Friday, March 26, 2010

The Class Of 1969

Comments are an integral part of blogging. A blog without comments is like a cake minus the icing. It serves the purpose but it lacks the catalyst to keep you going. I think  all bloggers look forward to see some comments after every posting and I am no exception. It takes an enormous amount of  discipline, patience and willpower to carry on blogging when there are no comments to spur you on.

Yesterday, I had a pleasant surprise when I noticed I had a comment from someone who went to the same school as I did. I had never met her while schooling for she was 11 years my junior but, nevertheless, I felt strangely connected and bonded. The fact that we once shared the same school and the same teachers touched my very soul. Suddenly, images of friends and teachers whom I have not met since the day I left school, some 40 years ago, kept flashing in my mind. The images were so vivid and real that it seemed like only yesterday I bade farewell to Treacher Methodist Girls School (TMGS). How time flies!

Prior to writing this article, I did some homework. I visited TMGS official website and Facebook but I could not find any of my friends from the class of 69 anywhere. Well, it was quite disappointing but my spirits were not dampened by the absence of familiar faces. We were from an era when mobile phones, and computers were non-existent. Our means of communication were restricted to writing letters and talking  over the phone. It was not easy to remain connected for 40 years under such circumstances. But as they say, it's never too late. I am optimistic that my friends from the class of 69 will soon make a grand entrance either on Facebook or Twitter or some TMGS related websites.

The class photograph above was taken in 1967 when we were in Form 3A.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Big Bladder Blunder

Looks like my self-disclpline has crumbled once again. It has been a week since my last posting. Well, I was quite busy these last few days. May be I should not be so tough on myself. After all, there is no deadline to meet, no boss to answer to. 

Two days ago I was at Tesco Alor Setar. Before I started shopping, I felt the need to empty my bladder. So, I made my way to the ladies and was relieved to discover there was no one there. I was making my way to the end most cubicle when I heard heavy footsteps behind me. I did not bother to look knowing that some one had just entered and apparently for the same reason I was there. When I was just about to touch the knob to the cubicle, this huge woman in a green T-shirt and grey shorts made a dash for the same cubicle, almost knocking me down with her huge body, pulling a child of about 6 years along with her!! Both mother and daughter disappeared inside the cubicle. Though I was fuming with rage, I opted not to go to the other cubicles but to wait for the woman to come out. "My bladder can wait, I have to teach this woman a lesson", I told myself.

They were inside for a full 7 minutes. With a bladder that was about to give way, this seemed like eternity. But, I was determined to confront her the moment she stepped out. Finally, I heard the creaking of the door and she appeared before me, without any feelings of guilt or shame. If looks could kill, I think the look that I gave her would have killed her instantaneously. But, she seemed unperturbed by my accusing stare. Her body language seemed to shout "I'm not not in the least bit bothered". SUCH BLATANT RUDENESS! I was shocked and stunned that anyone could appear so unashamed after exhibiting such degrading behaviour. I was extremely furious  but I kept my temper under control.

I would willingly allow her to go in first had she decided to politely ask for it. I am fully aware that a huge woman like her obviously has a huge bladder to match. I just don't understand why she had to resort to such extreme rudeness just to get the same cubicle I had chosen first when there were many other vacant ones. And I thought we, Malaysians, are a civilized lot.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Utter Rubbish

Yesterday my mum and I were watching TV when suddenly my mum commented on the text messages that were running across the bottom of the screen. I was jolted back to reality when she asked me about this new form of communication. My mum, despite her age, is one inquisitive lady. Apparently, she was more fascinated by these short and scanty abbreviated messages than the actual program that was being shown. I was about to begin my explanation when she decided to conclude that these were "subtitles"  in a foreign language!! Well, Ma, you are one observant lady, I have to admit.

I decided not to elaborate on the subject having sensed that my mum was satisfied with her own deduction but it kept my brain active for quite a while. Honestly, I am NOT a fan of these sketchy, unintelligible abbreviations which have made their impact on the communication scene. They are  widely accepted and gaining popularity not only among the younger genaration but also those in my age group. Kudos to all those in my age group who have acquired the skill through sheer patience to learn (or is it "unlearn") this new spelling technique.

