30 January 2009

Almanar’s gate is closed, sorry. No class to-day

Photo taken on 26 Jan 2009

Go home and don’t look so sad, my friends. Go and celebrate the Year of the Ox. You may not be exactly one, but in this beloved country everyone celebrates everyone else’s New Year.

Come again tomorrow and try your luck into Almanar. The grass inside looks green and tempting.

08 January 2009

The End Of The Tunnel – In Sight- (Part 3)- It is His Lucky Day

An old office colleague, now a successful entrepreneur, turned up from Kuala Lumpur with his family, grandchildren and all. How pleasant it was for us, living in this quiet part of the world, to receive such a visit and sit lingering over a lunch. Before parting he passed Pak Cik a sum of money in cash plus one cheque, saying that it was to be used at Almanar for whatever purpose I found it appropriate. That was two days ago, a visit unexpected and fund unsolicited.

Yesterday afternoon, an ex-Almanar pupil came over to consult Pak Cik over an offer she received for a one-year foundation course for medicine. On successful completion of the course, the sponsors would send him to an overseas university. SPM results will only be known in two months’ time. That a pupil is selected today for such a highly demanded course must reflect an expection of an excellent SPM result. He must also have satisfied his interviewers at a session a month ago. I have known him since he joined Almanar five years ago after getting 4A and 1B in his UPSR exam. Three years later he obtained 8As in his PMR which earned him a place in a prestigious boarding school. So to all intents and purposes he is a good bet. So all things considered, Pak Cik advised him to accept the offer.

Alas, there was a snag, an immense problem to him, as a matter of fact. He was advised that some expenses, including the registration fee, had to be borne by him. A normal family may not bat an eye over a sum of the size quoted. But for a bread-winner, working at a factory and with eleven mouths to feed, the sum creates a major obstacle. How on earth can the family afford the sum which must be ready on registration in less than one week? How timely it was that a do-gooder came to Pak Cik’s house just one day earlier. Pak Cik handed my ex-pupil some cash from what I had received, telling him that it was not out my pocket. He cried bitterly over the unexpected gift. God works in a mysterious way.

Pak Cik, as a facilitator, an intermediary can only pray that one day this pupil will be a doctor, one with humility and huminity –
Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.

Judging from the way he has performed thus far, he will, in a matter of time, be out of the long dark tunnel. And so is Pak Cik’s continued expectation of you all, ex-Almanar pupils. But do not hope for it without sustained effort, your own sweat.

Pak Cik cannot at this point disclose this pupil’s identity. Hopefully, I will be able to do so when he has gone through the tunnel, Insya' Allah.

03 January 2009

Hatinya baik (He had a wonderful heart) – Part 2 ( Al Fatihah)

While the world are celebrating the joy of New Year, Pak Cik would like to spare a moment thinking of how I should put it in plain words my thought of an unhappy event that took place in November, the month that saw me writing about the significance of 01-01-01, the Poppy Day (Pak Cik Reminisces Part 5), and the departure of a very dear friend, Dato' Ahmad Badri (Hatinya baik - Part 1).

Pak Cik ended the year of 2008 with the posting of old prayers that I transcribed from the first page of my diary written 50 years earlier on 01-01-1959, in Happy New Year 1430H and 2009. So let me begin 2009 with an equally solemn piece.

The untimely departure of Dato’ Razali Ismail was widely published. It is getting to be an old event and fading into the past. My diary today is this blog and I simply have to record something meaningful to me. (By no means Pak Cik am expecting to read this in another 50 years’ time!) I was very tempted to write about that event when the death took place but resisited it. Allah Yarham was special and I had to wait for a special time to record it hoping the effect would be special too. So allow Pak Cik to make this to be my new year posting, requesting an Alfatihah from my Almanar pupils and my Muslim readers for this very special person – hatinya baik.

Datuk Ahmad Badri (of my posting, Hatinya Baik - Part 1) left two days into the month of November. He was very close as a friend. Dato’ Razali left us two days before the end of the same month. Unlike the former I cannot call him a friend. He married into a member of my family. He addressed me as ‘Wah’ like some of Pak Cik’s nieces and nephews. Others preferred ‘Ayah Ngah’, instead. To you, my Almanar children who are equally precious to me, it has been ‘Pak Cik’. One day I will write about how I own different names!

Pak Cik will not write what has been published in our mass media. I want to be more specific of the very thing this extraordinary mortal did that touched me. It was something very personal and flattering but I do not think he realised how that inspired me to carry on with my effort at a time when I was uncertain whether the difficulty I was experiencing then was worth my time and effort. I had disapproval, believe it or not, from a number of individuals in the field of education. In fact I still have some today. You know some of them are in your own school, dear Almanar pupils.

One morning in September 2002, when Almanar was in its seventh year of existence, two cars pulled up in front of Pak Cik’s house. From one of them stepped out two gentlemen dressed in dark suits. One was the unmistakeable bubbly Dato’ Razali whom I knew too well. Following him was a tall gentleman who was introduced to me as Datuk Abdul Rafie Mahat (not yet a Tan Sri then), who was the Malaysian Director General of Education. Helding my hands firmly this important figure from Kuala Lumpur uttered something which still rings clear in my ears today, “I want to meet the unsung hero.” I was completely taken aback by that ‘unsung hero’ bit. What had this state Director of Education been telling his boss that prompted the latter to make that very special brief visit? - an important national figure paying homage to an old kampong folk.

That was not the end of the ‘unsung hero’ episode. About four months later Pak Cik made an appointment to meet the Principal of a secondary school outside my area. I had to introduce myself and my involvement with Almanar. His eyes lit up as something suddenly dawned on him. “So, you are the ‘unsung hero’ our DG mentioned in his talk!” That was Pak Cik’s second surprise. I could only guess, not wanting to show my interest, that the late Tan Sri Rafie had chosen to quote me and Almanar in his speech some time during his visit to the state.

In no small way the above episode inspired me. Unexpected recognition by people who matters in my type of activity did just that. Sadly both of them departed at a time when they could have continued to serve ‘kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan’ – Dato’ Razali at 59 as the Deputy Minister of Education, and Tan Sri Abdul Fafie Mahat at 60 as the Chairman of Education Service Commission.

From the number of conversations I had with Allah Yarham Dato’ Razali I can categorically say education was in his blood. He preached what he believed and he proved that what he believed could be substantiated. He was not one who blew his own trumpet. Only those close to him knew he raised good children, his eldest being a graduate from Cambridge . He was not just a father, a teacher, a principal of a Teachers’ Training College , a state Director of Education and a Deputy Minister of Education for nothing. Many owe him something. Pak Cik owe him his simple gesture, the ‘unsung hero’ episode, that I interpret as a sign of the man’s attitude and dedication towards education. Little did he realise what it meant to Pak Cik, an inspiration at a time I needed it most.

For one who had a good heart ( orang yang mempunyai hati baik) let us pray that he is being suitably rewarded by the Absolute Creator Himself. Let us recite Alfatihah for him, for Tan Sri Ahmad Rafei and the likes of them.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.