Friday, October 17, 2008

What Will Be, Will Be ( III )

IF at all there was any resolution made during that soul-searching year-end school holiday of 1971, it was this: no way was I going back to a science class. Instead I would try to worm my way into Form Five Arts, whatever the cost.

Of course it was easier said than done as later events proved. In any case, the Form Five Arts class teacher I poured my heart out to upon returning to STF, understood my predicament and allowed me to join her class.

And so it was that I took my place at the back row of Form Five Arts, Class of 1972, Sekolah Tun Fatimah, happy as a lark, with a spring in my step and a lilt in my voice. I felt rejuvenated. I had a renewed sense of purpose. The dark clouds had finally lifted. So I thought.

Three months into Form Five Arts, all of us MCE exam candidates had to fill in some forms, one of which required us to list our examination subjects. Soon enough, I found myself ushered into the office of the headmistress, Cik K.

Cik K wanted to know why I listed Arts stream subjects for MCE when I was a Pure Science student. What happened to Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Additional Mathematics? Cornered, I told her the truth about switching streams.

She went red in the face and launched into a tirade, chiding me for my brazen action. “You are not allowed to switch streams. You were sent here to do Science and you shall do Science. If you insist on doing Arts, you can’t stay in STF. You have to leave. I shall not have you switching streams in this school.”

I pleaded. I cajoled. I wept. I begged and implored her to make an exception in my case. I appealed to her conscience and beseeched her for mercy. I promised her I would not let the school down. I told her I knew I would rise to the occasion in Arts.

I might as well be talking to a brick wall. She shut her mind to my pleas and repeated the threat of kicking me out of STF altogether should I fail to return to Science on the double. And then she asked me to leave her room, but not before giving me a parting shot. I have never forgotten those words and never will.

If I ever see you in the Arts class again, you better pack your bags because you are not staying here. You can go back to your old school. But mark my word. You won’t be able to cope and you shall fail your MCE miserably.”

My last day in STF was the hardest ever. I never thought I would leave in such an ignominious manner. Simply put, I was kicked out of an elite school for the 'unforgiveable crime' of switching streams.

I did not breach any school rules nor was I hauled up for any grievous misdeeds. All I did was switch from Science to Arts. But my action was unacceptable to the headmistress of STF. There was no compassion for me. So I had to leave.

The MCE exam was topmost in my mind. I would not take a chance on Chemistry just to remain in STF. If I had to go in order to succeed, I would, everything else be damned.

Actually I was extremely disappointed that Cik K didn't see it fit to give me a running chance. I attributed it to my lack of history in STF. Had I been with the school from the beginning, I don't think I would have been so shoddily treated.

There was a shocked silence when I reported for class in Dungun English Secondary School at the beginning of second term. I felt so small, my tail tucked between my legs.

But never underestimate the power of true friendship. Once the mist had cleared, everyone rallied around and I found myself back among old friends. And the teachers were simply great. One thing about provincial schools; the caring was genuine.

I knew I was at a disadvantage. I had lost one full year of lessons in certain subjects, but I had no choice but to take those subjects to fulfil exam requirements. I had to replace the four Pure Science subjects that I gave up with four others from the Arts grouping.

I opted for General Science, Mathematics, History and Malay Literature. The first two were a shoo-in but the subsequent two were tough as hell since I had to start from scratch, having to cover Form Four work as well.

So I crammed like crazy. I covered Malay Literature and History in six months instead of the standard two years. I was single-minded in my pursuit. I must excel in MCE, just to prove to the STF headmistress that I wasn't the birdbrain she took me to be.

Malay Literature wasn't easy. Without any foundation, one would not be able to understand a single thing. But I had a wonderfully patient teacher who understood my predicament and spent time guiding me though the literary maze.

That teacher is today the well-known but humble Datuk Mustafa Ali, the PAS Commissioner of Terengganu. To him I owe a big portion of my academic success. Cikgu Pa, THANK YOU.

It's true what they say about every cloud having a silver lining. Mine came in the form of Cikgu Jawariah Mohamud, an angel of a cikgu, who taught English .

Upon learning of my deep interest in and affinity with the language, she took me under her wings, lending me books and helping me with my writing. I was pleasantly surprised to learn Cik Jawariah too was a former student of STF (Class of 1964).

And she penned the following comforting words in my autograph book: "Science is for those who learn; poetry, for those who know." J. Roux.

The day the MCE results were announced, I was among the first to arrive in school to collect mine. I knew I had done my best and I was prepared for any eventuality.

My hands shook when the result slip was handed to me but the smile on my teacher's face comforted me somewhat.

Given the circumstances, my results, while not spectacular, were more than decent. I scored distinctions in both English and Bahasa Malaysia, and a string of credits elsewhere.

