18 September 2010

End of the tunnel ( Pt. 9 ) – from burger stall to MRI T.0 Tesla

Din, the name I prefer to use at times, is today a young man of twenty three.

Nine years ago Din joined our tuition class at Al-Manar after getting 2A’s, 2B’s and 1C for his UPSR. That was not much of a result to boast about. Under better circumstances, if life had not been rather hard on him, I am quite certain he would have done better. His father, now in his mid fifty and like many man folks in the area, has been depending on the generosity of the rough South China Sea for livelihood. According to Din his father began his ‘apprenticeship’ at sea as young as eight. This, too, is nothing new in this part of the world. And Din’s mother helps to supplement the family’s earning, working for keropok makers and operating a burger stall in front of their house. Din himself helped out at the stall, making it hard on him to attend Al-Manar classes regularly.

So if we talk about making burgers, Din knows all the tricks.

From the UPSR results of 2A’s,2B’s and 1C, Din improved his academic performance three years later to gain 5A’s and 3B’s for his PMR. He went on to do it even better two years later to score 7A’s and 2B’s in his SPM examination. Seeing how hard he worked, not forgetting his commitment to the burger stall, Pakcik knew that I had not yet seen Din at his best.

“Pakcik apa patut saya buat? ( What should I do ?)” was his question when his SPM results were known. Now he wanted to map out his future. Whatever it might be, he wanted to start something that he could realistically expect success. He did not want any uncertainty.

We discussed at length various possible courses for someone like him who did not make all A’s at SPM. Personally he would like to see himself doing a hospital-related job. That being the case, and having excellent results particularly in science subjects and mathematics, backed by reasonably good English, he should go for a diploma in radiography. The odds would be against him to compete for a place to do medicine. For Din there was no room to gamble. Ukur baju dibadan sendiri. With a good diploma in radiography he would be able to find a job and would still have the opportunity to continue for a degree in due course.

It had already been decided between us that joining Kelas Metrikulasi should be avoided. Accordingly, Din sent his applications and a month later he received three offers one of which came from a university hospital for a diploma course in radiography. This was one which he wanted most; but he needed to get through an interview.

Din had no idea what an interview was like and how he should conduct himself. To give him all the confidence he needed Pakcik lent him a book on radiography and pointed out parts he should try to familiarise himself. A few days later we sat rehearsing mock interviews. It amazed me to see how much of the subject he had digested from the book. So, reasonably assured of himself he left for KL.

When Din returned to brief Pakcik how his interview was conducted, I was reasonably certain he would make it. I had my doubt any normal candidates could engage on a discussion on radiography as he could. Indeed, a couple of weeks later he turned up with a broad smile. He did it.


Din spent the next three years shuttling between KL and KT, never failed to brief Pakcik of his progress each time he returned home.

It was not all in vain. Din did it in style. At the end of the course he topped the group, emerging the only one in the Dean’s list. He was particularly happy realising that his brilliant achievement was his greatest reward to Pakcik. For that performance he was given a choice to start his contractual service at the university hospital or continue on a course leading to a degree in radiography. Following a brief discussion Din expressed what he personally preferred, “Pakcik, I would like to work for a couple of years to save some money. Then I will join the degree course.” I supported the idea. A couple of years’ experience would stand him in good stead to perform well for his first degree course and beyond. However, deep in my heart I knew the true reason for his preference to work first before continuing for a degree - to earn some money so that his family would see the first ringgit from him.


Early next month Din will start working at the unversity hospital, and have the satisfaction of seeing the fruit of his patience and sweat over the years.

I have a vision that Din will ultimately be at university lecturing in radiography.

I have a vision, too, that many years into the distant future, his children will sit around him listening how their father once operated a burger stall, and how their grandfather rode the rough sea, all for them to emerge from the long dark tunnel. The children will realise how far his father has travelled from frying burgers to operating a sophisticated MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) T.O Tesla machine. I wish him all the best.
Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.


Wan Salwa Wan Hassan said...

This is a testimony of triumph of the human spirit over hardship made possible with a little helping hand from a kind soul.

Congratulations to both of You!!!


ninotaziz said...

I am humbled.

Anonymous said...

Dear Pakcik

It is amazing how someone without any previous teaching experience can inspire students like Din and others in your End of the tunnel series. Imagine if you were a Kirkby trained teacher like Miss you know who ... !!!

It is success story like this that must have put extra springs in your steps, congratulations ...



kaykuala said...

Dear Pakcik,
You are a blessed soul personally involved in the makings of good beings. It was such a moving story. I remember an earlier story, one of the girl also with a keropok background and who later became a professional. Give us more!

azie said...

such an inspiring story pakcik..i like it very much.

dah lama tak singgah ke sini, selamat hari raya pakcik =)

Al-Manar said...