Well, I am still a firm believer in the conventional style of writing everything in full, properly and intelligently when sending text messages through the mobile phones or Facebook or Blogs or Twitter or whatever. It takes a bit of time and patience to write everything in full but that way, I will never be misunderstood. Besides, I don't believe in making others suffer by trying to decipher my meaning. Incidentally, my husband who is few years my senior, has adapted well to this new trend. He often tells me that these days people are not willing to spend time reading lengthy messages which can be shortened. I am still not ready to change - not at the expense of destroying the beauty of words spelt properly and correctly.

By the way, my mum made her observation while watching a Malay programme. The "subtitles" were text messages in Bahasa Melayu. I think they are more disastrous than their English counterpart. I notice that these people text the way they talk. Not only do they slash off the spelling, they also slash the original number of  syllables to the word! So, what are we left with - UTTER RUBBISH!!! I am not about to condone such treacherous behaviour.

What puzzles me is the silence and indifference on the part of the relevant authourities to control the invasion of this communicating style. It is quite forgiveable if the messages are for individual consumption but certainly not for public viewing. Where are all those who made so much noise and gave a lot of reasons for calling off PPSMI? These people who felt that PPSMI would kill off a student's interest in Maths and Science and were willing to stage demonstrations to make their cause heard. WHERE ARE THEY NOW? I think, these short abbreviated text are more destructive and detrimental to the national language than PPSMI. Why are there no demonstrations to curb the widespread of this impending threat to the national language? Is it because this is of  no political interest to them?? Please give me  a logical and acceptable answer.

My husband constantly reminds me "If you can't fight them, you join them". Well, I am not about to concede defeat. I am not in the least bit smitten by this literary madness, no matter how fashionable it may appear to some people. Call me old-fashioned, conservative, whatever, I will always do it MY WAY.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chasing A Dream

Sometimes I wonder why my husband is so obsessed in his endeavour to glorify all those who perished in the helicopter tragedy of 1976. Personally, I have nothing against his continuous and tireless efforts to immortalise these heroes, though I must admit to feeling a bit annoyed by this seemingly hopeless quest for recognition. He is willing to go to great lengths to pursue his dream with such enthusiasm and earnestness that bewilders me. I can't help questioning myself over and over again how will all these benefit him. It is a bit strange to me that anyone can be so consumed with an enormous desire to resurrect the sad tragedy for the sole purpose of instilling patriotism amongst fellow Malaysians!! Bias aside, I feel I should credit him for this noble trait though I find it difficult to comprehend.

I don't think my husband has any ulterior motives. Prior to this 1976 obsession, he was engrossed in getting the government to give monetary incentives to the gallantry award recipients of PTU, JPP and KPK. Up to this day, I believe, the fight is still on-going but I notice a marked decrease in interest. He has lost the zest and fervour that were conspicously characteristic of him when he first started out on the project. I think he has finally come to terms with the government's policy of giving priority to those who bring fame to the nation instead of those who die for the nation!!. Fighting and dying for the nation to protect its sovereignity and integrity is secondary in nature, judging by the illogical reasons given by various quaters to support their claims for not granting the incentives requested by a retired Major. Had it been a full-fledged 4 star general, I think the situation would have ended positively in favour of the general, a long, long time ago.

Now, coming back to the 1976 tragedy, all that my husband is trying to do is just to get the relevant parties to document it, in whatever form deemed appropriate. Unlike the fight for the monetary incentives described above, of which he was a PTU recipient, my husband was not directly involved in the 1976 tragedy. The question of him seeking cheap publicity by trying to highlight the incident can be safely ruled out. His primary objective is to make Malaysians aware of the roles played by the Air Force, particularly, the helicopter crew in the fight against the communists. The roles played by the army are often portrayed in documentary and feature films and therefore need no further publicity. The Air Force is always boasting of its aerial supremacy by displaying all the fighter aircraft in its fleet. The fighters are obviously their pride. So proud are they of these fighters that the others are not given the credit that they deserve!! This is strictly my opinion after making several random observations. Hence, my husband's efforts in trying to get the relevant parties to highlight and document the dangers faced by the helicopter crew in the war against the communists are profoundly justified.

