26 November 2012

All in the family ( Pt 6 ) – Take a BREAK

It is time to have a BREAK.

In last Sunday’s NST Wan Hulaimi, in his article, ‘All that babble and blah about esteem’ said, “… it has been demonstrated time and again that telling students that they can hone their skills towards greater achievements is better than praising them for scoring all As. ….’

That interesting piece of writing bears no reference to the UPSR results. But it adds up to that pride of achievement.

After continuous record-BREAKING years of being the champion in UPSR examination, Terengganu, according to a local daily, is doing a ‘post-mortem’ on the reasons for the failure to maintain that distinction, the high esteem. From the small samples of pupils attending Almanar tuition classes over the last nineteen years I always wonder how on earth the state could have been proud of its achievement over the years. I have not been able to reconcile the reality with the esteem.  It is about time to have a BREAK forcing a much needed post-mortem.

So it is good to have a BREAK, even in a record-BREAKING dream of self esteem.

One of Pakcik’s grandchildren failed to get all A’s in the recent UPSR examination. I am glad it is not seen as a tragedy in the family breaking the chain of excellence set by her two elder brothers. Isn’t it good to have a BREAK so that we all do not get carried away believing the world is always at our feet?

While two of Pakcik’s grandchildren are right now struggling with their SPM examination two other grandchildren are enjoying themselves because they themselves have just sat for their PMR examination. Never mind what fate has in store for them. As for now they are having a good BREAK with us, armed with their guitars, serenading their grandma from the top of the tree house.

Standing on a tree house
Serenading a grandma
In this part of the world these two city boys have a chance to perform the neck-BREAKING task of picking young coconuts. It is easy when they see a local shinning up a tall coconut palm; or a trained monkey running all the way up to the top. Doing it yourself even on a small tree proved not all that simple without a bit of cheating. 

No, I can't make it

Let's do a bit of cheating

I can do it too


It is  November now, the middle of our special snow-free winter season when monsoon rain ought to be pelting down day and night. But even the monsoon has its BREAK too. We are having sunshine for a change and the steady sea breeze helps children fly their kites on the beach.

It looks tempting from the house

Nice breeze for flying kites

But the sea is still dangerously rough. Tnree  weeks ago a boy who was about to sit for his SPM examination was drowned in the sea not far from here. The strong under-current had drawn him into the deep water beyond. It is a sad story.
Watch that wave

It is fascinating to sit on the soft sand and watch the formation of waves and how they gather speed and strength only to BREAK with huge splashes, unrolling and laying sheets after sheets of beautiful white foams along the vast stretches of sandy beach.

I can sit all day

Only this deep we are allowed 

Roll on to me !

Crawl like a crab coming from the sea

To be sure that all play and no work does not make Jack a dull boy, these two long-and-bushy haired kids  are given small doses of English, Maths, Physics and Chemistry in preparation for their early Form 4 days in January. That is on the assumption that they would be allowed to continue studying at Victoria Institution. For a start they have been warned that they would not be allowed to see their PMR results if they turn up with untrimmed hair as they are today.

Let's play the guitar
And forget the PMR
And will these two young boys have all A’s in their PMR? Their parents did not achieve all A’s before them and their grandparents did not even have such an examination to sit during their time. So what is the fuss? For all the lack of ‘esteem’ we, as a family, have survived better than we deserve. Alhamdulillah.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan  

16 November 2012

End of the Tunnel ( Pt 20 ) – You can’t win them all

This should have been posted early this month.

Unusually early for visitors, two ex-Almanar pupils turned up at our home, both wearing sad faces.

Pakcik, berita tak baik. Nor Haliza meninggal, (Bad news Pakcik. Nor Haliza has passed away.)” The two girls burst out almost simultaneously, letting off bottled up emotion, and eyes beginning to brim with tears.

Happy days by the sea

Nor Haliza’s father pensioned from the army about twenty years ago. I am fortunate to have Pak Hashim’s three children attending classes at Almanar. The eldest of three, Azmi has just qualified as a dentist after three years in Indonesia, and is now waiting to be posted, hopefully at KT general hospital. The third, Azrol, is a medical student at a local university.