Both my grandparents shed happy tears. I didn't. I just bawled. Grandpa wrote a long, stinging letter to Cik K, detailing my MCE results. Of course there was no reply.

Me? I didn't waste much time celebrating because Sixth Form beckoned invitingly in Sultan Sulaiman Secondary School, Kuala Terengganu. But that's another story.


Kak Teh said...

Puteri, this reminds me of the day I begged, pleaded with Head of School of Mass Comm to be allowed into that school because I just couldnt cope being in Business School. I couldnt count - i said, but I think I can write...the school was already over subscribed..but I gave my muka welfare look and threatened to leave. That did it.

Well, good for you Puteri. My sister suffered just because the system wanted more malays in scinece stream. She could have done a lot better in Arts stream.

So, you were in Sultan Sulaimang?

I must say St Nicholas Convent is still the best - oh, this is for Sue, just in case she comes back.

Anonymous said...

The b*!?# of a headmistress. Was Cik K an andartu ?

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Kak Teh - you were lucky the head was sympathetic to your case.

Sultan Sulaiman it was..form six 1973.

Anon - betul... :)

AuntieYan @ Makcik Blogger said...

Salam Kak Puteri...

Ha, hari ni baru I tahu the real reason kelibat you tidak lagi kelihatan di STF after that year.

Cik K??...ayooo!...dia memang berwajah garang, susah nak tengok senyuman nya...kalau tak silap dia ajar BM masa I form 4..kecut perut sokmo masa dia ajar tuh!

I pun memang tak minat Science...tapi nak buat macam mana?..forced to Science Stream. :-(

Kama At-Tarawis said...

auntieyan - actually i ni switched stream as a last resort, pasal tak boleh buat. kalau tak minat tapi kena force juga dan boleh buat, i dah tentu gagahkan jugak. the real masalah i tak paham langsung, how to face MCE like that? malangnya cik k tak perihatin. mungkin sebab saya budak baru, masuk form four. saya rasa kalau budak yg been there since form one, dia takkan treat mcm tu.

talqin said...

Adddoii syahdunya..

I menunggu comment Pak Malim kucing ray yang alim..

MrsNordin said...

Ahh... so your story in STF is not a happy one, huh? Ish, but that Cik K is so teruk lah! Tak de compassion langsung!

Err... is this Cik K still an andartu until today? (I can bet my bottom dollar, she still is!) :)

CN said...

Hmmm... "cikgus" are mere mortals, they are fallible beings and capable of making mistakes just like everyone else....

bergen said...

Cik Jawariah tu yang pandai main gitar? Bukan dia ke yang kawin dengan Mr Poh Ah Hai - cikgu maths yang mengajar dengan penuh kreativiti.

Queen Of The House said...

Good for you for sticking to your decision and not letting Cik K get her way!

Itulah, what's meant to be will be :D

Kama At-Tarawis said...

talq - sama2 kita tunggu :)

Mrs N - indeed it was the same Cik K

CN - I agree, wholeheartedly. I have nothing but respect and high regard for teachers..tapi insofar as Cik K was concerned, I sedih teramat2. poor judgement on her part, I guess. entah la.. maybe she idn't like my face kot..hehehe'

Bergen - yes, that was the one. Cikgu Jawariah was the best of all cikgus!

Ummi365 said...

wah that was good. you really stood up for it. tapikan hidup memang macam tu penuh dengan cabaran. the cabaran makes what we are today betul tak kak kama?

Pi Bani said...

Oh, itu macam ka you punya story? For myself masa form 4 and 5 nak mintak tukar stream memang confirm tak dapat sebab we only had science stream then. Form 6 baru ada arts stream. But kementerian's offer letter for form 6 was for science stream still. Masa lower 6 tu pun I pergi jumpa principal personally mintak tukar to arts stream. Since dia memang nak ada "budak lama" to stay on sampai upper six, she personally saw to it that my application was approved by the kementerian.

I guess you are right, I had the advantage of being there dari form one - so depa sayang I lebih kot.. hahaha!

drbubbles said...

puan puteri,

you inspired me to write about my univ.days.Haru biru punya days-pasla tak minat engineering.

Pp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pp said...

kama :-)

this to me, is a success story of the first order! A story I wish to share with my children.
How resilience wins.
How single mindedness wins.
How - knowing what you want - wins.

I read every words you wrote, pausing at certain places to let my emotion sink in, in reacting to certain parts.
The part abt cikgu K - errm, she deserved every words from ur grandpa!!
the part abt CikPa dan the English teacher - they were the type who made teaching such a noble profession.
and the center role was you!! You made it against all odds.

Ahhh....I'm touched yet again.

bangkai said...

It would seem that ALL English teachers are angels. This is the impression I get, ma'am. My English teachers, Mrs Chu and Mrs Dairiam were exactly that - angels.

kay_leeda said...

