Almost seventeen years ago Yani and Zira, two timid kampong girls, joined the form 1 tuition class at Almanar. Yani, currently working with a private college in Selangor, is already a mother of two kids. And early this year, Zira was married. She is working at a hospital, also in Selangor. Perhaps she too will be a mother before long.
An old picture of Yani with her second kid, Makcik and the new couple, Zira and husband
One morning last month a young couple gave us a surprise visit. The young man gave me a broad inquiring smile, " Pakcik dah lupa saya?"( Have you forgotten me?)
No, the face was too familiar to easily forget. He spent three long years as a pupil at Almanar. Despite the seveneen years that had lapsed I could not forget that face. He was one of two boys having the same name, Hafiz. I called this one 'Hafiz tinggi' and the other one 'Hafiz Maradona'; the latter being stouter resembling Diego Maradona, at that time the idol Argentine footballer who captained the country to win the World Cup. These two boys were in the same group at Almanar with the two girls, Yani and Zira.
"Ini kad jemputan saya, Pakcik( This is my invitation card)" his murmur was hardly audible, caused by the big grin on his face. By nature he is soft-spoken as well.
"After all these years only now you decide to turn up to this house again." I made it sound like a reproach. Indeed, the last time I saw him was fifteen years ago.
In the course of the following conversation Hafiz repeatedly apologised for staying away from Pakcik and Makcik. He repeatedly said, " Malulah Pakcik ( am ashamed)".
This Hafiz was not a star performer in school those days. His namesake, 'Maradona' is today a civil engineer and this one is not. He was ashamed that, in his mind, he had failed Pakcik who, he was convinced, had expected only the best of Almanar pupils. And he did not quite make it.
Now he was getting married. We promised to be present without doubt. And we did.
Before he left our house Pakcik managed to have a few quiet words with him, assuring him that he was wrong. A degree is not the certificate of success in life. He now has a permanent job with the state government and his very charming bride is with a university here. That is a better start than his own parents. And he now has every chance to place his children a step better in life. He smiled - pleased with himself.
And Pakcik and Makcik pray that this new couple will have a life blessed with success and happiness. We know he is in a position to contribute something to his parents.
Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.