Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Gold cried. I got mad.

Writing early in the morning when I actually have some time dedicated to my blog is nice. This week as well as the previous has been quite busy. Preparing exam questions and well gearing them up in how to answer the questions really took much of my time. Although I am in a small school and you might say that there is more focus and attention in the teacher-pupil ratio compared to schools in the urban areas,  it is exactly that much allocated teacher-pupil ratio given to us that gives more worry and wrinkles. 

They really are weak and every day is a new day for them. As such, I try to help as much as I can to do at least something for them. When I am torn between teaching them to become a person and to teach for the test, I try to find a balance. This is the reality. As much as we think we want to make something out of a child, there come many factors that add to the scene. But such is our predicament. And being so, we choose to make the best out of it. And while some quickly subject to it and adapt themselves, others simply rebel and a few choose to ignore such sad divisions.

So yesterday, I got really mad!

And yes, to those of you who have been reading, this is a continuation for the story I wrote once on Gold.

Yes. I got really mad with Gold.

And now, you will ask why.

In my defense, it was only being human.

It was just like any other lesson. I prepared exercises that were similar to the ones that will be tested in the examinations (which is next week). Gold, as I told you is really weak. Gold cannot read well (both in Malay and English. Gold’s English is even worse than Malay). Not only that, Gold doesn’t even understand what Gold reads except for really similar common words like “saya”, “nama” etc. If you ask why is Gold so weak, let me tell you that even in Mandarin lessons, Gold experiences major problems in not being able to read or even identify most characters. Mathematics become even more challenging. In Gold’s age, others are doing multiplication and division involving six to seven numbers, where there is balance and all. But to Gold, simple addition and subtraction involving three to four numbers is already a huge challenge.

Such is Gold.

And why did I get mad?

Well, two incidents lead to that. Mostly it was the second incident. LOL.

So, today I introduced four action verbs (I’m teaching them Malay, so it is Kata Kerja) to them (mind you, there is only two of them in Gold’s class; Gold and another person who is better in most aspects than Gold). In wanting them to understand better what those verbs meant, I got them to show me actions of the verbs. You see, Gold’s other classmate is better and can at least do most of your work and follow your lesson. So, Gold here ALWAYS follows this classmate. From anything what this person says, answers and do, Gold simply does it. and it is a beauty that this classmate doesn’t quite mind it, sometimes even helping me to teach Gold certain things.

But then, I had not wanted Gold to always follow the really helpful classmate. How long can we actually depend on a friend, partner, person or someone? We have to learn ourselves one day and stand on our feet. So in wanting them to act out the verbs I introduced, I had them facing back to back, so as both will not be able to see one another. And Gold here, from what I reflected, got terrified. Gold just got thrown into the cold harsh reality.

So as I verbalized each word, one by one, the classmate managed to do most of it. And there Gold stood. Staring back at me, I encouraged Gold to do. Nothing but just standing there, looking at me and down at somewhere else, Gold just froze to Gold’s own thoughts. And as I further pushed Gold, Gold finally came out. Gold’s eyes filled with tears. As Gold tried to hold onto it while I was trying to get Gold to do it by motivating Gold, this person just stood there. And no I was not mad about this. I mean, I was surprised that Gold did tear. It was my first time after being with them for more than a month now. So I gave it up and got them back to their seats. And slowly Gold said something in Mandarin which I soon got a teacher to translate that simply meant Gold did not want to compete. In other words Gold did not want to compete with Gold’s only other classmate.


Does Gold really know that being totally dependent on Gold’s other classmate, Gold is really weak and did not know so many things pupils in Gold’s age would?

Or has Gold grown to accept reality that Gold will remain such and hence chooses to avoid direct confrontations on matters of testing, abilities and challenges?

Somehow, thinking about it now as I write saddens me. It could be true that Gold knows of what Gold is and not capable of. It could be true that Gold has accepted what Gold is. I really do not know, but it really will be painful to know if my assumptions were true.

And so, I decided to stop the so-called acting game and commenced the lesson. I prepared some exercises related to the test and there came a part of which I have taught them on. And little Gold, as I asked, forgot all about it. Oh dear, this soon ticked me little by little. I had to recall Gold of what I had taken two days to teach. And there Gold could not provide me an answer.

I am not sure if Gold really forgot or got confused in the process of me drilling Gold. I got so furious and felt that whatever I had taught had done nothing. And as angry as I could get, I still restrained myself from scolding or yelling at Gold, because in between the anger, there came a slight consciousness.

