Pak Cik began the afternoon with a simple introduction of Almanar, explaining the very reason for its existence – berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan. (Ex-Almanar members must have heard enough of that, for sure.) Pak Cik tried to dispel the general notion that something offered for free was of lesser quality than one with a high price tag. Fortunately, in as far as the free tuition at Almanar was concerned, this was not difficult to sell. The performance of pupils associated with Almanar during the last several years had spoken for itself.
During the course of the ‘cakap-cakap’ session we talked, among other things, about Pak Cik’s rather critical view on TV, computers and hand-phones. Uncontrolled, the numerous entertainment programmes dished out over TV, and ingenious computer games are fast turning into a problem of addiction among children. It is so easy for the addicted ones to spend absorbing hours on TV or exciting hours on a computer. On the contrary, how tiresome and boring it is for the same pupils to concentrate for ten minutes on a school book!
A pupil not in possession of a hand-phone can be regarded ‘ketinggalan zaman’. Among certain groups of pupils that is how it is. It may be beyond the comprehension of many village folks that an unhealthy relationship between ‘shy’ kampong boys and girls can develop from the ‘misuse’ of this modern gadget. Sending SMS is private and is hardly noticeable and, hence, it causes no embarrassment. That extra courage to approach a girl or a boy is no longer necessary. Coffee shop ‘politicians’ lament endlessly over the worsening moral problems. Few indeed appreciate that an innocent looking hand-phone can be a serious beginning. In an urban environment, where parents are from the middle or upper class, modern gadgets are just things taken for granted. For that matter it is a norm to see two cars in front of a house. In a village where two bicycles are shared among a family and one bicycle for each member of a family is a luxury, a hand-phone does represent a different value, more so to a young teenager, and can cause a different effect, too.
Pak Cik cited to the parents an occasion when two girls exchanged glances as I was talking on my hand-phone in a room at Almanar, At the end my conversation one of the girls, wearing a cheeky smile on her face, asked Pak Cik the model of my hand-phone. They did not have to hide from Pak Cik that they very well knew it.
“Nur, it’s just a cheap Nokia, the cheapest Pak Cik could get for under RM 150/-.” I responded casually. “And what is the price of yours?” I asked, playing an admiring look at a hand-phone beside her book.
“It’s just over RM300, Pak Cik. This friend’s is worth nearly RM 400/-,” smiling at he girl beside her.
“Why are yours so expensive?” I asked, showing a genuine curiosity.
“Ours have cameras, Pak Cik,” was her reply. “Ask a silly question and get a silly answer,” I thought to myself.
Well, here is poor PakCik, totally lagging in ‘kecanggihan’, and these children, spending their annual bursary of RM600 from the government – being of poor family but way up front in the possession of something ‘canggeh’!
Indeed we have numerous problems at a village level, different from one to another, a fishing village or one in the interior. Pak Cik often wonder how many ‘experts’ and ‘pakar’ from our ‘menara gading yang bertaraf antara bangsa’ care to carry out this kind of social study and highlight the many ills in a kampong society. The Royal Professor Ungku Abdul Aziz did many of those during his days, hence his in-depth views of problems among Malay children and so on. A person like him could have thought of the need for an organization like Tabung Haji. He is convinced that Malay children in the villages need better nourishment for better brain. Alas, we are now all for turning our young ones to astronauts!
The parents listened to Pak Cik’s ‘cakap cakap’ and we all laughed light-heartedly. Finally we adjourned to Nuri where Mak Cik had some tea with ‘something-something’ simple prepared to end the occasion. That was an afternoon well spent.
Anak Pakcik No.2
Trust pakcik to jolt our senses to the reality of things! Indeed, the habitual act of taking things for granted. RM300 mobile phones? It is even scarier to find out from Azim (a form 1 student in urban KL) that some of his friends are walking with RM3000 handphones stuck in their pockets, and still complaining of lagging behind in terms of “yang tercanggih”! Ringgit and sense seldom come together.
For you dear Al-manar students, I envy you. You are with pakcik in his “prime time”, when he can sit back and share his life experience to all of you on a constant basis. His words oozes with virtues and wisdom, so children, listen up and pay attention!