In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
Praise be to God, the Sustainer of all the Worlds,
The Merciful, the Compassionate.
Lord of the Day of Judgement
Thee alone do we worship and Thee
Do we ask for help.
Guide us on the Straight Path.
The path of those on whom Thou has bestowed Thy Grace
Not of those upon whom is Thy Wrath,
Nor those who have gone astray.
Ameen. (O God! do grant us our request) - Al-Fatihah (The Opening)
YOUR parents gave you birth but your teacher gives you life. Imam Abu Hanifa said, "I haven't stretched my legs out towards the house of my teacher, Hamamd whereas there were seven streets separating both our houses. I did this out of respect for my teacher."
Well, to all teachers, happy Teachers Day. To all my ‘official’ teachers from Standard One in 1969 to Form Upper Six in 1981, thank you for your guidance; all of you had contributed immensely to my well being and made me who I am today.
For many of us, we only realize that the best period in our life was during our school years, but alas that good old days are gone – we only have fond or perhaps sad and nostalgic memories about them.
‘Official’ (school) teachers come and go but their lessons and guidance and perhaps ‘remarks’ stick on our minds forever. One such ‘remark’ that I ‘treasure’ to his day is from my Standard Five class teacher who lambasted me with these hurting words – “my foot, you want to get 5A’s?”
During those days, Standard Five pupils would sit for ‘Peperiksaan Penilaian Darjah Lima’ (Standard Five Assessment Examination) which offered five subjects namely Bahasa Malaysia, English, Science, Mathematics and ‘Tawarikh/Ilmu Alam’ (History/Geography). Every pupil; especially from the ‘A’ class would try his/her best to score 5A’s in their first public examination; I too had that ambition.
I was not playful in class but had a big problem because I could not afford to buy special guidance books tailored for pupils sitting for the coming examination. My father was a school gardener; I knew his income was barely enough to feed the 10 of us in the family.
I was grateful he sent me to an English medium school but during school days I had to swallow some letdowns such as not having textbooks, failing to settle school fees, and during that important year five could not effort to buy guidance books.
To overcome the problem, I borrowed the said guidance books from a friend who lived about half a kilometer away from my house and copied every word in them into empty exercise books.
For example if on an extra class held on Saturday, the teacher taught Mathematics and Science, I would copy several topics in my exercise books in advance and take them to class. Don’t talk about photocopying chapters of the book because that technology was still unavailable in our town; perhaps if there were any, we could not just afford it.
One Saturday, my prediction on the topics that were to be taught did not materialize; the one I copied did not match the lesson taught by the teacher. When our teacher asked us to do some exercises from the guidance book, I was at loss.
I tried to refer to my friend’s book, who was seated next to me; the teacher who saw the incident, went straight up to me and blasted those hurting words – “my foot, you want to get 5A’s?’
Well, during that time as a little boy of eleven years old, I didn’t grasp exactly the meaning of the phrase the teacher hurled at me; I looked down at my feet only to realize that I was wearing a pair of worn out shoes, some parts of them torn.
I felt very small indeed, such great and famous school that I attended seemed not fit for me; I was in the thinking that it was only for the well-to-do sons of rich and famous. I knew some of my classmates’ fathers were well known personalities such as bankers, doctors and lawyers. I sensed (or could it be my own feeling) some of the teachers gave more attention to pupils of well-to-do parents. They seemed at ease, talking and laughing with such pupils in good English; I only watched them in envy.
I too wanted to be in their shoes, but wait; my English was not that good; my looks ooh, with those worn out shoes, untidy school uniform, uncombed and hard hair; I was sure my image didn’t please any teacher. So what was the solution? I kept my distance from the teachers but listen attentively to them in class.
That word – “My foot, you want to get 5A’s?" – really hurt me but in some sense it gave me motivation and determination to prove that the teacher was wrong. I doubled my effort; worked and prayed hard, hoping to get 5A’s in the coming examination.
During those days, scoring 5A’s in the ‘Penilaian’ (Assessment Test) was a great achievement especially to Malay boys because it was from the result of this examination they would be chosen to further studies in great residential schools such as the Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK), Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman Ipoh (STAR) and Sekolah Datuk Abdul Razak Seremban (SDAR).
During the examination, I did my best; the only thing I remembered to this day was that on the final day of the two days exam, I walked five kilometers from school back home because it ended in the morning; the school bus I normally took only came in the late afternoon.
For two months after the examination I totally forgot about it until the second last day for school for that year when the results of the ‘Penilaian’ were announced. I was at a loss when told that my name was among 13 pupils who scored 5A’s in the examination. On the last day of school, there was a special gathering; the 13 pupils were called on to the stage to receive prizes from our headmaster.
I received a book entitled ‘Trixie Belden in Arizona’, and upon reading it I thought the contents of the book was only fit for girls but it did not matter; the important thing was I had scored 5A’s in ‘Penilaian’. I had proven the teacher wrong; that was what I had in mind during those green years.
But as I grew up and now about to enter my ‘golden age’ (50 years), I keep on thinking whether that teacher purposely wanted to insult me by saying “My foot, you want to get 5A’s?” or was he just challenging me to study hard and at the same time put my shortcomings aside.
But one thing is for sure, that word (My foot, you want to get 5A’s?) helped me to where I am today; after Standard Six I took the offer to a residential school and throughout my secondary school years I was a moderate achiever; perhaps my testimony wasn’t impressing but somehow I managed to go to university, landed a good job and nowadays try to lead a meaningful life.
In conclusion, to all teachers be careful with your words, your pupils might 'treasure' your remarks, perhaps throughout their lives, and to students respect and honor your teachers as shown by the great Imam Hanifa!
So thank you so much to teachers especially to those who have had a part in shaping me in life, ‘Selamat Hari Guru’ may Allah SWT bless all of you.