It is for all of us to be aware of other people's real need, not just financially. It may be in the form of time spent to enlighten them. Our greatest asset is the experience we have in life. Money does not give what knowledge and experience can.

Al-Manar said...


I truly admire the unusual varied talents you have and am certain you have your own projects as your service to the needy.

abdulhalimshah said...

Pak Cik,
You should inspire amongst those who had benefited from your altruistic service to mankind the same contributions in like manner.
Thus the Sadaqah Jariah will be a perpetual one, InshaALLAH! Allahu Akbar.

Al-Manar said...


What you have been doing counts more than what I do. You do not realise it, or choose not to. I tell of a few success stories not of the 99% failures. There is a lot more of them which people do not see. I have so far given some hints. You have given me an idea to star a new series 'the tunnel that collapses'!

Al-Manar said...

Dear Hank,

They may be moving stories. The failures are plenty and they sadden me to think let alone to write about. I fear if I do write I will start putting the blames on others, political and all.
Salaam to you.

kotastar said...

SdrPak Chik,

Din will not forget to tell his children re his gratitude to you. I am glad to read yr story and Din's resolute focus.Ada guru bimbingan di sekolah sekarang tapi sejauh mana mereka membantu seperti sdr telah menunjukkan jalan dan persediaan.Pl point to me yr earlier stories re the tuition center that you manage.Need to know more. Terima kasih dan taniah kepada sdr serta Din dan kawan2.

Wan Sharif said...

I cried..

Al-Manar said...


Singgahlah bila ada masa. Sekurang kurangnya dapat baca sedikit sebanyak buah fikiran seorang warga mas yang tidak cukup hidup tanpa cabara. I like to hear your views, complimentary aside.

I like the sound of you being 'in woderland'. It is a kind of puzzle to Pakcik.I will pay a visit and guess the answer - and may even ask you whether it is right or wrong.

Al-Manar said...


You are a person with experience. It is indeed my hope that Din and the likes of him will, as this blog attempts to do, propagate the belief that many unfortunate children need personal counselling and whatever we can offer of our experience.

I will drop you a note shortly.
Salaam to you and family.

Al-Manar said...

Are you still too busy to update your writing? - out on gas exploration or away in the country helping people rearing cattle, or back on Pulau Duyung building fishig boats.

Whatever it is my regards to you and family

Al-Manar said...

I made a mistake by deleting the following message from you:

Wan Sharif has left a new comment on your post "End of the tunnel ( Pt. 9 ) – from burger stall to...":

Dear PakCik ,
I was a tad busy chasing rainbows ( entertaining my mum and relatives) in the land of rainbows.. In Malaysian Khartoum( KL I mean) I was helping my farmer friends to import the hydroponics for MAHA scheduled to commence late Nov or early Dec 2010.
They went oversea Saturday morning to get the documentation etc. right..
I became his sounding board to get things right.. we have to tread very carefully as some might not in favor of our activity. Hopefully we get sufficient support to make it happen for our beloved country..
Your comment on my writing has warmed my heart.. Thank you so much for your feedback.. but seriously I do cried.. one for the similarity of the subject of your entry to my early life.. the other for that little helping hand..
My family salam to you and your family and may Allah bless us and ours.. Sokmo, sokmo..


I guessed right that you were busy. I truly hope that your hydroponocs venture will sail through without any one putting the spanner in the wheel.

Good luck.

Al-Manar said...


It is my fervent hope that the knowledge imparted will continue to be handed down the line. Isn't this what we all hope for?

Thank you akhil aziz.

Anonymous said...

Congrats... I remember several students who motivate themselves to be like Din. They have many siblings and came from poor family and they managed to change their life due to good education and determination...

Al-Manar said...

Thank you for trying to share something with us. Din is not unique. The likes of him are there and with help they will succeed.

Sir Pök Déng said...

End of tunnel. What a good metaphor.

Not many people like Din can do what he has done to change his life.

I also have a story to share.

The characters in this story has no relation with me. It was told by a lawyer cum lecturer of Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM, formerly known as ATMA).

He told me he has a younger sister. He didn't say she's pretty but he noted that she has rejected my marriage proposals, and many many many men out there wanted to be with her. She also has a good profession, being a lawyer too.

One interesting thing about her is that, she loves Ramly Burger. So she always roamed about town to find the best Ramly Burger's stall.

Until she found one. Coincidently, the man who take care of the business (the one who grills the patty meat) liked her. So he made his move. He was sincere too. He was a nice guy and the female lawyer liked him too.

But the man did not have higher educational background to boast about. The woman he liked was a lawyer and he was only a burger seller.

By the power of love, the female lawyer helped him out to find a suitable private learning institution for him and she paid the education fees.