Maybe it is Gold who could not really process such information. Being an extremely slow learner, I wrong to be angry at him. And after the class, I felt sad. I felt sad that I got angry. Although I never really showed my angry at Gold, that is if you count on raising my normal tone of questionings, to be harsh.

But you see, I am just human. And so is Gold. And being human puts us in different categories, forms, types and differences. Gold, I noticed, when going down the stairs, takes one step at a time. One feet down, and the other joining the same step before the first leg moving on to the next step. Gold does have considerate motor skills though. Eye hand coordination is a little off seeing the way Gold plays badminton. Gold’s mood changes quickly too, from being just Gold to suddenly quiet and then smiling occasionally or so Gold tries. And before you ask, no Gold is not mad or even down syndrome.

Gold is well, just being Gold.

And for me to be getting mad was something very wrong indeed. Fortunately I realized this much sooner before causing more damage.

In the afternoon however, when I finally got myself to ask Gold of the questions he was not able to answer in the morning, Gold somehow managed to give me the answers.

Now what happened?

Fairy-god Mother came and swirled her wand?

Thankful as I was, I do hope Gold will have more of where that came from.

Still, I am sorry. But I am also thankful that I got mad. 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Teaching against all.

It has been a month already. Living and teaching here has really been a rare special experience for me. For many reasons, some of which I have wrote previously, others come in tales of how you get treated, of how children react to you and of how things really go by here. Getting fed is the Malaysian way of humble yet loving hospitality. We are always flushed with food, either from fishermen who go to the market to sell his catch and stops by to get us some laksa or famous noodles, food we do not savor here normally. Sometimes local people here who happens to go out to town return with bundles of fruits, packets of food and more or less anything that you do not get to see here on a daily basis. Sometimes it is just the extra mile a fellow colleague goes to fry empty flour mixed with water, which turns out to be REALL GOOD. Haha! Such is our Malaysian way. To eat, to be fed and to know that we bond over food, is a tradition, a culture, we Malaysians are proud of that even makes an outsider amazingly envious.

And among other times, it is just not food that adds to my beautiful journey here. Children, pupils whom we teach simply find ways to bond with. They speak knowing that I do not understand a single thing but still know that in some distance, I have gotten their words. I am too flustered that not being able to reply, I somehow respond in ways that these children never seem to get bored of. And no, I do not make up as a clown and go around making puppies out of thin long balloons. We are originally what we are. And that makes every moment, bitter or sweet, become a benchmark to which you will miss when you leave, which has somehow also been my motto. To know that you will be missed when you leave is not an achievement any other person can claim. It takes just being who you truly are, honest and sincere in what you do to make things somehow better. Sometimes, it is not about making someone or something succeed. It is about the impact upon which we leave them on that returns us that feeling of grief and gratitude when we leave. Forget about making differences. Think about making a person smile a day, and that itself will bring you many pauses the moment you decide to leave or when time calls you.

Parents who talk to you and share stories soon become good friends. Unknowns whom you humbly portray yourself upon acknowledge you. Colleagues, whom you never have met before become  a place where you share personal opinions. These are the things not everyone gets. And as thankful I am for having being blessed with such happenings, I also fret upon others. To think that life is always beautiful, somehow gets you thinking that you may only be assuming it or just wanting to believe that it is. What truly lies hidden beneath is what we choose to see or embrace. Somehow, though I am at peace here, I find myself troubled in things I am not accustomed of.

You see, when you choose to become a teacher, you have to answer one very big question. If you do not sense this in the beginning, life itself will bring it upon you, which you will then think about it and wonder, is this really how things are? Is this the real reality or some prettily adorned mirage? A simple yet much to think about question, I myself know not where to begin or how to end it.

Do you teach to what your heart says? Or do you teach to what is expected of you?

Ok now that makes it two questions. LOL.

You know it is real when you enter a class and teach and return home, knowing your pupils learnt nothing. You know it is true when you strive so hard to do something, only to test your patience to the edge, and in the end, nothing much has changed. You know it is the real deal when what is done is difficult to be undone, and that being stuck in the middle disgusts you so much so that you think what really matters.


Them, your students?

The surrounding?

Or, everything together?

I am sad that there are among those pupils who really could care less for what they are responsible for. I am sad that there are among those who really try but just cannot make it. I am sad that when these pupils try so hard to live in this reality but only to be shoveled deeper further in very unjustly circumstances.






Human, people like you and I and those in between.

Such are things that I can boldly shove out, but no, not today. And why you may ask?
Simply because, we live in a world today where little is known of the real deal and much is believed about those that aren’t.