Unfortunately, his aspirations, perseverance, persistence and sincerity were met with luke-warm response from most quarters, even more so from the Air Force, itself. What a pity!! All the painstaking efforts in trying to convince people in authourity to accept his proposal were often dismissed as insignificant, unnecessary and irrelevant! But, he is not one to give up easily. So far, he has received two positive responses. Arkib Negara has promised to document the historical episode in their "Hari Ini Dalam Sejarah" sequel this coming 26 April. Filem Negara has also shown interest to produce a documentary on the tragedy.

Well, dear, I admire your determination and grit in getting the relevant authourities to document the 1976 incident for the benefit of future generations. I forsee a long and tedious struggle ahead of you but do not give up. Do not be intimidated by the uncompromising and selfish attitudes displayed by people who have the authourity and power to execute your noble requests but are reluctant and unwilling to extend a helping hand.

Keep on chasing your dream.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Of Cats And Dogs

Yesterday I saw something which kept me thinking about it the whole day. At about 7.45 a.m. I saw a  brown, medium-sized dog chasing a motor-cyclist. There are not many stray dogs in my area, so the chasing game was a bit peculiar, I thought. Anyway, as I was about to turn away and continue with my chores, I saw the game was now reversed - the motor-cyclist was chasing the dog now. I saw him throwing a big stone at the poor dog. The poor dog dashed off and then when the motor-cyclist was satisfied that the dog had fled, he made a U-turn and and sped off at top speed  but not without throwing an accusing glance at me when he passed by my house. I was still trying to make out what the drama was all about. The "watson" in me was fast investigating mentally. "Who is chasing who" kept on playing in my mind. I was about to dismiss the episode when I saw the same dog sprinting madly in front of my house and following the same trail left by the motor-cyclist. last I was able to solve the mystery. It suddenly dawned on me that the victim was the dog and the culprit was the motor-cyclist. No wonder the motor-cyclist appeared just a wee bit guilty, I thought.

I will now unveil the truth of the whole drama. I am quite confident that I have solved the mystery! The story goes like this..........

Once upon a time a small brown puppy was living happily in this household. He was cute and adorable and provided some entertainment for the whole family. Unfortunately, their love for him was short-lived. It dwindled as rapidly as he was growing. Every small mischief was translated as a crime and punishment was exercised without any feelings of guilt. The poor dog had no choice, this was his home. He had nowhere else to go no matter how cruel and nasty his master was. Early one morning, his master gave him a fairly decent breakfast. His eyes lighted up, not because of the breakfast but because he thought his master had a change of heart. His master was feeling remorseful for treating him so badly, he decided confidently. This was his master's way of showing that he had repented. But,at the same time, he sensed that something was not quite right. Why was his master waiting so impatiently while he was  enjoying the breakfast which was deprived of him for so long. Before he could provide an answer to that, he was snatched up roughly and hastily put inside a box just enough to hold his small body. He was really scared but there was nothing he could do. He was taken for a ride on a motor bike to Darulaman Heights. When they reached a rather secluded part of the residential area, his master lifted him out of the box and dumped him unceremoniously to the ground. He looked up questioningly at his master but the devilish man quickly rode off. The poor dog. put up a chase pleading hopelessly for his master not to abandon him. It was at this time that I appeared on the scene. He managed to catch up with the devil but the devil picked up a big stone and started chasing him ruthlessly. He threw the stone but it missed the dog and landed under my palm tree. The devil then made a U-turn and then disappeared from sight. Minutes later the poor dog retraced the devil's trail and he, too, vanished from my sight.

