29 October 2011

Moment to Reflect (Pt 5) - It is here again

Time and tide wait for no man. So does MONSOON.

The dark hovering clouds float threateningly low, accompanying waves growing in size and speed, bringing rain to irrigate our land.

And fishermen’s boats lie idling, threatening livelihood.

What will become of their children?

Do we wait and see, year in and year out?

Let us reflect for a moment

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

22 October 2011

What Pakcik received (Pt 2) - The Brick

How often do we sit back, look around and give some thought to what appears to us too insignificant to waste our few seconds ? Pakcik received the following “BRICK” from a friend. It made me stop to think.

The Brick!!!

Read It.

Read this today and
don't delete it
even if
you are too busy!! You'll


A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked
cars and slowed down
when he thought he saw

As his car passed, no children appeared.
Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door!
He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to
the spot where the brick had been thrown.

The angry driver then jumped out of the
car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up
a parked car shouting,

'What was that all about and who are you? Just what
the heck are you doing? That's a new car and that
brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money.. Why
did you do it?' The young boy was apologetic.

'Please, mister....please, I'm sorry but I didn't
know what else to do,' He pleaded. 'I threw the
brick because no one else would stop...' With tears
dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth
pointed to a spot just around a parked car. 'It's my
brother, 'he said 'He rolled off the curb and fell
out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him

Now sobbing, the boy
asked the stunned executive, 'Would you please help
me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and
he's too heavy for me.'

Moved beyond words,
the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling
lump in his throat.. He hurriedly lifted the
handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took
out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh
scrapes and cuts.. A quick look told him everything
was going to be okay.

'Thank you and may God bless
you,' the grateful child told the stranger.

Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the boy
push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk
toward their home..

It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair
the dented side door. He kept the dent there to
remind him of this message:

'Don't go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!'

We should not need a brick being thrown at us to stop and think: “ Can I be of help?”

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.

11 October 2011

With a Sigh (Pt 9) - Punish her or Pity her?

This is the story of a small incident, insignificant on the surface of it. It is real. Initially I had no intention of making a posting of this but, on reflection, I doubt many of us would have a close encounter with that sort of situation unless one is a teacher. By default I was associated with the small school where this little drama took place. Because the incident meant something to me I chose to have it jotted down, and today is as good a time as any to share it with my visitors.

It is a small rural primary school with a total enrolment of just about 200 pupils. Many of their parents are just ordinary fishermen, small-time carpenters, petty traders and general labourers. A number of them are boatmen ferrying tourists to the island resorts off the shore. A number of younger ones found themselves manual jobs on the islands where rich operators serve super-rich tourists.

This school had nothing to be proud of by way of UPSR exam results. To improve the situation extra classes were arranged for the final year pupils of Standard 6. But many parents did not see it important enough to make their children attend these classes unless the children themselves could be motivated enough to attend. For this reason a very basic incentive scheme was thought of. Prizes would be awarded to those who scored well in their English monthly tests, English language being the most problematic.

I found it hard to believe when the teachers were almost unanimous on the kind of prize to be handed out to the top six best performers every month. Each of them would receive one or two packets of sugar-coated biscuits, each packet costing about two ringgits!

But it worked wonders.

Indeed, the teachers knew that the in-thing for these pupils was enjoying the luxury of those cheap sugar-coated biscuits, the craze of those children of that locality at that time.


A couple of months later, Pakcik was told by a teacher of what she had just heard. Children excitedly talked about the biscuits, how wonderful they tasted and so on.

This went on fine and the general improvement was surprisingly encouraging. Each time the prizes were presented, the losers would look with envy, lucky if the winners chose to share their prizes there and then with them instead of taking them home to proudly show their parents and share with their siblings.

One day Pakcik was told of an unexpected incident, a kind of the famous ‘Great Train Robbery’ ( of England in 1963 – a couple of years after Pakcik left the country, so I am not guilty! I estimate the 2.8 million pound sterling robbed, was equivalent to about 20 million Malayan ringgits at the exchange rate of that time. Only a very small part of the heist was ever recovered)

One packet of the biscuits was found missing!

