18 November 2008

PakCik Reminisces (Part 5) – 11-11-11

This is a delayed posting. Strictly it should have been done at 11am on 11th day of the 11th month of this year.

It was like an automatic alarm trying to tell Pak Cik something when I was murmuring to myself, “Oh sebelas haribulan November, dah hari ni” ( Oh, it’s already 11th November today). Pak Cik said that as a matter of fact as I was viewing my teaching itinerary for the day. Somehow that 11/11 rang a bell deep in my subconscious mind. Then, seeking an answer to the alarm I repeated, “ Eleven, eleven?”. Then it clicked, a picture of a blood red poppy emerged - the Poppy Day, the Armistice Day !

Armistice Day of what war is that? It is the first World War, sometimes referred to as the Great War of 1917-1918. It started with antagonism between Austria-Hungary on one hand and Serbia on the other. Germany was allied to the former whilst Russia was to Serbia . A chain of alliances, brought in Russia , France , Britain and finally USA . The whole antagonism and conflict were brought to a climax in a war which lasted for four years, leaving a total of twenty million people perished in and outside the battlefields.

Finally, the war ended with an armistice that was signed at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 – the day known as the Armistice Day. So 11 am of 11/11 of 1908 marked the 80th anniversary of that Great War in which Malaya was never involved. But being part of that colonial power we were made to ‘honour the dead’. Pak Cik recall those annual events, and it stays there, deep in my memory, brought to the surface on mentioning 11/11.

The Remembrance Day was well known among us in Malaya as the Poppy Day. Apparantly, poppy plants were seen to bloom after the war well across some of the worst World War I battlefields in Flanders. (Note : Flanders is a geographical region located in parts of present day Belgium, France and Netherlands.) The red colour of poppy flowers was the reminiscence of the bloodshed. Coincidentally, a famous Canadian poet had the following line in his poem, Flanders Field,

“ …………...
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row

It was then seen appropriate for poppy flowers to be adopted as a symbol of the bloodshed of the Great War.

As I mentioned above, Malaya was never involved in the war, unlike the Second World War. We were, nevertheless part of a great power. The rest followed without question. Before Merdeka, during Pak Cik’s childhood days, 11th November, the Poppy Day was celebrated. Poppies made of fine red cloth material were distributed along the pavements of shop houses and everywhere. Each had a pin that could fasten the false flower to the front of your dress. “ A poppy, sir?” a girl or boy, holding a tray of them, would offer you. On accepting one you were expected to push a coin or two through the slot of a tin hanging from one arm – donations to the to welfare fund of the war victims

That belongs to Pak Cik’s past. And today you, ex-pupils of Almanar, read and hear of such tale as related above. What of it, one may ask. What is it to me? Is it just ‘a tale told by an idiot’? We hear of wars everywhere. Question yourselves, “Are we not lucky that we are safe and sound?” I, Pak Cik, belong to the past generation. Nothing matters very much to me any more. But many things matter to you. Work and prioritise what needs doing. Be ready for any dark tunnel that you may have to go through.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan


Anonymous said...

diNda commented:

Sometimes I don’t want to go through Pak Cik’s blog because it brings tooooo many memories, happy, sad and fun, all coming together. I just can’t stop my tears when I remember what Pak Cik have done for all of us. Now I have stepped into a new phase in my life but I will never ever forget the person named Pak Cik Hassan.


Al-Manar said...

I am pleased you have been one of my ex-Almanar visitors and now have chosen to put a comment. Would you please send me an email to identify yourself? Please do.

Kak Teh said...

Abang Ngah, what a wonderful account! Please I have to link you in my blog.
Oh Taufiq didnt make it to Malaysia last hols as intended because of his exams. But Hafiz and Rehana are going this January - only two weeks but I really want them to meet up with you, especially Hafiz.

Salam and lots of love to Kak Mah.

Al-Manar said...

We will be delighted to see the two kids (are they still?).
Half an hour before Abang Ngah saw your comment we received an sms from Hadi who worked in our embassy’s office in London for several years in early 1980’s (when we got to know them quite well) before being posted in Japan.It was a sad news about the death of their third child, a girl of about 23, a wonderfully strong girl. Like her elder brother who died several years ago, this girl,Nurul Syifa, died of thalassemia too. Only three months ago Syifa took her mother, Mahfuzah, for a holiday on Pulau Redang. She worked with a tourist agency and earned that free trip with her mother.She insisted on her mother to have that holiday with her. By her look we knew she was rather ill, but she never showed it while they were in our house for a couple of days, chattering cheerfully most of the.time. She was admitted into a hospital in KL about ten days ago but braved herself to send off her mother to Mecca last week. What a girl she was. Alfathihah.

Kak Teh said...

Al Fatehah. That is really sad. I am sure the name Hadi rings a bell.
I am glad i found your url again and i have now linked it in my blog so that it is easier for me to come here. Awang Goneng dok cokkoh di depan tu. Hari ni sejuk sangat - icy cold.

Yes, I hope the children will find time - it is only two weeks. Entah laa.
Oh they are no longer kids.
We miss you abang ngah and Kak Mah. Its difficult for me to say this without tears in my eyes.
take care. we love you lots.

Anonymous said...

where you come from!