I hate to think what happen to the poor dog. There are human beings out there who are so cruel and heartless. In the drama that I have just related, the REAL BEAST is actually the dog's master. Is it too much to sacrifice a bit of your time for these unfortunate animals.I have seen many who only want kittens as pets. Once these kittens are fully grown and are no longer cute and cuddly, and starting to mate, they are discarded  as garbage. Aren't they aware that these animals also have feelings - just like them. Correction - some people don't have feelings. I have seen many who claim to be very pious and religious but when a hungry and dirty stray cat approaches them for food, they just shoo off the poor thing, sometimes using their legs.Come on, don't hide your evil deeds behind that religious facade!! DESPICABLE HYPOCRITES!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Hero's Wife

Yesterday I spoke to a friend whom I have not met or spoken to since April 27 1976.The last time I saw her was in the wee hours of that morning. Her husband and mine were helicopter pilots with the RMAF (TUDM) based in Kuantan at that time. Besides that, we had something else in common in that we were both teachers, but teaching in different schools in Kuantan. I presume she was also a science teacher because I remember we attended a Science in-service course together once.

Fate dealt a heavy blow to her at such a young age. Her husband and ten others were shot down by the communist terrorists while on duty flying in the ill-fated helicopter. The crash killed all of them. I came to know about the incident when I got back from school at about 2 p.m. on the 26 April 1976. I still remember the shock and horror that engulfed me at that time. Recalling that dreadful moment still makes me tremble and shudder with fear and disbelief. It drove home the fact that it could have been my husband on board that fateful aircraft. I was also very young and naive at that time. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that the communists were able to bring down such a big helicopter and killing all on board. I always thought they were more of a nuisance than of any actual threat!! I guess that incident made me grow up.

After getting the green light from my husband, I went to her house at about 4 p.m. When I arrived at her house, I found out that she had been notified of the crash but she was still unaware that all had perished. I suppose the Base had to go through certain formalities prior to spelling out the cruel truth to her. I had been forewarned by my husband to keep mum about the deaths so I put up a courageous front when I greeted her.I was quite taken aback by her calm demeanour. She was still able to keep up small talk with the small crowd of friends that had gathered at her house. I really don't know what was playing in her mind at that instant. May be she was clinging on to the hope  that her husband had survived the crash. Honestly, I felt a bit uncomfortable at her ability to suppress her feelings. I was not able to stop the unpleasant speculations from invading my evil mind. I could not help asking myself why she behaved so "indifferently" towards an issue of such immense gravity. To make matters worse, when the Commanding Officer finally conveyed the sad news to her at about 9 p.m. she was still in control of herself. I was not able to comprehend how anyone could remain so "aloof and untouched"  by such terrible news.I could see some tears before she sought refuge in the privacy of her bedroom, only to emerge minutes later looking even calmer than before! Gosh,here was one lady with a heart of stone, I concluded cruelly.

I was in for more surprises the next morning 27 April 1976. Before driving to school, I stopped by at her house only to find her all ready to board the military vehicle to take her to school!! She was finally convinced that she could forget about school for the time being. That was the last time I saw and spoke to her.

Dear Khadijah a.k.a. Mrs. Wan Munshif, if you happen to read this, forgive me for misjudging you. I never thought anyone could stand up to such extreme devastation and misery with such a high degree of calmness, patience and tolerance expected of a true Muslim wife . Had it been  me in that situation at that time, I think I would be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I remember asking some mutual friends about you a few years after the fatal crash. The rumour was that you had remarried and settled down in Perlis. When my husband was doing some research on the crash for his blog, sometime last month, he found out that you had never, ever remarried. This came as a shock to me, so I had to do some research of my own. I summoned all the courage to inquire on your marital status during our telephone conversation.

Dear Khadijah , you are truly an exemplary wife and mum. I realise now that your deep, undivided, undying and everlasting love for your husband has spurred  you on courageously, bringing up two beautiful children single-handedly. The late Wan Munshif is a national hero. So are you, Khadijah, so are you.