On her way home from work, this charming 25-year-old lass was knocked down in a road accident involving two motor-cycles, leaving her in a coma and she never regained consciousness; just a couple of months after sitting for her final degree examination and barely a month from her convocation.

According two her two friends, the deceased had  recently been telling them that she would be applying for a job far away from home and would not be looking after her dear mother. Who could have thought that she was looking forwards to her appoinment with the Ultimate Planner?

Parents - mission accomplished
Sadly, we have lost our only daughter

A dentist (R) and a medical student(L)
We have lost our only sister - but life goes on

This is a story Pakcik was hoping to write one day, that of a successful end-of-the-tunnel series. I was confident to see three winners in this family. Little did I realise that I would be sending my second ex-Almanar pupil on her final journey. ( My first was End of the Tunnel Pt 17 – click here )

I could hardly hold my tears when I saw the vehicle leaving her home on her final journey after a small group of us said our prayers in the home she was talking of leaving. I used to have a dream that in that small house there would live an aged army pensioner and wife, and three offspring, a dentist, a scientist and a medical doctor. No, it is not destined to be.

Alas, we can't win them all.

I have said goodbye to two of my loved ones. May Allah have mercy on them. And my condolences to their families.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.

07 November 2012

Let’s Twist Again – Not Chubby Checker’s

This is nothing to do with that song, Let’s Twist Again, made famous by  Chubby Checker in 1960’s, over which Pakcik’s age group went crazy doing the ‘twist’,  or doing the ‘rock’ to Bill Haley’s Rock Round The Clock. No, this is something more serious.

This morning Makcik and Pakcik decided to accompany a husband-and-wife couple to town.  They are our close friends, known to Pakcik from my school days in 1950’s.This morning the wife was going for her second appointment with an acupuncture practitioner. She was suffering from weak knees. For that matter, who at our age does not have some weak spots somewhere? Her husband, still very active in tennis, has knee problems too.  Makcik has her complaints and I have mine no less. But we all pretend to be young and strong like a hundred-year oak tree with all the knots and twists.  

Accordingly, while the wife was being treated by a Chinese lady Makcik decided that she too should also have a go, and she did. While the ladies were having their needles in one room my friend and Pakcik sat talking to the lady’s husband, also a practitioner. Knowing our interest in his medical practice he  began to tell us about his grandfather who came to Malaya from China bringing with him the special skill that was handed to his father and later to him and wife. That does not end there. One son is practicing at a hospital. Another son and a daughter are now undergoing the course in China. ( What are we doing with our children, forcing into them biology, chemistry and all to become doctors? )  By then I was sufficiently conned into admitting that I had been having slight pains in my shoulder joints whenever I tried to TWIST my upper arms to reach for something behind my back.

Before I knew it I was already unbuttoning my shirt. Needles after needles were planted on my shoulder, knees and feet. I thought there must be about a dozen of them, and I must be beginning to look like a balding hedgehog.  But I would not dare to look directly at them. There was no real pain which I had been anticipating. Instead it was gentle wriggling of the needles here and there – at the nerve nodes, according to him. Hardly five minutes later the good ‘doctor  asked me to  do the ‘TWIST  with my upper arms to feel the lessening pain. I am not sure whether it was auto-suggestion or fear that made me admit that the pain had indeed lessened. After a bit more of wriggling and twisting of the needles he began to pull them out and threw the used needles into a waste paper basket. Well, I thought, there was no fear of being infected with that dreaded whatever. My friend, who was watching the act throughout confirmed the use of new needles on me.

Finally my good wife was poorer by sixty ringgits and I was by fortyone hundred in all for two. I think my friend is going to be the next to do the TWIST.

And now, as I am writing this, I recall the time I had

an attack of Bell’s Palsy three years ago ( posting of

21st Nov 2009 - click here ). In that posting I noted

down that Awang Goneng had suggested acupuncture after doing a well researched thesis on Bell’s palsy. On hindsight if I had followed that advice the duration of my embarrassing ‘half smile’ suffering could have been a few days shorter.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan