26 July 2009

The End of the Tunnel – In Sight (Part 4)

“How can I accept this boy with 1A, 2C and 2D at UPSR?” I questioned and moaned.

English ----------D
Mathematics --- D
Science --------- C
Malay ( comp)-- C
Malay (writing)- A

On the basis of these results, after six years at school, what chances has he in the academic world? He is already on the alien rocky moon surface, not just a non-level playing field. For that matter can he qualify to compete in a feather-weight championship, if boxing is the game? These were the questions running through my mind ten years ago. Sadly, the same questions still run through my mind today despite several claims made that ours is a state having spectacular UPSR results for years and years. UPSR results such as shown above, and even worse, are still prevalent today.

The boy in question is generally known as Lan. Being somewhat lanky, taller than many of his peers, he is sometimes called ‘Pak Lan’. Now, two months after the UPSR exam results were known, a relative of his approached Pak Cik for his admission into form 1 class at Almanar. Almanar is never fussy over UPSR results. One with 3B and 2C is good enough to be admitted, but Lan’s performance cast great doubt over his ability to keep up with the rest. I expressed my reservation so. Just as I was marshalling more arguments to justify my turning down his request, he dropped the bomb-shell.

“Dia anak yatim (He is an orphan),” was a simple statement, an assault against which Pak Cik can never have a defence. Almanar, as a rule, has to bend backwards for an orphan, full stop.

It was a sad story. Lan’s father, a general worker, was killed when a lorry crashed into his motorcycle three years earlier. His mother refused to entertain the idea of allowing her son to have a stepfather, how hard her life might be to raise her loved ones. Perhaps, Lan’s performance in UPSR exam was a reflection of the hard life that followed.

Thus, Lan became a new form 1 pupil at Almanar. His withdrawn nature gave Pak Cik a cause to worry. But he followed every lesson diligently, getting from Pak Cik a bit more attention than the rest of the class in English and Mathematics. Over the weeks and months Lan grew in confidence, absorbing practically everything being dished out to him. His performance graph was climbing steadily. By the end of form 3 he must have committed into memory not less than 2500 new English words, as expected of Almanar’s pupils.

Then came the big surprise. PMR exam at the end of 2003 saw Lan getting away with the following results:.

English ------------- A
Mathematics ------- A
Kemahiran Hidup -- A
+ 5 other subjects - B

So Lan had done it his way.

Last week, after a long silence, Lan surfaced from nowhere at Pak Cik’s house, Nuri. He was a picture of confidence, wearing a thin layer of dark beard under his chin, a token of maturity, perhaps. His appearance was a reunion of some sort for the two of us. We had a lot to talk about of the years he was at Almanar.

“All has gone well, Pak Cik, and in November, God willing, I will get my diploma in Mechanical Engineering. What do you suggest I do then, Pak Cik?”

Yes, it is just a Diploma, nothing glamorous, a far cry from a degree in medicine, accountancy and so on. But he was a poor candidate to begin with, hardly qualified as a feather-weight competitor – yet a champion in his own right he will soon be. I am happy for him and his loving mother.

“Get a job first and look after your mother. She has waited long enough. Later on, with some practical experience, you can think of going further to be a full fledged engineer.”

“Thank you, Pak Cik. I think I will do that,” he responded. His grin began to fade as he picked up his hankerchief to dab his watery eyes. Was it the tender thought of his mother ? Blessed is a son who thinks so.

Having regained his composure he whispered,“By the way, Pak Cik, I top my class in English!” That was meant to be a reward for Pak Cik.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.

23 July 2009

Many happy returns of the day

Encik Ramli of When Less Is More blog sent the following comment for Pak Cik’s posting.

“As I celebrate my 59 years young tomorrow, thank you for stating the fact that we were the young cyclists from Bkt Jelutung.”

I have not only known him but enjoyed reading detailed records of his cycling trips, and I never cease to wonder how he and his friends have the stamina and enthususiasm to do what I wish I were able to do. Since his last entry is on his cycling tour via Almanar I would seek his permission to have it copied here. I would want to have the pictures of his five gallant cycling friends recorded in my blog.



True to his National Geographic bandana he wore, he knew the nooks and corners of the East Coast. Even had a stake in a fresh-fish breeding project. His motto is "Ride to Eat". Rides a 26" Dahon foldable bike similar to Zaba's.


Our Mr Gadget. I was fascinated with his USB-driven external speaker hanged on the handle bar. Connected to his PDA, he had a medley of Hindi songs, old P Ramli songs and some hip-hops. Rides the Dahon 20" foldable bike.


The Rambo of BJCC. Before taking up cycling, he was a gym guy. He used to pump irons. Now he pumps tyres. Rides a Dahon 26" foldable bike.


The only non-Brooks guy in the team and now a full-fledged Brooks rider. Rides his Merida Hybrid, his first bike before upgrading to a racer. Slim and trim, the envy of other BJCC tourers.


The most "hardworking" tourer. He had 1 puncture and 2 slow-leaks and 18 visits to the toilet. Rides a full-fledged Bianchi tourer.


To En Ramli I would say this:

Happy birthday to you, Ramli.

When I was leaving my 59th I was kind of sad that so much time had been lost. I had then just started Almanar. When I was leaving my 69th I was equally sad that more years had gone by; but this time I was grateful that something worthwhile had been started and some success had begun to show from Almanar. Now I just look forwards.

I pray that many good things will be on your way.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.

19 July 2009

It’s not for you

Looking straight into my eyes Ramli, the group leader said, “It’s not for you ……” In his right hand was a thick roll of crisp one-hundred and fifty ringgit banknotes.

The group of six tough cyclists from Bukit Jelutung, headed by Ramli (of When Less Is More), arrived at Nuri’s gate at about a quarter past six. They had leisurely spent about ten hours on to get here from Dungun. Indeed they had had their meals and rests on the way, but for the life of me I could never have done the journey. How I envy the joy of their ride. See BCJJ GOES EAST COAST - DAY 1

I had known Ramli for some time but not the rest of his great gang, hefty ‘young’ men of various professions. In this rural backwater it is a rare treat and so refreshing to be sitting with people with different backgrounds. It was rather unfortunate that my ‘mak cik’ was away in Kuala Lumpur occupied with her (mine, too, of course!) children and grandchildren. I was the host of the house and all. I could not very well prepare a dinner for these visitors beyond rice, boiled eggs and omelets. So I took them to a kampong restaurant. Fortunately they seemed to enjoy whatever was left of the food. But that was not all. Before they left the following morning the great Pak Cik had two platefuls of keropok lekor fried for them. I did it all my way.

How I wished they would stay longer. But their schedule was such that they had to leave early en route to Kuala Besut and thence to Kota Bharu. We shook hands bidding farewell and selamat jalan. It was then Ramli, the leader, surprised me with his ‘handshake’.

“It’s not for you. This is our contribution to Almanar.” Taken off guard, how else could I response other than a feeble ‘Thank you’?

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.