As I am doing this entry, my daughter Aqeelah is battling with anxiety as she approaches the school’s compound to get her SPM result. She and many like her all across Malaysia will see their fate today; whether they can proceed to a higher level education or not. For us in Malaysia , SPM is everything; it represents the future of our kids. If one fails to get good results in SPM a girl might as well find a man and get pregnant; and for boys would never go out to ask her girl for marriage until he gets a job in a nearby factory. I mean the certificate really dictates the way you will lead your life. So that’s why most of us have become so exam-oriented and certificate-madness-social-structured society. Everything must be certified and approved. We hang all sort of certificates on the wall to prove that we are real and truthful as claimed. Even children in the kindergarten will get certificates for whatever they have finished doing—reading, writing, running etc. I don’t know where this entry is going but I am quite fed up with people trying to do something and get a cert to prove it all. Can’t we just make do with whatever we can produce, the skills that we have with the best of our ability. There is no need for extensive certificates to prove everything. But sadly that is how the things are in the world we are living in; and have been like that for hundred of years since the British opened up the first school in Malaysia. Those who were “successful”—pass the stupid exam—would lead a good life with a good job and big house. My late father, for example, he did not proceed through the British school…(or known as The White Man’s school)..so life was quite difficult for him. But during that time it was more due to the poverty rather than a choice. He moved to town(Pasir Mas from Kg Tendong Sungai), got a job and married Mum.
My grandmother Mak Jah and I, seen here after her return from Mecca. She was a rich lady back then; owned several houses and plots of land. I never knew my grandfather. Grandma lived a long and illustrious life as a rich widow; she died a few years ago at my house hopelessly poor and lonely.
Without proper certificate, what else could he live on other than an odd job like a coolie at a train station. That was the train station in Pasir Mas, Kelantan He would lift anything that came by the train and put them into the godown(gudang) or on a waiting lorry. A job definitely for the poor unsuccessful lads. He would come home with a few ringgit and some food for the twelve of us . Everyday for the rest of his working life. He passed away some years ago. May he rest in peace.
I guess he learnt the lesson well and told us to go to school and study hard. I have nothing for you all, he once said during the meal, so better do well in school if you do not want to end up like me. At that time I did not understand; I felt it’s nothing wrong with what father had been doing. I could eat, grow up and play like everyone else. Maybe a TV or radio would be better as we did not have them to watch my favorites like Giant Robot or Ultraman. Father worked hard as I remember him and we never complained being bored at home or anything like that. We had each other to play , fight and kick-ass with; the twelve of us, yes twelve, and I still have them all today living and working some where in Malaysia. The only thing is that now I wish things could be different. But fate has it its way and I should be grateful for things have turned out to be alright after all.
Fortunately, my father took care of our study quite well. I remember him sitting by me, after a long day at work, making sure I was studying and doing my homework under the “pelita ayan” (that small oil lamp) way into the night. Four of us including myself were fortunate enough to be offered places at boarding schools. That was the point and time when I started to be “adopted” and living in hostels; I was eleven years old. After secondary school , they sent me to the United States and then later to the UK. Until today I still wonder what would happen to me if I were still at the kampung and running around trying to get something good out of me. I would probably end up doing the same odd jobs at the train station.
>>>Alhamdulillah, Aqeelah got 10As in her SPM. Excellent indeed.