Mathematics --- D
Science --------- C
Malay ( comp)-- C
Malay (writing)- A
On the basis of these results, after six years at school, what chances has he in the academic world? He is already on the alien rocky moon surface, not just a non-level playing field. For that matter can he qualify to compete in a feather-weight championship, if boxing is the game? These were the questions running through my mind ten years ago. Sadly, the same questions still run through my mind today despite several claims made that ours is a state having spectacular UPSR results for years and years. UPSR results such as shown above, and even worse, are still prevalent today.
The boy in question is generally known as Lan. Being somewhat lanky, taller than many of his peers, he is sometimes called ‘Pak Lan’. Now, two months after the UPSR exam results were known, a relative of his approached Pak Cik for his admission into form 1 class at Almanar. Almanar is never fussy over UPSR results. One with 3B and 2C is good enough to be admitted, but Lan’s performance cast great doubt over his ability to keep up with the rest. I expressed my reservation so. Just as I was marshalling more arguments to justify my turning down his request, he dropped the bomb-shell.
“Dia anak yatim (He is an orphan),” was a simple statement, an assault against which Pak Cik can never have a defence. Almanar, as a rule, has to bend backwards for an orphan, full stop.
It was a sad story. Lan’s father, a general worker, was killed when a lorry crashed into his motorcycle three years earlier. His mother refused to entertain the idea of allowing her son to have a stepfather, how hard her life might be to raise her loved ones. Perhaps, Lan’s performance in UPSR exam was a reflection of the hard life that followed.
Thus, Lan became a new form 1 pupil at Almanar. His withdrawn nature gave Pak Cik a cause to worry. But he followed every lesson diligently, getting from Pak Cik a bit more attention than the rest of the class in English and Mathematics. Over the weeks and months Lan grew in confidence, absorbing practically everything being dished out to him. His performance graph was climbing steadily. By the end of form 3 he must have committed into memory not less than 2500 new English words, as expected of Almanar’s pupils.
Then came the big surprise. PMR exam at the end of 2003 saw Lan getting away with the following results:.
English ------------- A
Mathematics ------- A
Kemahiran Hidup -- A
+ 5 other subjects - B
So Lan had done it his way.
Last week, after a long silence, Lan surfaced from nowhere at Pak Cik’s house, Nuri. He was a picture of confidence, wearing a thin layer of dark beard under his chin, a token of maturity, perhaps. His appearance was a reunion of some sort for the two of us. We had a lot to talk about of the years he was at Almanar.
“All has gone well, Pak Cik, and in November, God willing, I will get my diploma in Mechanical Engineering. What do you suggest I do then, Pak Cik?”
Yes, it is just a Diploma, nothing glamorous, a far cry from a degree in medicine, accountancy and so on. But he was a poor candidate to begin with, hardly qualified as a feather-weight competitor – yet a champion in his own right he will soon be. I am happy for him and his loving mother.
“Get a job first and look after your mother. She has waited long enough. Later on, with some practical experience, you can think of going further to be a full fledged engineer.”
“Thank you, Pak Cik. I think I will do that,” he responded. His grin began to fade as he picked up his hankerchief to dab his watery eyes. Was it the tender thought of his mother ? Blessed is a son who thinks so.
Having regained his composure he whispered,“By the way, Pak Cik, I top my class in English!” That was meant to be a reward for Pak Cik.