A search was carried out resulting in a standard six girl being found with her bag containing the tell-tale biscuit wrapper. Not one piece of biscuit was left. On being questioned, the guilty girl full of regret and eyes full of tears, pleaded her case,

Saya teringin sangat, cikgu. Tak pernah makan.” ( Too tempting, teacher. I have never tasted it before.)

She had found a quiet moment to pick a packet and eaten the lot of its content in one go. Fearing to be caught she innocently hid the wrapping in her school beg.

Now, would anyone have the heart to punish this girl?

I knew this girl, a shy little girl whom I would never lay a finger on. I would just draw a sigh.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan


i ) The school had its record performance that year, thanks to the sugar-coated biscuits.

ii ) Against this kind of scenario, not an isolated one for that matter, would I consider importing Mat Sallehs from all over the world, with all their slang and twang, to raise the standard of English in rural areas like this? Do the people up there, up in and beyond the clouds, know what the likes of these children need to improve their English? Is it the Mat Sallehs for them to watch with awe, wonder and admiration, or the sugar-coated biscuits to struggle for?

iii) Given the freedom and appropriate means our teachers may know better how to make children work and improve themselves. This may be the path rural schools need to take instead of the glorified 'policy' pushed down from the sky. Do these children really care for the need to obtain points in the mandatory co-curricular activities to qualify entering one of the universities 'of taraf antara bangsa'? Which should come first, university entrance or just simple sugar-coated biscuits?

iv ) Now I am wondering where that sugar-coated biscuit girl is now. Pakcik would love to see this girl again one day.

08 October 2011

All in the Family ( Part 1 ) -Yesterday & Tomorrow

My series ‘Pakcik Reminisces’ has numbered 22 parts, with likely more to come. In writing about my past I cannot help bringing in certain aspects of the immediate members of my family. Inadvertently, one may get the impression of unnecessary pride. This is something I wish to avoid. I see this is as good reason as any to create a new series to be called ‘All in the Family’, this being Part 1, the spearhead. Dear readers may opt to leave unread entries in this series.
Look at the following car registration numbers.
TAX 7917

TAH 7917 and TAB 9717

Earlier There was another vehicle bearing registration number TT 7917.

All of them belong to the lower end of locally manufactured car models, lacking in prestige as much as the plate numbers can testify. But seeing so many cars registered with that number under one owner can raise eyebrows – what’s in that number?
And somewhere in a garage is our very precious 30-year old BMW 525i undergoing a major operation by the end of which it should be running better than new! This vehicle bears registration plate WBA 7917.
The TAB 9717 was forced on us as we were late on deciding to buy the car. For the same reason we once had 1969 on registration plate.
7917 is just a number made up of 7, 9 and 17, the birthdates of our three children.
On 7th October, exactly forty-six years ago YESTERDAY, our Number 1, the only daughter was born.
Click on the picture to enlarge

Ainun's and her wiriting in the sand of time '10 Tahun - 7 10 75 KTR'
36 years ago


On 9th October, exactly forty-three years ago TOMORROW, our Number 2, a boy, was born.

Anwar's and his writing in the sand of time ' 9 . 10 . 75 KTR'
36 years ago


On 17th July, thirty-nine years ago last July, our Number 3, another boy, was born.
That made the initial five of us in the family.

The happy family : No 1, Babah, No 3, Mami and No 2
Camreron Highlands 30 years ago

The precious three

So there we are. The gift of three children is everything to us, nothing ever matches their worth. Lest our memory fails us, we should have those numbers to remind us of their birthdates. They are everything to us, His greatest gift. After all, they have brought into our family spouses, and in turn have given us ten grand-children to be proud of. But His gift does not stop there. Through Almanar we can claim many, many more children to keep us busy as the light grows dimmer in the west, before the final curtain falls.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

02 October 2011

End of the Tunnel ( Pt 13 ) - What is success?

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.

The wedding party we never failed to attend

The happy couple

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.