Many years ago, when I was in primary school, to fill up those Kad 001, my teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said I wanted to be a teacher. Then as I grew up, I wanted to be many other things. I wanted to be a lawyer, a psychologist, an actress, a singer (ok, no need to laugh), among other things. But somehow, through divine intervention (yes, I believe it was that), I came back to my first ambition, to be a teacher.
So 16th May, every year, Malaysia celebrates Teacher's Day, on a national level. It is a day to honour those of us who have given ourselves in service to educate the next generation, to build them up, to guide them as they grow into adulthood. Whether the teacher teaches kindergarten children, or college students, each of us has a role to play. A lot of teachers have actually given a lot of themselves to the schools and students they encounter. The pepatah that teachers are like candles that burn themselves in order to light the way for others ... that still holds true although not in everyone.
Today I'd like to remember a few of my former teachers. In Std 1, I had Mrs Pathi, a motherly woman. And that's all I can remember, sorry. In Std 2, I think I remember Mr Diong, then in Std 3, Mr Choo. Can't remember much about them except what they looked like then. Then in Std 4, Ms Maheswari, a real tigress of a woman. Also Mr Yuen CK who was a trainee then (and now lecturer in UKM!), who was a sight for sore eyes and ears (because he took over some of Ms Maheswari's classes). Std 5 there was Ms Oh Teik Joo, who is a wonderful person, caring and dedicated. Std 6 I had Mr Chan Weng Yin, whom I remember as also the basketball coach. Yes I was also in the basketball team then (unbelievable, I know). Even Mr Veerasingam (now Dato Veerasingam, a politician) was my teacher at one point.
In Form 1, Mr Joseph Lai was my class teacher, but I remember enjoying BM with En Mat Saad. Form 2, Mrs Sundram was the class teacher - someone who loved decorating the class and we almost always won cleanest and most beautifully decorated class. Her best friend, Mrs Ng Weng Hong was my Geograph teacher. Form 3 is a blur, maybe because we were all too busy preparing for the SRP. I think I remember Mrs Peter Chan as the Science teacher that year. Form 4, we had En Aris, the Bio teacher. I still remember his BIG eyes and very funny hair. Form 5, Pn Noraini was the class teacher. But through the years, teachers like Ms Cheong Mee Lin, Mrs Wong Tong Chow, Mr Arthur, Ms Irene Cheong have to be mentioned. They were a beacon of light in the school, helping those of us who needed the guidance and help from them. Mr Tham Leong is another teacher I should mention. He was the discipline master, and I still remember how he punished a student for shouting and saying bad words to a prefect - me.
In UPM, how can I forget Mr Malachi Edwin (now Dr Edwin), En Baharuddin, Dr Zain, Cik Sharifah Zainab (now Dr Sharifah), Pn Sharmeem (now Dr Sharmeem), and a few others. They all had a hand in inspiring me to be a teacher, and not just any teacher, but to be a dedicated teacher.
Yes, I had some, very good teachers, even those whose names I have forgotten. I'd like to dedicate this day to them, and I hope that they are well, and still have a passion for education (whether they still teach or not). And I pray that I will not fail them. I hope that as they have passed the torch to me, I will be able to pass the torch to others. And may the flame of knowledge, wisdom and humanity burn in the heart of each and every teacher in the world.