could not be spelled in words
or calculated in numbers
or valued in dollars and cents
or weighed in kilos
because your love to us
your life spent and sacrifice
far beyond
any worldly measures
may your name carved
on the heaven’s gate
taste the water of al kauthar
meet the beloved prophet
and receive the blessing from the Lord

Now I know the meaning of life
When aging is catching up
The knees tremble without warning
The joints squeak with every move
The walk is longer than ever before
The eyes scramble for a focus
And the loneliness that comes day and night
The stare over the horizon
Brings the promise of hopes
for my children, your grand children
could they run and chase the rainbows ?
as you ran with me when I was little
now I know where the tears came from
that ran down your cheek
every time when I asked my school money
it was not there, was it?
So you made a quick dash to the neighbor’s
For 20 cents to accompany me to school
I pray to Allah for forgiveness
For such troubles that made you sad
For every tear drop to be your good deeds
…and the key to the heavens

I dreamt of arwah Ayah a lot
He seemed happy
He gave me a smile
I remember his last days
When you cared for him…night and day
For the sickness that strange to us
For the pains that never went away
It was hopeless…but you never gave up
We were confused…but you showed us
…that love was never meant to be understood
For better or worst….you assured us that
….he was our Ayah
To love and cherish until his last breath
….when Ayah collapsed on your laps
The morning that we lost him…forever
I know you love him very much….we all do
I truly miss him a lot
Hope my du’a is answered
For him to rest in peace
The dream is a reminder…maybe
That death is close…to us, you and me.
So we should be more prepared….to meet the Lord

Today I want to tell the whole world
That my mother is awesome!
The best mom in the entire world
And we are blessed…
To have your hopes and prayers
As the wind…beneath our wings
Flew us high beyond our expectation
Took us to places we never dreamt of
Gave a good life

……..thanks Mak! we are good now…….

Read my other tributes for Mother's Day here and here

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Defining Moments of my Life

Living in Wichita in the early 80’s has indeed defined my life in many ways. It was the prime time of my adolescence and come to think of it, right now, I feel the details of those moments have later on become a big chapter of my life. But the life I was living back then was as flat as the land of the Midwest itself. There was nothing extra-ordinary to it but being in the strange land surrounded by strange people carved a strange character without much effort. I learnt a lot of things over there, well, since that time of your life you started to know many things , of course you must experience a lot of learning. The thing that I treasure until this day is the part when I learnt how to choose and make decision on my own. Somehow you have to because of you living away from your parents and what not. I made a lot decisions and lived with the consequences of what I have decided. Sometime there were good decisions but mostly there were plain stupid, so I thought. When I look back OMG why did I do that, or that? But hey who cares! I have survived through that you know. I learnt how to drive although my car was sitting there parking most of the time. It was an old Mazda RX-7. When my friend Azmi wanted to buy his car I kinda ask him to buy one for me. Just like when you know a friend going travelling you kinda ask him to buy you a cool t-shirt. It was like that and the car cost me 400 dollars. But the car broke down most of the time; I changed the exhaust system once for 400 dollars and still it could not run as well as it should be . Bad decision. Once I drove it to the mosque for a maghrib prayer and hit a sign post . That was the end of it; I just left it there by the road side and the next time I passed by, it was towed away. I had a Ford Fiesta once; nice little car that I paid for 700 dollars. It ran better than my other cars and used it to drive everywhere during that summer. I brought Abdul fatah to test drive the car when I wanted to buy it but I spoilt the negotiation. He was furious. Someone told me that these people prefer cash buy(well who doesn’t, duh!) so right away I offered him cash well before Abdul fatah said anything. Why did you ask me to come along if you want to do that? He was obviously upset. I felt bad and it was really stupid of me; I could get the car for a lot less. Another lesson for me, don’t rush into things.

Love life. Well that was the time when everybody else was having a good love life except me ( and a few other losers like me..hahaha). It did not bother me that much actually because I did not know how to anyway. I found fun and laughter with the guys until sometimes I wondered if I was gay. The AIDS disease was found in 83-84 so I just came to know what “gay” means. But to manage love life (or sex life) was really a daunting task for me. So I just let it go without putting much effort into it.

Read about my other recollections here and here.

Academically, it was hard as well. But Alhamd I manage to get through. I learnt Computer Science without knowing how great the technology will be later on in life. I did programming by punching holes in a card; so ancient that my student could not imagine how. So you carried a round a stack of cards in your bag? Heck yes! And imagine also if that stack of cards fell off and scattered all over the place; you would be devastated. But I persevered and dragged my self one semester after another, only to know later in life that programming skill is the lifeline of my career. I also struggled with English (read here!) but later on came to love the language; and now I will never let it go. Everyday I will write in English and brush up my grammar as well as vocabs. I’m still sometime confuse between “is” and “are”, the active and passive verbs etc but the beauty is that the language is so rich and vast you won’t get to the end of it. But in the end I did not make good grades just a pass. I felt nothing to cherish or to shout out loud; I did not bother to attend the convocation. What the heck for?

And in the summer of 1987 Ahmad Azhar Wagiran and Mazlan(thank you guys!) drove me to Peoria ,IL for my grad school. Another exciting chapter of my life was about to begin.