Friday, September 30, 2011

'Twas a good day

PMR is 4 days away and since it was the last time I would enter 3N, I gave them some last-minute pointers and wished them all the best.

The pep talk somehow got a bit sentimental and as I was leaving the class, Dasshany said loudly, "I feel like crying". The unexpected outburst made the whole class laugh and I was spared from the embarrassment of shedding a few tears myself.


Then I entered 3Q. Again, I hammered home the points that I want them to remember when writing their essays. When I wanted to leave, the girls swarmed me to kiss my hand.

Nadiah asked me earnestly, " Cikgu doakan kami satu kelas tau"

I nodded my acquiescence.

Nadiah looking uncertain, double-checked, "Semuaorang tau"


"Semuaorang dapat 9A", Nadiah reiterated, wanting to make sure I got my supplication right.

To please her, I said loudly, " Saya doakan kesemua 27 orang kelas awak dapat 9A"

The other girls' faces lit up but Nadiah still wasn't satisfied. She corrected me, "kesemua 27 orang kelas 3 Qudus..."

I repeated my supplication to include the word 3 Qudus and at last she was happy. I felt like a groom pressured by the crowd to get the wording of the solemnization oath right (!).


Later, as I was doing some work in the staff room, Munir, Muzzammil and Aiman from 3S came to see me. These 3 boys were always trying my patience in class.

They sheepishly said, "Cikgu, kami datang nak minta maaf"


"Sebab kitaorang banyak buat salah dengan cikgu"

I tried to repress the smirk that was forming on my face. I feigned ignorance to prolong the drama.

"Awak buat salah apa?"

They then looked guiltily at one another, signalling for the others to start.

At length, Munir started the ball rolling by saying, "Saya selalu makan gula2 dalam kelas cikgu"

I looked unimpressed. "Makan gula2 je? Lagi?"

Muzzammil added on, "Kitaorang selalu lari2 dalam kelas cikgu"

I nodded in agreement (now, we're talking!). "Anymore?"

"Kitaorang selalu tak buat kerja cikgu"
(and this one's my favourite:) "Kitaorang tak concentrate masa cikgu mengajar"

That last confession made me laugh out loud. They looked surprised and were relieved by my laughter. This proved that they do have a conscience after all! It may be partially obscured at times but still intact nonetheless :)


I had 3K for my last period. I came to class early but nobody was there. I proceeded to write the sample essay on the whiteboard first.

But even after the whole essay was finished, nobody entered the class. I ended up staying for more than 40 minutes until the final bell rang.

A few minutes later, the students came in to take their bags. Their previous lesson ran over time and nobody thought of notifying me.

They looked guiltily at the whiteboard and I overheard someone said, "Kesian Teacher"

Ram gestured to the board as if to say 'do we need to copy it?'

I shook my head and let them off. Then every single one of them came forward and kissed my hand before leaving the class.

*lump in throat* (this is 3K after all)


It is days like this which make teaching such a rewarding and meaningful job...

Consider yourselves warned

The door was broken and lay injured on the floor. On it, the culprit wrote an ominous warning/confession:

Awas bahaya
Zaman sekarang budak2 jahat

(Caution, danger; Today's kids are evil)

To would be teachers, consider yourselves warned ;)

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Close Call

My fate is etched out by Allah Almighty, if and who I will marry, what I eat, the work I find, my health, the day I will die are as He alone wants them to be. To think otherwise was to slip down, the feel the world narrowing, dreary and tight.
-The Translator (written by Leila Aboulela)-

I finally got the chance to visit F over the weekend. She was involved in a serious car accident that left her with 40 stitches. I learnt about it from facebook but the severity of the situation only hit home when I saw her just now.

It was a miracle she survived. In fact, she was literally thinking "That's it. I'm going to die" as the vehicle she was in plunged into a ravine and she was thrown out. The 4-wheel drive landed on top of her but luckily, it didn't squash her. When people arrived at the scene, she was found lying right in-between the tyres.

F said the whole ordeal was a life-changing experience. She was grateful to be alive. She cried every time people came to visit her as she had thought she would never get to see them again.

The accident also served as a wake-up call. She realised that she had had her priorities mixed up. She was too preoccupied with work that she had neglected some of the more important things in life.

F and I are both planners. We are overly reliant on our organisers and our To-Do lists but talking about the accident made us both realise that nothing is within our control.

"They plotted and planned, but We too planned, even while they perceived it not." (An-Naml, Verse 50)

Coming back to the extract at the beginning of the entry: "My fate is etched out by Allah Almighty", there are 2 more instances in the novel which deal with the same issue.

