What do you want to be when you grow up?
As sure as the sky is blue and the grass is green, every child gets asked this time-honoured question at least once. And be prepared for a plethora of answers, from the predictable to the unexpected, for children have the ability to astound when you least expect it.
Amidst the astronauts, marine biologists, accountants, fashion designers, architects, forensic scientists (no doubt influenced by TV series CSI), archaeologists, doctors, veterinarians, geologists, engineers and pilots, one tiny voice, hardly six years old, wanted to be a futures trader.
That he could elucidate what it meant made it even more remarkable. The tyke even knew he could either be a millionaire or a pauper in the blink of an eye, making or losing by the bundles, in his preferred choice of career.
In the long-ago days of my own childhood in mining outpost Bukit Besi, Terengganu, the answers to that perennial question would be as predictable as the annual monsoon season.
Rural kids who had never ventured beyond the confines of their hamlets and villages, whose take on the world was limited to only what they learned in school, would faithfully recite from a woefully meagre list as their respective career choices.
Not one would stray beyond the parameter of doctor, engineer, pilot, lawyer, teacher, nurse, policeman and soldier. The fact that I wanted to be a wartawan (journalist) from the time I entered school in 1961 turned me into a curiosity of sorts.
Wartawang tu abender? (What in the world is wartawan?). But I knew what I wanted and never once wavered from that choice. I was fortunate enough to have had very supportive grandparents and teachers who never put a damper on my ambition.
This topic came to mind by virtue of my potpet (musings/ramblings) with my chatter friend Fidd who dropped by the other day. I asked after her comely firstborn, Ika, whom I had not seen for quite a while.
Ika is already in her last lap in university. A girl of exceptional beauty with a brain to match, she is studying engineering in Universiti Teknologi Petronas. But Ika had many run-ins with her mother prior to entering Uni, all because she had set her mind to becoming a fashion designer.
Mum was naturally displeased. Actually, livid was more like it. "With a string of As in the sciences and all you could think of is fashion designing?" I could almost hear Fidd screeching.
On her part, a peeved Ika challenged her mother to 'think outside the box'. Poor Fidd, a tried and tested pegawai kerajaan (government officer), was ready to land a box or two at the girl's ear for her perceived impudence.
They did come to an understanding eventually. To mollify Fidd, Ika agreed to pursue engineering, with the option of doing "what I really want to do" when the engineering scroll is safely in Fidd's hands.
Ika should be graduating soon. From what I heard, she wanted to go back to school - Limkokweng University, in all probability - to study fashion design. Whatever her future holds, I wish her all the best.