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Sunday, December 4, 2011

My School Days (Part Two)

     (The article below is the second excerpt of "I Still Remember"that appeared on SMK Tengku Mahkota's school magazine.  I regret that Part Two appears first before Part One.  Enjoy reading maa...)

     Part One of 'My School Days' was my first experience attending school in Standard One.  In the second part of the article, I related about the first problem that I encountered as a Standard One fearful school boy at Primary Ismail School Two. Muar in the sixties.
            That was the first day of school.  During that time, there were no nurseries or ‘Tadika’ or ‘Taski’ or Tadika Perpaduan’; therefore, we only started learning alphabets and numbers in Standard One.  One interesting thing was, we learned everything in English except Bahasa Malaysia (at that time it was called ‘National Language’), totally contrast to what my brother and sister did at the Malay school.  We learnt to say “Please teacher may I go out?” and so on.

            At school, everything went well until I started to get a wrong answer for my arithmetic sums.  Disappointed to see a cross made by the teacher on the page, I slashed the wrong answer with my pencil, again and again, making a black patch on it. 

After that, things seemed to go wrong with mathematics.  I found it difficult to understand the lessons taught.  The teacher seemed to go very fast with their lessons but timidity got the better of me; I did not have the courage to ask any questions.  I squirmed every time the Math teacher came.  I hated every homework given by him, felt very relieved whenever he was absent, hoped he would be absent again the next day.  And then, when I saw that he came the next day, I felt so disappointed I could have killed myself.

There was one day when Mr Gurnam Singh, the Headmaster himself came to our class.  He instructed all of us to stand up and recite the multiplication table.  The whole class recited in chorus.  Slowly he moved towards me and stopped in front of me.  Being a small boy, my eye level was only at his huge stomach.  I dared not look up as I was nervous.  My palms started to be clammy, my limbs were numb, cool sweat trickled down my spine.  Why he didn’t he walk off?  Why did he stop in front of me?  And stood right there?  A string of questions raced in my mind.  I had to relieve myself of my sufferings.  I had to see why he stood in front of me for ages.  Slowly I looked up at his face.  Wah! Blood drained away from my face.  My heart beat very fastHe was looking down at me!  Frowning!  He looked serious!  He was looking at my lips, to see whether I was reciting the correct table.  I stammered.  I couldn’t remember whether I was reciting the correct table or not.  My mind was blank.  Then he walked away.  I heaved a sigh of relief.  My God!  What an experience.
Could this be the Mr Gurnam Singh that I was telling the readers?  I'm not sure (he looks so young) as I found this picture on the internet.  Besides, it seems to me that all singhs look alike.  Sorry about that.  To Mr Singh, if you happen to read this article, I have always respected you and still do.

The problem changed from bad to worse.  As I could not pass mathematics in every every test, I began to hate the subject.  I envied my friends who always got good grades in every test and exam.  The marks in their report cards were always written in blue while those in mine were stained with red. 
I remember a friend of mine who faced the same problem.  He was so eager to present to his parents a report card where the marks were written beautifully in blue.  On one test, he happened to be absent for Math.  He thought that he would pass all the test without the subject that he hated.  Lo and behold! Suddenly he failed another subject.  How frustrated he was!  To make himself happy, he rubbed off the red mark and changed it with a blue one.  His father didn't find out the fraud, but his class teacher did.  The rest is history.

     How can I make myself pass my tests? I began to lose hope, did not know what to do.  I left it to destiny to decide.         

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