21 June 2008

End of the tunnel, at last! - Part 1

“Pak Cik,you still remember me, don’t you ?” I looked hard at the short chubby figure dressed in baju kurung and smiling broadly at me. It was a familiar face indeed, unmistakable with dimpled cheeks and all. Her name was on the tip of my tongue. Noticing my stunned look and slight hesitation she volunteered, “Ana…” That was as far as she got. “Ana Sarda!” escaped from my mouth quite spontaneously. That name is by no means a common one but I had it uttered over and over again during the years she was at Almanar. It is like the title of an old favourite tune which escapes you when you need to name it. Someone needs just to say the first word and you get the rest.

Ana Sarda joined Almanar early in 1998, together with a group of form 1 pupils. She was a skinny figure of twelve, to-day a charming lass of twenty-two. Pak Cik have not seen her for a good seven years. How she has changed over the years to one who is free and easy at conversation and generous with her smile.

Then, in 1998, she was the eldest of six in the family. Her father retired early from the army but life had to go on with the growing family. Her mother, a good cook, prepared half-a-dozen types of ‘kueh’ every night and her father had it all delivered to a number of coffee stalls before dawn to catch customers on their way home from surau after their subuh prayers. Ana did her share of the work helping her mother. Consequently, she could only start doing her school work after nine o’clock. But that was not all as she had to wake up again by four, an unearthly hour for children of her age, to help out with the final part of her mother’s work, frying, boiling, packaging and so on.

That was Anna who, nonetheless, never failed to attend classes at Almanar with enthusiasm, albeit looking rather tired. Pak Cik came to learn of her nocturnal ‘co-curricular’ activity at home, and appreciating her position, I chose to ease my pressure on her. I even tolerated her occasional sleepy nods in class, fighting drowsiness. But Pak Cik was very worried particularly when it was barely three months before her important Form 3 examination (PMR). With hardly another choice I sought her father for a frank talk. It was such a relief to Pak Cik when he readily agreed to my suggestion that Anna be given the permission to stay with Pak Cik’s family during the months leading to PMR. Nuri then became her temporary home.



For some reason best known to Anna she left our house after the examination and simply vanished. There had not been a visit from her, not even a phone call. It was a great disappointment beyond words. And now, after seven long years of diappearance, she turned up. Pak Cik was least surprised when her second question was, “Are you angry with me, Pak Cik ?” I was truly lost for words. “Pak Cik I have finished my study at UPSI.”

Pak Cik and family offered her tea and sympathy with the sole intention of seeing her succeeding in life, and now she turned up to tell us just that. Should we grudge her for her disappearance and apparent lack of gratitude or should we be delighted with her success? She is now waiting for her posting as a teacher in chemistry, the subject she majored in.

A drop of tears for Ana!

It was a long dark tunnel and Ana has come to the end of it.

-----------------------

Foot-note:

1. While waiting to be posted, Ana has been seen at Almanar voluntarily giving help to
pupils with problems in science and maths.
2. Ana is now the eldest of eight, two more added into her family since she joined in
1998. She is hoping to take along her two young brothers, still in primary school, to
wherever she is being posted because she is determined to see their success in life as
well.

Ana has begun to live up to our motto : Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

5 comments:

Amir Hamzah Othman said...

Asalamuailaikum. I think It has been a year since I last saw Pak Cik. To me you are a teacher and a father. Al-manar was where I learnt English. I may not be good in academic but I will try my best. Insyallah I will do better. I still remember your words of advice.

I am now at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia,Skudai doing geomatics engineering. Amir will not forget what you have done for me. Please send my regards to Mak Cik. I pray for you.

Al-Manar said...

Pak Cik said:

Amir. I remember you well, the long ride on your father’s motorbike to attend classes at Almanar. To send you and fetch you back would mean about 30 kilometers to your father on each day you came to Pak Cik’s class. I never cease to admire his dedication during those three years just to make sure you would be someone some day. And now you have finally joined a university. Your father’s untiring effort and Pak Cik’s little contribution are well rewarded. Wish you well and success.

ARZ said...

Pak Chik Hassan,

As always, I'm touched. The 2 comments from your past students say it all.

May Allah bless you and Mak Chik with continous health

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Thank you Pakcik...Ana will never forget you.Only Allah can pay back all kindness that you did for me.

Lots of love from me.

Ana Sarda Jaafar

Al-Manar said...

Ana,

Insya Allah I will have another posting on you.