She waited the man until he successfully graduated. They got married soon after that. The man now works as a CEO of a private company. They're now living a happy and comfort life.

Kadang-kadang kita ini ada kemahuan untuk berjaya. Cuma mungkin ada dua sebab yang mengahalang:
(1) Tidak tahu jalan perlu diambil
(2) Tiada keazaman untuk berjaya

The burger seller was at point (1).

ninotaziz said...

Tumpang laluan Pakcik.

Sir Pok Deng,
I love your story for so many reasons which I shall keep to myself. It is a lovely indication that not everybody looks to worldly materials. I am glad it worked out for them.

Thnak you for sharing.

Sir Pök Déng said...


You're welcome miss/ma'am. I hoped he (the lecturer-lawyer) did not made up that story. Haha.

He shared the story when I was attending a seminar organized by Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi. Absolutely not BTN of course. He addressed some issues regarding the state of Malaysian universities being looked down by our own people bla bla bla yada yada yada kebabom.

The story he shared had caused deep impact within me. He said at the end of the story, "THAT is LOVE ladies and gentlemen!" and everybody was awestruck by such beautiful ending.

I'm not like Din. I scored straight A's in UPSR, then repeated the same success in PMR. But finally fell down for SPM exam. Managed to enter higher learning institution walau apa pun. But I graduated with CGPA below 2.75. How will I get a job for that atas tanduk CGPA? I don't know.

This story of Din does not reflect me at all, even though my name is Din too.

But I'm grateful for the things happened to me. I learnt many things about life. :)

Anonymous said...

good points and the details are more specific than elsewhere, thanks.

- Norman

Al-Manar said...

Pk Deng, Sir,

I appreciate your willingness to share the story and to give us a glimpse of your early self - from excellence to lack-lustre (and finally to knighthood!). Your comment invited my much-respected visitor,Nintazis to respond. Thank you, Sir.

Al-Manar said...

Thank you for second visit that drew Sir Pok Deng to share a bit more of his mysterious self.

Al-Manar said...


I do not recall having seen your leaving comment before. As you see I appreciate interaction among us, that we keep reminded of the world outside ours. I have my email address shown for those who want to sent 'personal' comments, which I would certainly respond accordingly.
Salaam from Pakcik

Anonymous said...

Dear Pakcik,
this story really inspires me to keep going forward to achieve my ambition. .As a pupil I want do my best for my SPM examination next year. Seriously I'm not brilliant. Would you give me some advice how to succeed like him?

-Halimatul (HS)

Al-Manar said...

Coming from a family like yours, a daughter of a senior university lecturer, you have little to worry about. During the period you were at Almanar I did not have any worry over your performance. At a good boarding school where you are, just maintain your steady pace. You are very welcome to see Pakcik whenever you feel lke doing so. Just give me a ring.
Good luck yo you.

Anonymous said...

amimy01, oh i can cetainly vouch for Pakcik possessing an armour of "previous teaching experience" ! afterall, aren't we all 'teachers' sharing whatever's worth of our our experience, to our siblings, children, friends and all.

pakcik's no.2

Al-Manar said...


Pakcik's no.2 seems to speak from experience. Yes, perhaps we are all 'teachers' in a broad sense of the word. We have to be careful,though, what we intend by 'teaching' does not become 'nagging' to the recipients.

Anonymous said...

May U & family be blessed always.
Very noble indeed. Alhamdulillah.
I believe there are many others out there who do their noble deed quietly kerana Allah SWT.

Al-Manar said...


Waalkmsalaam. Thank you. Indeed there are many who wish no publicity for the work they do.

Anonymous said...

Salam Pakcik minta laluan

Pakcik's no 2: perhaps I should have written ''without any formal teacher training or formal teaching experience'' !!!

I salute Pakcik/Makcik for what they are doing and doa that they be blessed with long life and good health to continue with their unique good work. The three of you are so blessed to have have such parents.


Anonymous said...

Indeed,this post touches my feeling.What a long and hard journey you had with your friends to get to KL from KT. Life today is totally different from before. Time goes on. New generations seem to be like 'kacang lupakan kulit', forgetting what has brought them be where they are today. I hope something will make them realise. insyaAllah. By the way,salam aidilfitri to Pak Cik and family.On this Eid,I want to seek for forgiveness from you for any my wrong doings. I love you,Pak Cik and Mak Cik.


Al-Manar said...


Both of us know you have what it takes to succeed. You are one of the fine example among the ex Almanar. Keep us informed how you get on with our studies.
Love fro Pakcik and Makcik

Anonymous said...

This is a nice post and this can help me alot in my college assignement. I say thank you you.

Al-Manar said...


I am glad if it can help to motivate you. Good luck and all the best to you.

Are you a former pupil of Almanar?