Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mika, Usman Awang, Orientation Day and a Debt that shall never be paid

Muhammad Mikhail bin Taufiq was born on 31st January 2004 I in Ward C, Pantai Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur. I was nervously waiting in the room when the nurse came in and said, “Can the father come with me?”. I followed her in a semi-conscious state to the babies ward. The as-yet unnamed baby son looked red like a tomato. The nurse gently passed him to me, and I recited the Azan (Call of Prayers) into his ear (I did it wrongly, but never mind that). That same night, I wrote a prose. I do not know why, but angels were mentioned…

8. Pantai Hospital, Ward C
Babies talk in Morse
To angels who tread these corridors

What beautiful talent we sadly unlearn
Weary of life’s maze, twist and turn
Until life itself ebbs to its full and final term
And we lay in bed, old, weak and infirm

Only to find ourselves once again speaking
To angels garbed in light, and with yea, what mighty wings!


His first pre-school was Villa Maria, run by the Good Shepherd Sisters. In end of 2009, he graduated. His major achievement I must say is his high tolerance of embarrassing costumes that he had to wear for the annual concerts. Often, I can see it in his eyes an unfulfilled wish to be 1 million miles away from the little concert hall.

Skip 1 year onwards, and today I and Mika’s mother accompanied him for his orientation day in his primary school, Sekolah Rendah Taman Tun Dr. Ismail (1) for the January 2011 intake. Preliminary placing of Mika put him in Kelas 1 Mutiara (1 Pearl). During registration a teacher came in to round up the kids for an assessment test. Happily, Mika was the first to finish, but he had to wait for the rest to finish - Waiting is not one of his strong points.

Well, neither is it mine really. So I left him and wandered around the school compound. On a stairwell I found this beautiful poem by Malaysia’s Poet Laureate Usman Awang hanging of the wall…

If today
There is a Prime Minister in power
If today
A King ascends a throne
If today
(There is) An Honourable Spiritual Scholar
If today
A lawyer wins a trail
If today
A writer becomes famous
If today
Anyone becomes an adult
Their history was begun
By an ordinary teacher
(Who) with kindness, and patience
Taught (them) to read and write.

I came back to check on Mika, and saw that the pencil box has lost all its attraction and he has started making friends with the boy next to him. But he ignored the lovely girl to his right. My fault - Initially, I told Mika that all boys share a secret vow which simply reads 'Don’t Trust Girls!’. After a brief look at the class register, I found that girls outnumber boys by almost 2 to 1. In the car later, I suggested gently to him that the ‘Don’t Trust Girls’ dogma needs to be reassessed in light of the new discovery. He solemnly nodded his agreement.

After the assessment test was over, the teachers took the children for a tour around the school, you know, the canteen, the toilets, the computer lab, the teachers’ rooms etc. I found it naively sweet that the school authority believes that the 6-year olds would recall it all when they come for their 1st day of school in more than 1 month’s time from today.

The final item of the orientation was the re-placement of children to different classes. Some parents were kiasu (‘overly-earnest’ is the best translation I can give) and excited, waiting with bated breath. I made a joke that the teachers are in fact re-placing children according to how kiasu their parents were. They have no problem with the kids, it’s their parents that are the trouble-makers. I thought it was funny… but nobody laughed.

I am happy that everything went well today. And sad. I feel that my son is growing up too fast for me. But let me share with you a personal observation. When Mikhail was a baby / toddler, I always thought that I shall never love him as much as I loved him then. Such a cute and cuddly kid, I thought, with those huge Japanese cartoon eyes. Surely, when he grows up he will start to develop his own personality and character quirks, and shed the baby fat. No doubt, he will be less adorable to me. Less innocent. Less cute.

Now I can say that I was wrong. My love for him has grown on a steep learning curve. I love him for his good and bad habits. I love him for his patience and impatience. I love him for his smile and his scowls. I love him for his selfishness and generosity. I do, and I don’t know why I do.

As is often the case, such thoughts lead me back to my father and mother. And I believe that they too were faced with the same unexplained mystery. And that is why I know that my debt to them cannot be measured, and their love for me is counted every moment in a Heavenly Scale untouched by human weakness and caprice. This debt shall never be paid.

I would like to conclude this posting with the same question that I have often asked in this blog - If you share the same sentiments about your parents and your children, how can we not be brothers and sisters?

Have a great Saturday, sunshine.

Pax Taufiqa.

P/S – ‘Pantai Hospital, Ward C’ is from the 1st Chapter called ‘the Dam.SunSun.Ana’, completed June 2004.


Balqies Arafia said...

I feel a tear gushing down. Mika is a big boy now! arghhhhhh! I feel soooo olddddddddddddddddddd!

Milky Tea said...

You are at the brink of the prime of your life, Balqies! Enjoy it! Don't be an old boring do-do like me when I was your age.