Ask me, “What’s an atlas ?”
I will start with a book of maps showing position of countries, towns, seas and mountains etc. School children can answer that equally well.
A world atlas
I would go back to my childhood days when, like children of those days, I was interested in old folk lore like Pak Pandir, Hang Tuah etc. Then of course I would imagine the mighty Atlas of the Greek mythology holding the earth on his back.
Now I have to scratch my head thinking hard of my old geography lesson when I learnt all about the prominent ranges of Alps, the Himalayas, the Andes etc. And among them stands Atlas Mountains stretching across North Africa.
Now you catch me. I am sorry. I cannot think of any more, unless you mean AlAttas.
“My goodness. You don’t have to go to school to know what Atlas is!”
I was then doing English with my Form TWO pupils when something made me ask them what ‘atlas’ was when a line in the book we were reading read, “ …… bought me an atlas ….” I was glad to have asked them that question. a stupid question, perhaps. About twenty blank faces looked at one another, a few shaking their heads. I just stood there with disbelief. Then a boy mastered the courage to suggest,
“Kain pelikat, Pakcik!”
Indeed ‘Atlas’ was a popular brand of man’s cloth (kain pelikat) at that time. Everyone in the village knows that. How silly I was.
That old man standing in front of the class could only draw a sigh to realise how out-dated and silly he was. To him was kain pelikat 'cap gajah benang seribu', nothing but the best of his time.
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