And so, when answering that two big questions, which would be your path? Will you teach to what your heart says or will you succumb to what is expected of you and try to make something out of it?

If you ask me, I believe in humanity, humility, maturity and attitude. If you still do not understand, read through once more, and what is lacking is what I do not believe on, which then puts me on a stage I know I will be missed when I leave.

This is because, at the end of the day, life never really gets to evaluate you. It is you who assess life and try to make a difference, even if it means going to lengths, I shamelessly call, integrity.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

A Virtual Tour

This post is dedicated to a sight-see kind off tour of where i currently am living and teaching. Mind you, photos were taken from the amazing ip 5 cam, WITHOUT filters OR edits. Enjoy!

no, it is not dusk, but a bright noon nearing evening.

a perspective of the boat we travel on. ahead is where we live. 

i wonder how old these boats are. carved out of wood, it really ages well.

this could be a National Geography Magazine cover. haha!

and then, there's me trying so hard to be in the moment.

and of course, when you are too in the moment, you tend to go overboard by posing 'naturally'.

nearby is this breeding ground for fishes where they are fed and grown, caught, sold and eaten. Haha! This floating breeding ground is not connected to any land parts. the dogs live there by feeding of scraps from fishermen who come to tend the fishes. 

a fisherman, getting his catch off the boat to the breeding ground, or the other way round. i dont know. haha!

and what is this?

the jetty of Kuala Sangga, where i am currently teaching.

a local coffee shop, traditional, nude, pure. 

after years, the structure, though crooked and unsteady still stands strong abstaining from strong winds, tides and rain. there's no one living there by the way. 

SJKC Poay Chee, the one block school. staring above, we have the heat of fire and the cool of water! haha! 

our quarters, where we live which also functions as our teacher's lounge.

across the school, is the library. 

That being said, shown and seen, this is my story. 

A Turtle-rescue Mission

Being far away from urban civilization and modernity gives your luxuries of experience, knowledge, value and gratitude. Sometimes we do not really see this or even feel it. We only tend to think that we have it or assume that we will know how it feels like without really getting to be in it. Yes, I really have grown to like this place. And more than that, I think this settlement really gives me more than what I initially expected or even thought of gaining.

Today we were on a turtle rescue mission. Well, it was not really “we” as in me in it. I mean, I was invited to join. And boy, I did not even know about this turtle thing till I saw it. One of the boys here who is very close to all of us, teachers here found a turtle caught in his net while foraging. Intending to keep it as a personal pet, he was discouraged from doing so. And thus, the rescue mission came to being. And how I got involved?

Well, a teacher invited me and a few others if we would like to go to sea – to the wide open acres of water-land. And wanting to experience the reality of life here, I followed suit. And that was how, after hopping onto the boat, I saw this turtle. It was ready to be freed. So we sailed past. Coming to a large open space of nothing but water and faraway green lands on each side of the wide open river, we stopped. The turtle was then freed after being “fed” well wishes.

And as we returned, I wanted to try this. To man-handle the boat. Haha! I mean, I never got to be on one this real and to simply maneuver it would be wonderful. And boy, I got to do it. It was really an amazing experience unlike anything you would get in places apart from as such. Of course, the boat trudged clumsily. Haha! But all in all, it truly was something inspiring. Between you and I, there is a 1 in 100 chance that you get to see this and 1 in a 1000 to feel it for real.

And such is our choices. We strive to become better each day, wanting to do this and that, aspiring to be someone one day. And at such times, we fumble and face jeopardy. We crawl in their dark tunnels and dig out from sunken manholes. Sometimes, we let it eat us. It consumes us and soon depleting us of what we were meant to become. And we find that it was only because of how things turned, but little we realize that choosing not to swim in an open sea or at least die trying is the cause of how the events we come across took place. I could have said no to the invitation. And I would be diminished of a turtle rescue mission that soon became a boat-maneuvering try out. And I would never ever get to know it, until another opportunity turns up. Like how we always comfort ourselves after a loss, that another chance will soon appear, we dismiss such first-time episodes of reality.

Like Shakespeare said, to do or not to do, the choice is definitely ours.

Despite where we are and of what circumstance we are being put in, it is not wise to contemplate on what we lack. Instead, seek the gems hidden in such places. Search for them and reality will soon be an amazing journey for you. Be it in a class of terribly weak children,  a class whose students do not respect you or even a school that does not acknowledge your existence, always know that, things are being put, created and worked for a reason. The only turning point out of this is of how we choose to see it.

Without a doubt, the choice is ours.

I made mine.

What is yours?

