17 April 2010

End of the Tunnel ( Part 7 ) - Will there be ‘satar’ no more?

Tini was what we all called her at Almanar thirteen years ago.
And Tini has not changed in name and personality.
Her parents sell satar.
Her parents’s parents sold satar.
Perhaps even before that her folks prepared and sold satar ,too.
No wonder theirs is probably the best known satar in this locality.
Satar is an age old favourite delicacy in Terengganu. Like keropk lekor, budu and so on Its main gradient is fish which is ground and mixed with fresh coconut and what not, and dexterously wrapped in banana leaf in the shape of small cones, then skewered on sharpened bamboo sticks and put on the barbecue, emanating an inviting aroma only typical of satar.
Tini, being a member of an old satar family, does her share in this small traditional family business, if you can call selling at a road-side stall a business. Her father, who works as a general worker, does not really need to sell satar to feed his family. But he does need the extra ringgits from satar to keep his six children through school uninterrupted. He is determined to see that they all have a better lot in life. So in the afternoon Tini’s father and family are busy at his small stall by the main road in front of his house.

And today Tini continues to do her share, giving a helping at the road-side stall, but only whenever she is home on leave from her work in KL. She has a full time job like her two sisters.

Tini attended tuition classes at Almanar for the whole three years, immediately after copleting her her UPSR exam until she sat for her PMR exam. Unlike her a younger brother, like many boys in this area, attended Almanar just for ONE day. Nevertheless he is pursuing a diploma course which hopefully will also enable him to get a job. That leaves number five and six in the family, a pair of non-identical twins of a boy and a girl, who have just completed their UPSR and are now among those starting to receive tuition at Almanar, like Tini thirteen years ago.

It was in 1997 when Tini and a dozen other children joined Almanar, which was then in its infancy years. Of Tini there was nothing outstanding to talk about except for her determination to fulfill her parents’ dream. she was a late developer who needed that extra chance and help to prove her worth. After her secondary school she went to do a diploma course in civil engineering at UTM at the end of which she continued to do her degree. Pakcik was pleasantly surprised when one day Tini came to tell Pakcik that she had earned herself a FIRST-CLASS honours degree in civil engineering.


Tini now works for a consulting firm. But she can still be seen helping her family whenever she is home on leave. Her father still has an unfinished job, to see his last two children through. Hopefully Almanar will be of help to the twins as well.

Tini was engaged last December. Two months later she turned up at Pakcik’s house to personally deliver an invitation card for her wedding last March.

Today Tini is someone’s wife, a lucky man indeed he is. It is Makcik’s and Pakcik’s prayers that Tini will have her own family one day.

But Pak Cik will not cease to wonder whether the satar saga ends when the twin have succeeded like Tini – when their parents’ dream and prayers have been answered. Will Tini’s children ever know how to prepare satar? Will they ever know what satar meant for their mother’s family?

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

11 April 2010

A sad side to it

The face of the girl stepping into the Photostating shop looked familiar. I was surveying her face when she turned and noticed me. Almost spontaneously she showed sign of recognition. Seeing a blank on my face she asked politely, “Pakcik, lupa saya?”

I apologized and for that she offered to introduce herself. Her name is Fauziah (not her real name). She used to attend tuition classes at Almanar. As an aid to jog my memory she mentioned two boys’ names who joined Almanar in early 2005, Azmi and Fazil (also not real names). Unlike these two boys who stayed on until PMR and continued to visit Almanar, she stayed on for a few months only. There was a tinge of regret in the way she said it. She knew, mentioning the two boys’ name would help. There are among the success story of my earlier posting ( 2009 SPM – Against the trend!). Azmi has 9A’s to his credit in his SPM and Fazil 8A’s.

Indeed, linking herself to that group helped me to place her. But she must have suddenly realised her mistake. I would quite naturally ask how she fared herself in the exam. She never bargained for that I am sure. In an undertone she murmured that her results were not so good, obtaining only 3 subjects with A grade, P.Islam, B.Melayu and Geography. To exonerate her lack luster she quickly volunteered, “You remember Akmal,( not real name) don’t you? She also left Almanar like me. She obtained just 2A’s , in Pendidikan Seni and Islam. She got E grades in English and Maths.” So there were others who performed worse!

Indeed Fauziah did not do badly. Many have done very much worse. But to Pakcik it was a shame for she had the potential to do better. To illustrate my point, let us examine briefly the progress of the four children in the five years they were in the secondary school. They had just completed their UPSR exam. They were at par with each other at the start.

Student UPSR 2004 PMR 2007 SPM 2009
Azmi 2A's; 3B's 8A's 9A's
Fazil 2A's; 2B's; 1C8A's 8A's
Fauziah 3A's; 1B; 1C2A's 3A's
Akmal 2A's; 3B's2A's 2A's

The two girls faltered all the way and something had inspired the boys to prove their worth.

I feel sorry for the girls and for many others. I would have less pity if they had come from well-to-do urban families. But here in the backwater of great development, it is not just their future but at stake is the future of their parents and families as a whole, and the community.

I feel truly sorry for Fauziah and Akmal. What had gone sour for them?

This was what Pakcik feared and this was one of the reasons why Almanar was established sixteen years ago, to lend a hand to the needy. Our system, with the rigidity of established rules, formats and guidelines, and often lacking in caring and humane approaches, may indeed put some children at a disadvantage. And these may be the very children who are the most deserving to be given help and guidance.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan