Saturday, March 6, 2010

To Sir With Love

Cikgu Din, still slim and trim after all these years, with his erstwhile pupil, who has grown fourfolds from size S to XL in just as many decades.


The reunion also brought together four 'old gals' of Sekolah Tun Fatimah (STF), Johore Baru. From left: Fatimah, Zahana (my sister), Rohani and yours truly. A pleasant surprise that really was.


Standard 6, Class of '66. The guy in off-white shirt and brown pants sitting next to me is Zubir Embong (now Datuk Zubir and a former MP), a school rascal if ever there was one, whose gocoh (fist fights) sessions were legendary. In the back row are some of our former teachers; one of them Zubir's father, Cikgu Embong, who would seek Cikgu Din's intervention to bring his exasperating son to book.

Cikgu Din

When I was seven in 1961 he must have been in his mid-20s. A looker he really was; small-framed with sawo matang (darkish) skin and thick, wavy hair done in the style of Elvis Presley (with a hint of 'curry puff' for that killer effect), and a broody look reminiscent of Marlon Brando.

All the bachelor teachers, himself included, were housed in a rumah berek (barrack-like housing) painted yellow just down the slope from our wooden house on stilts in Kampung Baru, Bukit Besi.

Because of our close proximity to the teachers' housing, I inevitably became his little helper; carrying his teaching paraphernalia and students' exercise books that he took home daily for marking. I enjoyed being useful, and he graciously allowed me to.

His was the quiet voice of authority in my life then, apart from Grandma's ceaseless prattle and Grandpa's occasional rejoinder. At home Pah and Tok Ayah ruled, but in school it was him I looked up to because in my young eyes, he was king of all he surveyed.

It's a marvel how the memories of him, and him alone amongst all those who had taught me in Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Besi from 1961 to 1966, stood out in my mind over the years.

I carried him with me throughout the changing seasons of my life, never forgetting how deeply I felt for this teacher who held my hand when I first step foot into school, and again in the last year before I moved on, out of the school and his life, and out of Bukit Besi itself.

I had often wondered if I would ever see him again. We lost touch when I left Bukit Besi to continue my schooling in Dungun 33 kilometres away, and eventually to Sekolah Tun Fatimah in JB.

By the time I completed Form Five and moved on to Kuala Terengganu to begin Sixth Form, memories of him were deeply entrenched in the far recesses of my cluttered mind, to be aired every now and then with a wistful "Whatever happened to Cikgu Din...?" And nobody seemed to know the answer.

By the grace of God, it was in the holy city of Makkah Al-Mukarramah while on the Hajj pilgrimage in 2008 that the link long severed was finally resumed.

In the throng of millions, who would I meet but a couple from Trengganu who turned out to be neighbours of Cikgu Din! They said they knew him well, that he was in his 70s and a bit frail physically but still on the ball otherwise.

I made a promise to myself that I would find time to visit him upon my return. Before I knew it, a year had passed and I was up to my ears with work. Then our secondary school in Dungun held a reunion and off I went, but the trip was too fleeting to go a-hunting for Cikgu Din's abode.

A week ago today, in a place where his life and mine first became entwined, Cikgu Shamsuddin Yusof and I met again after 44 years. What an emotional moment it was when I took his hands and kissed them, eyes brimming with tears. Words were redundant at moments like this....

PS: Some 100 former students, and about 10 teachers, turned up. The reunion was for Standard Six classes from throughout the 1960s to year 1970.

29 comments:

Kak Teh said...

Puteri (Tadi mai dah. Posting ni hilang sat- masih dok edit kut) anyway, so nice to be able to catch up with old teachers. We have a website and former teachers are members and have become friends. During our reunions, one lady teacher looked younger than the former students!
I had tears too reading the bit you kissed your teacher's hands. So much that we owe them, kan?

Kama said...

dah ok dah kak teh.. abih edit dah hehehe

Kak Teh said...

ooooh, lupa nak tambah. Tudung tu macam nak kenai!

Naz said...

Kak Puteri,
I can only imagine how you felt. You make me feel like tracking down my teachers too.

Kak Teh commented on the tudung, I nampak kasut you.....verrry nice!

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

puteri,

so amazing.

i'm so ashamed. i don't think i remember as many of my standard 6 classmates as you do yours. it is like a life time ago.

i remember my teachers, though. i know one thing, they were very good teachers. i didn;t know that then becos as youngsters we didnt evaluate or assess but remember things they did that had left imprints in our own lives.

i remember how they taught us all those subjects.

altho i don't remember many of my classmates from my early primary years, i am sure my memory can be easily jogged with the mention of their names or a view of their photos.

what i do have are very fond and enduring memories of my early school years!

3yearshousewife said...

Kak,
We'll always have a soft spot for our teachers what more with a teacher like Cikgu Din.
Terharu dengan entri ini.

ray said...

Komen Pak Malim, kucing ray yg alim.

Seronok, kan, dapat berjumpa guru dan kawan-kawan lama, kata Pak Malim sambil memegang ayam serama. Menatap gambar-gambar ini, saya menyesal tak pi sekolah, kata Pak Malim sambil duduk berkelah.

mamasita said...

Puteri, I pulak baru nak tanya..is that your favourite blouse? hehe

You memang always write beautifully plus penuh feelings!

mekyam said...

thanks, hjh puteri! bless you for this beautiful entry. i teared a bit too reading it. i think most of us have our cikgu dins who leave deep impressions that we carry forever in our life.

p.s. i'm making a note to self to seek out my own CGD. hope it's not too late...

Pak Zawi said...

Kama,
Such people leave a lasting impression on us. We owe them that much in life.

Wan Sharif said...

Salam Kama,
What a coincidence!!!
Cik Gu Din is my wife's cousin. He stay dekat enjin api (trengganu speaks) in front of Sekolah Sultan Sulaiman..Dungun
In the photograph.. 2 seats to your right is my school and varsity mate..A Rasid A Rahman

Al-Manar said...

Hjh,
You have mentioned and written about Dungun on so many occasions. I want to comment but it will be too long because there is such a lot to say. Before long, I think, I will have an entry of my own on this place because it, too, has a special place in one corner of memory.Thank you for giving me an idea. It is so pleasant to read what you have written.
Pakcik

Kama said...

KakTeh - sweet memories, KT. we went shopping together in Ampang Park for that tudung(cant remember how many you bought but I bolot 4!)...

Naz - once in a blue moon i jumpa nice shoes, pakaila like there is no tomorrow; as you know, my kaki macam barge; big and flat. susah beli kasut.

Ena - somehow, we tend to hv extra-fond memories of primary school teachers compared to those in our secondary school days. maybe because we were very innocent then (akal tak panjahg lagi nak klentong cekgu!).. hehehe

3YH - indeed, and there will always be cikgus yang more special than others for some reasons...

Ray - jumpa kawan lama memang seronok, ray, especially when the guys dah botak and buncit and the gals dah gumuk adn beruban..:)

Mamasita - it's my favourite baju alright.. asyik dok capai yg tu from the rest.. i must go to ms read again, cuttingnya sesuai with my tong gas punya shape..hehehe

MekYam - there's hope yet, Mekyam,that you may find your CGD..insyaallah

Pak Zawi - what we owe such teacher tak ternilai, Pak. Teachers like him are gems, they teach for the love of it..

Wan - what a pleasant coincidence on both counts, Wan! Rashid tu brilliant, got sent to STAR after darjah 6. I was very happy to jumpa him again that day.. dia bawak wife and his mom sekali and his mom remembered my grandma well. sayu kejap dengar dia bercakap pasal arwah opah..

Al-Manar - please do it fast, Pakcik and letak gambar banyak2.. I know I'll be a fan..:)

Uncle Lee said...

Hello Kak Fama, love your sense of humour, 'to sir with love'. Good for you.
I guess you enjoyed the movie too.
Noticed your name at Pak Zawi's place and busybody over.
You have fun, stay young and keep a song in your heart, best regards, Lee.

pakmat said...

..salam lady..its a wonder that a primary school such as yours, and in hinterland Bukit Besi, organised and made a success out of it, a reunion among its Standard Six students..I have never come across of other schools doing it..so, a congratulation to you and your ex-school seems in order here..Tahniah..
..I never remembered much my Standard Six and below days..perhaps because I'd been to so many schools that the memory interlaid and mixed into a potpourri of memories that it is difficult to separate one from the other..and I do not remember the teachers either, much less someone on the stature of your CG Din..I envy you..you walked back in time and met one of your guiding lights..and your former peers..it must have been a shining moment in your life..how I wished I could, too..cheers..

Wan Sharif said...

Salam Puteri,
Rashid went to SDAR together with your other C66/SKBB.. Haji Yusof Ahmad. These two are among the better students.. Your brother Megat Fauzi knows me as orang bulan (hence orebule@..)

Kama said...

Lee - thatnks for visiting. i love the song better than the movie.. one of my karaoke staple, that song.. hehehe..

Wan - indeed it was SDAR sama with yusof ahmad, and fauzi the year before. I was so looking forward to meeting yusof again tapi he couldnt make it at the last minute. you know fauzi, eh? ni nok kene tanyer dia nih.. he's in putra heights, buat aquaculture. he's on facebook too.. gi la cari..

Kama said...

Pak Mat - kudos to Datuk Zubir for organising as well as sponsoring the reunion. And I didnt even know about it until a week before when e-mails started coming in from the past (pandai depa cari!) asking whether i would be attending. yes, primary school reunions ni jarang sikit orang buat because it goes too far back, especially when we are past half century dah.. hehehe

Patricia said...

I so enjoyed reading this post, Kama. And it brought back lovely memories of my days in school, and the teachers who made such an impression on me, and moulded me into who I am today.

Ms Read, eh? Me, too, lah :( I promise myself that I'll graduate to 'normal' shops, but I'm thinking it'll never happen, so Ms Read it is!!! Hahahah!