And if you have not decided, it is fine. Sit down and think. Think hard of what it really is all about because there will come a moment when you know that the chance is there right at your nose which you dismiss, thinking it would come again when you are more ready, only ending up to never get to see it again. 

a typical evening, shot in its original frame.

when all you need to do to have peace is to just observe nature

the little turtle whom made this post a reality. written on the shell are wishes. 

no it is not the moon, but a direct shoot of the sun.

birds trying out their luck at catch nets of boats. they follow you wherever you puddle through as long as you fish. 

my first attempt. haha!

the leg looks stupid but that is the handle with which you steer the direction of the boat, as in heading to where.

i'm getting comfortable in it. perhaps a change of proffesion? haha!

and when we finally decide to be stupidly happy in a picture. 

Monday, 15 February 2016

Happy Belated Birthday to you, Suresh!

It has been some time since I last logged on for a post. I mean, if you put aside the occasional checks to see any comments and increase of page views, (haha), I really did not do much ever since my last post. I mean I wanted to write, and there were many to write about and then I got lazy and well, time passed. So for today, this post is going to be about my last birthday, exactly 10 days ago.

Birthdays. A yearly event that signifies how much nearer you get to the end, birthdays really can be a joy. And while most people get to enjoy blowing the candles or even simply being wished “Happy Birthday”, there are those who have it 4 years once. Yes, those born in the leap year, whose birth dates fall on February 29. It must be really special for this people, to have their birthdays celebrated once in every four years and somehow sad that for the next three years, they age year by year without officially being birthday-ed. I have a friend in college whom I was able to share the joy of celebrating his really special once-in-four-years celebration. Funny, it was my first and my last till we left college. But, I thank you for the time we had. It really was beautiful. You know who you are, dear friend. Thank you.

Well enough of that, so this year, I decided to go bold, shamelessly confident in seeking satisfaction, craving attention and acknowledgement. I went around Whatsapp-ing friends that it was my birthday and that they are to wish me! Haha! And a friend of mine declared it was his first time seeing anyone announcing his own birthday and demanding for wishes. Hahaha! Too bad for you, I still got the wishes. Forget about presents, wishes that take up a minute or lesser of your time, just to be dedicated to me itself has been a great opportunity. To think that I spent a minute of your lifetime to wish me “Happy Birthday” was satisfying.

And while being happy of the wishes, we sometimes crave for a little bit more. I mean, it is only being human, right? To want something more than what we have – another slice of that cheese cake,  a second helping to that mashed potatoes sprinkled with herbs and thick soup, a sip of that Starbucks coffee we will splurge stupidly on. So, as we ask or at least expect for this little extra, there are two things to be prepared for.

One, you find only disappointment which leads to frustration, anger and hatred. You get nothing, not even a wish or some little special recognition for what you have become or of how much you have traveled or come to. I ask, is it wrong to ask for something more when you know you simply can afford it. So what if you have always been like that? Must that stick and remain till time ends? Has it always been that way? When once you act in total silence, you become mute forever? Have you no thoughts or at least the sub-consciousness of what we refer to as humanity? Or is it that you simply do not take much to this? Sometimes, wishing birthdays become a responsibility and not an honest wish. You go out to buy the cake. You take the time to get a gift. You write a message on a small card and you paste it on the gift. You write good things and wishing all the best, you think you have done your part of being a part in this human cycle. But is that really what birthdays are?

A responsibility as human to celebrate?

A task, in the norm of celebrations?

And two, when life is always equal of both joys and despair, you find great love and care. It does not take a thousand dollar bill to put a smile on your face. Sometimes a bargain bought at the everyday-grocery store becomes so much more valuable than any diamond ring. Even a letter typed in the simplest way can mean so much when all you have to do is to have the person whom you are celebrating in mind.  Honesty, truth, inspiration and admiration become the source of your letter and well wishes, which when you read, you feel it to the core, forgetting all about that hatred and anger, just being thankful that in every dark corners of this world, there is still light. Birthdays become so much more meaningful that way. You feel that in all the difficult paths that you have took and suffered for, it is in the distant, far away from where you have heightened yourself to where you are now.

Birthdays become true and real. And aging by the year seems to even be less frightening, knowing that you will always have that love and care around you.  It is the real deal and no matter how long one takes to wish himself or herself “Happy Birthday”, it always feels good. So good, no Dunkin Donuts can make you feel better.

So, while some birthdays are celebrated four years once, others being forgotten, taken for granted and a mere responsibility, there are still those birthdays whom people thank you for your existence.

