On three different occasions over the past three months or so, I met up with my MRSM Kuantan friends over dinner or tea, in what we call mini-gatherings or reunions. The most recent of these was held last Saturday at a friend's restaurant in Shah Alam. Twenty-three of the MCE'79 batch turned up, made up of 7 ladies and 16 guys. Also present was our English teacher Mr Peter Ng and our librarian Puan Faizah.
I had first thought to post a story about the friends I met during those gatherings but upon meeting Mr Peter again last week, I decided it is time I write something about my teachers, in particular, the ones who taught me English at MRSM.
We have a peculiar, if somewhat unique way of addressing our English teachers. In normal convention, when we call someone by their name, the `Mr' would be attached to the surname, and not the firstname. For instance, we would address Tom Jones as Mr Jones (and not Mr Tom). But not at MRSM Kuantan... our English teachers like Peter Ng, Stephen Ambrose, Michael Tan and Kamini Devi are addressed as Mr Peter, Mr Stephen, Mr Michael and Miss Kamini. This way, we feel closer to our teachers because we reduce the air of formality while still maintaining a measure of respect. It may not be technically correct but I agree with it wholeheartedly.
Mr Peter once headed the English Department at MRSM Kuantan. When we re-connected on Facebook, I was quite surprised that he took the time to read this blog of mine. I was doubly pleased when he said that he liked what he read... what can be more encouraging than getting praise from your old English teacher?
The other English teacher who I remember particularly well is Miss Kamini... because of her height. At six-foot plus, she was easily the tallest lady teacher we had in the whole of MRSM Kuantan. It's a pity I do not have a photograph of her because my memories of how she look is starting to fade away. A few friends have uploaded old photos of our time at school and some are pics of us with our teachers, but so far, there isn't one that includes Miss Kamini.
Apart from the academic side of teaching, the teachers at MRSM were also our homeroom advisors. A homeroom is a smaller group of students from different classes... a sort of small family of brothers and sisters with the advisor acting like a parent or big brother / big sister. That is why we feel very close to our teachers... and we know that some of our teachers are very close to us too. This can be clearly seen from the keen participation of our former teachers in many of the reunion events held by the various batches. Photographs of these gatherings are published in the FB profiles of friends and from these I can recall my cikgu-cikgu from yesteryears :- Cikgu Ramli (1st Principal), Cikgu Sharif (2nd Principal), Cikgu Idham (Geografi), Cikgu Fadhil Onn (Geografi), Cikgu Zamri (Chemistry), Ustaz Yusof (Pendidikan Agama), Cikgu Rahim (Physics) and of course, Cikgu Peter. There are certainly many more of my former teachers... some I am told, have already departed. My al-Fatihah and prayers untuk cikgu-cikgu yang telah pergi.
How do we do justice to the valuable knowledge and guidance that our teachers have imparted on us? My answer to this is, by trying to be the best person that we can be. This does not mean that we have to be successful professionals or rich entrepreneurs but simply being an honest and dedicated individual who pass on the noble values we have learned to our children and fellow human beings. The measure of this is when our old teacher whom we have not met for more than 30 years, comes to us and say, `I'm proud of you all!'. That, to me, is saying a lot.
Happy Teacher's Day to all my teachers, wherever you may be. You are the best teachers there are because you teach from your hearts and not merely from the books. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Teacher's Day greetings too are due to my K79 friends who have taken up this noble profession : Suzyanna Mokhtar, Zulika Abdullah, Siti Zaleha Md Said, Fauziah Abdul Ghani, Rohana Mustapha, Dr Adriana Ismail, Dr Khairanum Subari and Prof Shahrin Mohd. My apologies if I may have missed out anybody.
Then : The English Department staff at MRSM Kuantan, late 70s. Mr Peter on leftmost of the group. Pic borrowed from K79 friend Norila Yahya's FB album.
Now : Mr Peter (left) with one of his students, Norhisham Kassim, an airline pilot with MAS.