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Hi Puteri,

Looking back to my primary school days, 2 ladies teachers comes to mind. Mrs Lim, the no-nonsense disciplinarian has a fetish for rapping my palm & knuckles with a ruler & at times lifts up my shorts & canes my bare buttocks with six of the best. Then there was this warm & gentle, loving Mrs Ali (never Puan or Cik for one reason or another, it's always Mrs in those days) who’s always kind & very encouraging with her words of praises, touch & cuddles for kids, you know the very loving motherly type. Gee both very distinct method of teaching, yet both methods worked very well. Then in secondary school, I’d this crushed on my sastera Melayu teacher, Puan Esah the most beautiful softly spoken lady with the most genuine smile. Arr yes, teachers’ r the most important people in our life that leaves a very lasting impressions in all of us for the rest of our life. Thanks to all the teachers of the world, the most noble of professions!

Cheers,

Tommy

P/S – I heard from an old classmate recently, my old form 3 Form teacher is still asking about me (Where’s that rascal Thomas Yew???), she still had a score to settle with me, it seems…muahaha.

Pp said...

puteri kama...

-berkesan di hati membaca entry ini-
tentunya cikgu Din...bangga melihat murid2 nya sudah jadi orang besar2 sekarang, sedangkan dia masih juga seperti dulu2.

- on a separate note, i ada sms puteri kama in reply to one of your note about ur planned travel. ada terima ka atau tersalah number yang saya hantar tu?

Zuraidah Mohamad said...

Hi Puteri
I had just found your blog. It sure jolted my memory of yesteryears. Briefly my story are I am your schoolmate in DESS. Ialways envy you becos you did go to STF the only one during our time. BTW I am now married to your classmate of 1966 at Bt Besi NIK AHMAD SHUKRI (Stiil remember him)thin fair boy@ Ah Chong(itu dulu)now dark and no hair.
And I am Zuraidah.

Aida said...

Salam Kak Puteri,

Teachers are such gems.... When I was a student I felt that it was their duty to provide their services. As I grow older, and now myself a mum, I realise what thankless work teachers have and I have two toddlers are home and wonder how they manage with a large classroomful.

All I can say is that I pray that all teachers have their prayers answered. Wonderful work in helping me with the skills in need in life. I would love the opportunity to kiss every teacher's hand who has taught me.

Tak terbalas budi cikgu-2 semua.

wanshana said...

Oh, Kak Puteri... You made me cry...

I can just imagine how you must have felt when you salam with Cikgu Din... No matter how old we are, when we are with our teachers we will feel like a child again, and all those memories of worry-free days will come flooding back, and how we looked up to them, and how they have moulded us to be what we are today.

God bless Cikgu Din and all teachers out there :)

TATA said...

Salam Kak Put3,

Tentu seronok balik ke Bukit Besi kan? Tata rasa family kak put3 mesti dah ada masa my grandpa and grandma stay kat situ (tahun 60an dulu le). nak soreh banyak2 pun dok leh sebab tak berapa nak ingat. gambar2 lama pub dah tak ada bila asyik pindah je. Doh lama dok g bukit besi ni tapi still remember kat kg besol.

Sam ada sekali ke masa reunion tu sebab dia bgtau tata dia nak balik tranun pada masa yang sama.

Anonymous said...

Hi, ingat dok cikgu hok mung kata mmusang sokmo dlm comment Awang Goneng? She spoiled your day and you wanted to know whether dia doh berlaki ke dok? Have you got the answer?

Hahaha

Kama said...

Pat - I know for a fact that I shalll never graduate to any 'normal' shop, so Ms Read it is..

Tommy - you muat be one hell of a rascal in school to merit that kind of everlasting memory by your teacher.. hehehe

Pp - I do hope he is proud of me. saya pun dah jadi orang besar jugak.. besar badan!

Zuradah - Salam & tq kerana menziarah blog saya, Zu. email or text me yr tel plse; buleh kita 'juppa minung2 kopi..:)

Aida - memang budi guru tak terbalas oleh kita. jasa mereka terlalu besar..

Wanshana - you are right there. walau setua manapun, bila bersalam dan cium tangan. rasa kecik aja.. guru macam ni pada saya rank dia below mak bapak sikit aja..

Tata - i met sam there dan jugak basir, his brother and my darjah 6 classmate. sam tu 2 yrs younger than me; dia sedarjah dengan my sister. Apa aktiviti Pesat tahun ni? senyap jer? If you need my help, kabor la..

Anon - ni payoh sikit nok kata ni, sakgi buat dosa kering pulok.... hehehe

Naz said...

Princess! You've been tagged in my blog. Be a sport OK ;)

Kama said...

Naz, as much as I want to, I don't have a single album in my blog. haven't got around to sorting out all my pixs yet. Even in FB pun takder. what I hv in there is a random collection sent by others.. [ok, now Ilet you into a secret. I tak reti la nak buat album. gotta wait for Nawwar to be free, suruh dia ajar.... ]