Kak Puteri,

That was some really guts you had there standing before cik K. I salute you.

Most of us had to go with the flow, Science pun Science lah. In the eyes of everyone, Arts is no good. You'll just end up painting and drifting your life away. Science is good coz you can build the nation, treat the sick and disabled. Whomever lah yg implanted such a streotype midset?

To me tak de yg kurangnya if one is to do Science or Arts. What is most important, ilmu yang dituntut is able to benefit both dari aspek ilmiah and insaniah.

I know how it feels too. I switched from Science to Arts and then Science again. That's why kepala tak betol till now..., lepas MCE where to pulak?? Ohh..kena tunggu eh.. :)

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Queen, Ummi - i believe in facing challenges head-on because we are accountable for our own life.

Pi - actually I was unlucky to have had to deal with the likes of Cik K, itu aja. usually teachers ni very sensitive to the needs of their students, tapi entah kenapa Cik K ni from a different mould pulak.

Bubbs - tulih, tulih..i teringin nak tau apa alkisahnya.. :)

PP - despite all the setbacks, the presence of wonderful, caring teachers like Cikgu Pa and Cik Jawariah made school worth every second. Teaching is truly a noble profession.

Mat B - teachers of English were angels in our eyes because we love the language and they knew and appreciated it, so they gave us all they had, to ensure we excelled in it... :)

Kay - you are absolutely right. In reality, science and arts sama pentingnya...

Hi&Lo said...


The effect of your story on Pp is the same with me. I, too, pause.

You are gentle but tough.

When we were growing up, we were very vulnerable. Teachers who are uplifting and reaffirming, and teachers who are out to tear us apart.

Yes, we are all accountable for our own lives. We have the right to pursue our dreams and interests.

Anonymous said...

Kak, Mula-mula sampai STF I ingat mesti bebudak semua pandai-pandai sesangat esp. those yang dari sek. bandar. So I pun study lah lebih sikit. Maklumlah I dari sek. kg. tempat jin bertendang. Masa tu I pun baru nak masuk 13 thn, Form 1. Bila result first term keluar, I did not do too bad. In fact I did better than most walaupun tak the best. Adalah hamba Allah ni dari sek bandar i.e. SIGS. Dia tak percaya I boleh score macam tu so dia ambil my exam papers and check satu persatu. Masa tu I sedar yang tak kiralah dari mana you dtg, hati budi sendiri-sendiri. Kalau rajin, sure boleh score walaupun selama ni tak dapat makanan berzat macam anak-anak org bandar tu. Makanan di STF pun teruk masa tu. I remember sekali lauk singgang yang they all masak dengan tahi-tahi ikan sekali (terlebih zatlah ni). Lauk kat kg lagi best. Tak da mana nya bandar tu semua elok. Apa-apa pun, I bersyukur Allah beri peluang I belajar di STF. Cerah masa depan. I dapat sambung ke luar negara, dapat peluang kerja luar negara dan tak kekok bercampur dengan orang-orang dari seluruh pelusuk dunia. Peristiwa ini juga mengajar I bahawa manusia kalau berusaha, Allah akan tolong & "Bersyukur dengan apa yang ada" means I have to maximize and optimize every rahmat yang Allah beri. Walaupun kg I tak masuk map, I have been to most countries in the world; untuk kerjalah. Conclusion : kita usaha tentukan nasib kita sendiri lepas tu doa dan tawakal. Allah knows best. Lemon boleh jadi lemonade kan?

Anonymous said...

Komen Pak Malim, kucing ray yang alim.

Rasa-rasanya macam dah komen dah tadi, kata Pak Malim sambil minum todi. Agaknya saya lupa nak tekan butang 'publish' kot, kata Pak Malim sambil memakai kot. Anyway, kata Pak Malim sambil mengunyah biskut Amway, saya rasa Kama adalah seorang pelajar yg cerdik, kata Pak Malim yg gedik. Saya menyesal tak pegi sekolah, kata Pak Malim yg masih duduk berkelah.

Tumpang lalu, kata Pak Malim yg berbulu. Talqin, ye lah, saya dah kata, saya tak pi sekolah. Jadi apa lagi nak dibuat selain pi berkelah dan membeli belah. Err, nak pinjam kredit kad, boleh? kata Pak Malim sambil memegang koleh.

talqin said...

LOL at last dia mai jugak..

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Hi & Lo - tulah survival instinct namanya..:)

anon 4.45 - sebenarnya boarding school life bagus. it teaches us to be independent. my life in stf, walaupun sekejap, was a happy one otherwise. bab chemistry aja yg tak happy.

ray, ray.. makan biskut amway sambil pegang koleh..da la tu.. tak pisekolah.. apala nak jadi u ni..:)

talqin - dia mai jugak kan? tak sia2 u tunggu..