Thank you for your wishes.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The story of Gold

Teaching is not a profession or even a job. And no it is not even a verb. Teaching, in fact does not fall into any known word classes. It stands alone by itself. Put away so far apart from any other words or even definition, teaching is in its own class.

Today, as I was teaching this group of pupils, I felt many things and thought of many things. Let’s name this particular pupil Gold. Gold is a weak child. In fact so weak, Gold is quite lacking the normal maturity level of anyone in the same age group. Gold, like gold itself, is so pure and precious. And as Gold tries so hard to think or do what I say, I notice that sometimes little Gold here seeks joy in the little things this person tries to do. I mean, Gold laughs over small things with me and my reaction. And as it went on, I got irritated. I got so annoyed that I just wanted to shout at Gold. But I know it wasn’t right. Gold would have done better if only Gold could. But is Gold doing enough? And as I kept my cool, I tried one last time before the lesson ended. And there Gold just stood there not having moved from point A to point B. It was merely a simple vocabulary difference. But it got Gold tied up so hard I don’t even know if Gold can wriggle the way out. And there Gold was, thanking me at the end of the lesson.

But, what did Gold learn? What did I teach? And what is Gold planning to do about it?

I am partly to be blamed. If only I could have a better command of Gold’s language, things could have been better. Gold’d be able to understand better and trying to do more, Gold would become better. I am sad that I could only do so much and yet Gold fails to see it. But is Gold aware of this? Gold’s attitude, behavior and actions. Does Gold really put thought into wanting to improve? Does Gold even know that Gold is weak? As Gold sails through day after day, in and out, night and day, the thought of Gold going out there to the world being Gold himself is grieving.

And in such a standstill, what is teaching all about?

I am not sure if I would last here for long, but I do hope that Gold grows. I hope, whatever is it that Gold chooses to do, he would be happy. And to know that part of Gold being happy had a glimpse of me in it is what I refer to teaching.

You do not teach. You do not even educate. A teacher does not do that, at least not all.
Teaching is when you place hope, trust, and love, and that one day the emotions and thoughts you invested will bring in more hope, trust and love. Teaching is to know you have the gift of hope, the blessings of trust and the care of love.

With Gold, whom I care so much in trying to improve Gold in ways I can, I dearly hope Gold grows up a better greater person. I mean, you do not have to be bringing back the string of A’s but knowing on how to wedge your way through, is secure enough for me to sleep a peaceful night.

Dear Gold,

I hope when you grow up some day, you will carry a part of what I left you with. The future is uncertain, let alone tomorrow. Still, I want to believe that you will always have that innocence you proudly hold onto. You may not have playmates your age group, mainly because you are turned down at most times. But the good thing is, you are never ashamed to ask someone else. Go on asking. Go on making new connections. Each time a door is shut at you, open a new one. There is more to offer than just one door, which we all usually take.

Dear readers, I hope to update more on the story of Gold, and when I do, I hope you smile reading it. 

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Watch-boy's tale

Yesterday I became an eye-witness. 
Yesterday I saw what I never thought could take place. 
Yesterday I felt so hard and yet so sad for what I experienced. 

We pride so much in what we do through what we learn but end up committing more than what is required. We laugh to their jokes and we add to the already-burning fire. We simply do nothing but go on approving it. Simply because we still think of standards and authority. And we choose to do nothing. In fact, I chose to walk away. I could not see it nor could I share what is at stake. Yet I feel for what is being done and I walked away.

But is that right?

Should I have just approach and try to remedy the solution? Should I take on the issue at hand? Should I just voice out what I feel to set things right? Should I just stop what was happening?

But again, would it be right to do?

And yes, cowardly I walked away. i understand that when there are principles, law and order, one should abide by all means, because that is just how things work. When you are at fault, you are reprimanded and when you need support, you are rightfully given. But then, what if you get caught in between of being at fault and at the same time in need of so much attention? Do you react on one point of view, based on what you see, or do you balance the beam and do what is right? But then, what if what you think you are doing, you think it is right, when it could also be wrong?

I am sad to think of it.

Dear watch-boy,

As I rejoice at your smile over trifles, I hope you see something good in yourself. I sincerely hope that you will be blessed with much more, later in your days. You see, sometimes not everyone needs to go through a complete cycle to grow up. They do not have to obey every single law in this ruled-by-law world, because one day, you will grow up, and I do hope and pray that you will be better. Somewhere where you are more appreciated, recognized and taken care of.

I know you will. I do hope that it will turn out soon.

Sometimes, we just have to walk away and approach from the side or the back.

Good night.