It was like yesterday I blindly put myself on the bus to KL. Somewhere in the end of 1988, I flew back from the US after my graduation. The job hunting started immediately and I was aiming for a place at a university. A few days later a called came in from Prof Abu Talib in UPM and asked if I were interested to teach. I said yes but the letter never came . The appointment never materialized as I have never been to UPM and did not know how to pursue that verbal work offer… so naïve and stupid! After a while I was fed up of waiting and decided to go to KL to find a job…just like other unemployed graduates from Kelantan would do. I have little money left from my scholarship and that would do for a while I guessed. In KL, I stayed with friends in Kg Baru and started looking for a teaching job. The first one was a tutor job in Puduraya. After a few months, there was an opening at Kolej Sedaya (now UCSI) in PJ and I worked there for about one year. Teaching the first batch of a twinning program between Sedaya and a Canadian university. After the students left for Canada, I quit and joined UiTM.
In July 1990, the offer letter came after a few interviews in Shah Alam, and I was placed in a remote UiTM’s branch campus in Dungun Terengganu. Today my service to UiTM is amounted to 26 years 3 months and 12 days. A mighty long time I would say. The memory lane is long and winding. And during all those years the thing I miss the most is the faces of my students beside my very supportive colleague . The students came in during their early adulthood around 19-20 years old. The naïve faces that greeted me every morning with sleepy eyes and messy hair. After a while the boys started to wear cologne that will make you dizzy. And then before you knew it they graduated and pissed off. Usually they will be gone forever and you will never know what happen to them ever since. I guess life has stolen them from me. The thing is thatas I was teaching them, I grew up with them as well. My students has been part of my life ,shaped my thoughts and sharpened my mind. Their noises alerted my conscience that made me angry or happy…..teaching me how to behave and respond to the circumstances accordingly. After they were gone , the new ones came in with new attitude and new set of hair. It goes on and on as a cycle of life that is dynamic and changing. I had one student, long time ago, that came in late most of the time, sat as far back as possible and never seemed to grip what was going on. One day he knocked on my door and gave me a box of cake. He looked beyond my face and quietly said thank you, Encik, I will graduate this semester….he was a very shy boy. He turned around and disappeared into the crowd in the hallway. I was speechless because I had never expected that completely but at the same feeling as if you have successfully helped someone out of his difficulty. A warm feeling that has kept me going for 26 years and more in the future. Basically, students are the same year in year out. Similar in their behavior and anticipation of university’s life. They did not ask questions and failure in the test or exams is something that don’t wake them in the middle of the night. Most of the time they are alright and fun to talk to. When the door closed and the lecture began it was as if we were in the world of our own….my students and I….just us. And for two hours or so we passed the time together whether on the subject or off depended on the situation. I always tried to make the class interesting…well in my own way of course with my own little jokes. Sometime it worked sometime it didn’t work.
The weirdest thing that I have ever done in the class was to announce a pop quiz. And the quiz was….to draw me! All of me! What was I thinking? Hahaha! Weirdo…..but I did that and posted all the drawings on the notice board for everyone to see….what!? but some friends of mine had done things even more terrible. One would ask the student to stand on the table for some reason….like in school!. Another asked the student to bring nasi lemak everyday so he could eat it before the class started. I guess we all tried to build a special relationship with our students. We see them struggling to grip with the subject so some light moments might help.
Being a lecturer is one of the best things that happened to me. It was my second option in the list of my ambition in childhood. The first choice was to be a Assistant DO(district officer)….hhahaha please don’t ask why I aimed for the second rank of local authority and not the DO itself…..it is a long story of a poor child……Anyway,my career brought me to places that I have never dreamed to be. It challenged my thoughts and my inner strength to strive and seek whatever I wanted to seek. In the first five years of my career, I started to teach and raised a family in Dungun. Jug
gling between a family and career, I worked hard to give the best. Maybe someone can claim to have experience in teaching but no one can claim to know how to raise a family. My colleague in Dungun really gave a big impact on my career development; directly or indirectly. Back then Dungun (in 1990) was a small forgotten town where you could buy a big pail of fish from the beach; scooped right out of the sampan. The beach was naturally beautiful and the locals were mainly fishermen. Life was simple and easy back then. I still remember how I enjoyed the breeze at the beach on Friday afternoons.
In 1995, my PhD proposal was accepted and I flew to London with my wife and three children. The youngest one was just a little baby. I worked through the rain and snow of British weather for four years. It was a gruel
ling experience to produce a thesis and earned a PhD in Computer Science. With prayers and support from my wife and children, I made it through. For me that experience is similar to diving down into the abyss of computer science. You went down until your chest squeezed hard and the light disappeared but you know that is not the bottom of it. Before long you have to shoot up to the surface for air. It was enough to defend my thesis but deep down I wanted to touch the bottom of that sea. It disappointed me and painted a gloomy picture on my career frame. For me I got my PhD but failed to wrap it nicely and brought home a gift. My research spirit was dying there ;and until today I survive with that minimal breathe of research in me.
In 2001 I received my PhD, Alhamdulillah. I was back in Dungun and continued teaching there. My career path hit a flat tune and I was looking for a fresh ground to sow new seeds. Sometime during my trip to the main campus in Shah Alam, I asked the dean if there is an opportunity me for to move there. I was lucky to know that a new program is coming out and they needed someone to manage it. Like a soaring eagle, when he spotted a hopping rabbit he would lock it and dashed down to grab it. I pursued the little light and at the end of the tunnel there is a door with my name on it. I moved to Shah Alam in 2004.
In 2005 onwards, my career life in Shah Alam took twists and turns. I mainly did managerial tasks and kept up with research as much as possible. By now I was a senior member of the faculty responsible to oversee a center of study and the student affairs. I wish I were at the pinnacle of my research but instead I was on the other hill gasping for air on the other end. Life always give you mysterious hint for you to lead. My path was leading somewhere else and I had to make a stop and figure out where to go next. But in Shah Alam, life spins at a screeching speed.
In 2010, I was placed in Ined—UiTM’s Institute of Education Development. Spent time looking after twinning programs with private colleges. Then two years later was called back to head CS center of study. And then in 2012 to head the student affairs as a Deputy Dean. Managerial tasks would keep you busy with meetings and events. You have to smile to a lot of people and shake hands to the VIPs. I mean I do not really know how to do those things; it was really hard for me to keep up. But as any other tasks I pursued before I would do it the best that I know how. I would fall sick every time I finished a long day of meetings. I would go home and rest and tomorrow the same routine will follow. Some people were born to do this but I just can’t do it. Life was getting difficult for that reason so I had to drop everything and look for an option. I found a place in Japan.
In 2015, I took a year off and moved to Japan. It was the best time of my life………