Sammar, the novel's protagonist, had found it strange that Rae's daughter had sent him a card which reads 'Get Well Soon, Dad'.

" was an order, and she wondered if the child was taught to believe that her father's health was in his hands, under his command"

In contrast, in Arabic, when wishing someone well, one would insert the word 'I pray'.

Another instance is when Sammar said in English 'I'm leaving on Friday' to her colleagues.

To Sammar's ears, the sentence had sounded "incomplete, untruthful without insha' Allah".

I guess this entry is to remind myself and others that Allah has complete authority over us and He is the disposer of all our affairs, lest we should forget Him in the busyness of our lives or worse, erroneously think that we are self-sufficient.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Malcolm X once said that, "People don't realize how a man's whole life can be changed by one book".

I wouldn't go so far as saying this book has changed my life, but it certainly has affected me greatly. Long after I had finished the book, I kept on reviewing the story in my head. Malcolm X's life story was so riveting. He was so riveting.

He truly was an exceptional orator. He had the knack of giving memorable, colourful, witty and controversial comments. And the media just lapped it up.

Once a journalist jokingly requested, "Say something startling for my column"

He duly obliged and didn't disappoint. My copy of the book is now littered with underlined sentences and highlighted passages that contain his memorable quotes.

Aside from his superior speaking skills and charismatic persona, the book made an impact on me because it is so honest and tragic.

Malcolm X told us about his difficult childhood and crime-filled youth. Before he became a Muslim, he used to be a drug addict, peddle dope and women, and commit armed robberies.

Yet, this ex-convict (who was so evil, the other convicts and the prison guards called him 'Satan') managed to turn his life around and dedicated the rest of his life to a cause that he believed in. He fought so tirelessly for his race that according to his biographer Alex Haley, he rarely put in less than an 18-hour workday.

The story of his transformation is truly extraordinary.

I was so engrossed with the book that I found myself telling anybody who would listen interesting excerpts that I had just come across. If someone so much as asked, "What's that book you're holding?", I would automatically launched into a long-winded story-telling session. Haha

But seriously, this is an amazing book. It just toppled --- to become my favourite book of all time.


The book is entitled 'The Autobiography of Malcolm X' written with the assistance of Alex Haley, not to be confused with the recently published 'Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention' written by Manning Marable.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Ramadan 1432 Reflection

I felt so blessed during Ramadan. I particularly loved breaking fast with my family and for some unknown reasons, I generally felt more at peace. You know when you occasional suffer from bouts of sadness and anxiety? Well, those feelings were noticeably absent during Ramadan. It's just one of the many Ramadan blessings that Allah showers on His servants.

Sometimes, I used to dread going to school and assumed the demeanour of someone whose cat had just died. We're 3/4 into the academic year and enthusiasm was running low. But during Ramadan,  I noticed that I smiled more and had more spring in my step :)

The month also nudged us into a reflective and introspective mode. When we had so much food on the table during iftar and our refrigerators were stuffed with leftover food, our thoughts inevitably turned to our less fortunate brothers and sisters in Somalia, Libya and Syria. We coasted through Ramadan while they had to face famine, civil war and violent government crackdowns.

At the end of the day, (to quote my friend Najib) Ramadan was an intensive training session. Now it's time to put the effect of the training into practice.

Oh, before I sign off, I would like to share this email from ProductiveMuslim. They sent daily emails to subscribers urging people to be productive during Ramadan. Here's one of my favourites:

Today, I want you to think of the ONE good deed that you promise yourself to continue doing after Ramadan.
Which one will it be?
Will it be praying tahajjud every night from now on?
Will it be fasting every Monday and Thursday or at least 3 days of the month each month?
Will it be praying in the mosque for every single salah?
Will it be reading one juz’ of Quran each day?
Will it be continually giving charity at least once a week?
What will it be for you?
Remember, “the most beloved of actions to Allah are the most consistent ones even if they are few” [Bukhari]
These good deeds should be a part and parcel of your life well after Ramadan – so pick one and write it down and after Ramadan, check yourself to ensure you consistently perform this good deed.

  X X X

By the end of Ramadan, it felt as if you had undergone a gastric-bypass surgery. The volume of your stomach seems reduced and you have an altered physiological and physical response to food.

At the beginning of Ramadan, you tended to stuff yourself during iftar but as the days passed by, you tended to eat less and less. You realised that, actually, our bodies need very little food to subsist and all those gorging we used to indulge in was due to greed rather than hunger.

Hopefully, whatever benefits we gained after 1 month of fasting will not be offset/undone by 1 month of over-indulging.

Further, I hope that by the end of Ramadan, our nafs (insatiable desires) also went through a similar reduction in volume.