While I was walking through (and sinking into) the peat soil of the oil palm estates in Saribas earlier this week, a small drama was unfolding at home. On Monday, Mikhail, my 7 year old son, returned from school, and he was strangely quiet and withdrawn. While changing, Bibik saw that he was furtively looking at some papers and quickly shoving them back into his school bag. In the afternoon, he continued being very quiet, so Bibik went to the tv room to see what he was up to. To her surprise she found him crying alone on the sofa. So she asked him what was wrong, and in between his heartbreaking sobs, he told her that he got a C and a B in one of the subjects he sat of his recent primary 1 exams. Tearfully, he pleaded to her, "Sorry... Bibik, Sorry... Mika tak buat lagi (I won't do it again). She answered, "Hey, Mikhail, apa nak mintak sorry kat Bibik ni? (Hey, Mikhail, why do you need to say sorry to me?)
"Mika tak dengar cakap Bibik... Mika tak mau lagi tengok tv banyak banyak, Mika tak mau lagi main laptop banya-banyak... Sorry Bibik (I didn't listen to you, Bibik... I don't want to watch too much tv anymore, I don' want to play with my laptop anymore... I am sorry, Bibik)", said my son mournfully. Bibiq sat with him and gently consoled him, but he continued crying in her arms until finally exhausted, he stopped. But it didn't end there, for twice she found him sitting quietly as tears trickled down his cheeks.Finally tired out by the day's miserableness, Mikhail insisted on going to bed early and he fell asleep still crying. Bibik did her best, but by then even she was crying. "Saya kesian sangat tengok dia ni...(I felt so sad looking at him acting this way)", she said.