(Blog update: After a few ‘heavy’ topics, I think it is best that I touch on the lighter side of life (well, not that light I guess!). Below is just another monologue from me, reminiscing my late Father. Kinda ‘chicken soup for the soul’ story for our family. P.S.: January’s This Month’s Feature will be out on the 30th insyaAllah! The title: ‘Kenapa budak Cina Malaysia power matematik?’. Check it out!)
As many of you have noticed in my recent entries, my family and I had the opportunity to live abroad in a humble town called Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland. We stayed there for 3 and a half years, accompanying our beloved Father throughout his studies there. Similar to all the Malaysians here, we were sent to a nearby school called Hailesland Primary School during our stay.
The teachers there were very cooperative. Upon knowing that we were Muslims, the teachers took some precautions as to our needs and things that are prohibited for us, like letting us use a small playroom for us to pray Zuhr during the lunch break, and excusing us from attending the Sex Education class, since our Malaysian parents decided that it was a bit too early for us to learn such things. (Got a whole hour playing with play doughs and legos every week. Yahoo!)
For my family in particular, as a show of gratitude, we invited them to our house during our Eid open house party and let them try some of the delicious cookings my mother made. Us kids would then be very happy as to explain to our teachers about the dishes and about our culture.
That was around 14 years ago. Oh how time flies! Last month, my family had the opportunity to revisit Edinburgh again during their tour in the United Kingdom. (All of the family went, except for me and my brother, who had work). From what they told us after their return, the school (and the city itself) have changed a lot! Even the name of the school changed to Canal View Primary School after merging with a nearby school. The headmaster and the good ol’ janitor we knew before have passed away, but they were happy to know that most of the teachers whom thought us 14 years ago are still teaching there!
Sadly it was very unfortunate that during their visit, most of the teachers have left the school already, since there was a new policy of a half day school on Friday. But they didn’t forget to write a short letter to them to tell them how the whole family is doing and a thank you note for the teachers who knew us.
Just as they were about to leave the school gate, a female voice was heard shouting from the back:
“Mrs. Shah! Mrs. Shah!”
It was Mrs. Sinclair, the teacher who taught my youngest sister in kindergarten. What coincidence! I guess she was surprised to see her once cute pupil sometime ago grown up to be a teenage girl! They talked, and she was very sorry to hear that our Father have passed away. After 14 years (and probably many other foreign and Malaysian families living there after us), we were surprised to know that she still remembers!
Soon after their visit, I received an email from another teacher of ours, Mrs. Duffy. She was very sorry she hadn’t had the chance to meet up with the family. But what she wrote in the email really touched all our hearts. This email answered our question as to why they still remembered us:
‘I felt extremely proud of you all when I read how you have all progressed and what you have achieved in life. Mum must be very proud of you also – as would Dad have been – I was so sorry to hear of your loss. Mrs Mackay, Mrs Bennett and I were discussing the times your were with us and we all remember the fantastic party your family invited us to at Eidd in your home. It was wonderful and the story has been told to many teachers who came to join the school later. Sadly it has never been repeated by any other family – so you were truly unique…You and your family have been excellent ambassadors for your country…’
We reminisce the times when our late Father would invite not just Malaysian students and friends, but also his supervisors, his non-Muslim friends and our teachers for our open houses. How that kind of exposure made us to be who we are today.
Looking back, we knew we didn’t deserve the ‘truly unique’ and the ‘excellent ambassador’ title.
Our late Father did. A great ambassador of Malaysia, and also Islam.
O Father, may Allah bestow upon you His Mercy in your resting place and in the hereafter, and may we meet again as a family in Paradise. Amiin.
Missing you dearly,