Saturday, January 05, 2008

Cikgu Fendi at the Morgue

Cikgu Norafendi was no ordinary teacher. He was my class teacher for three years, from Form 1 all the way to Form 3. At the end of each term, Cikgu Fendi would put his wallet on his table and offered money to us who didnt have enough to go balik kampung. Those days, my father was already a pensioner. His pension was less than RM200 per month after deductions - loans and such. I had scholarship of RM30 per year, and the school (Muar) wasnt that far away from Kluang, but even RM5 was money i didnt have. His generosity to us was a huge help. He even loaned us some money, so me and some friends could set up a little stall selling burgers in the school compound.

And he guarded us like a mother hen too. There was this group of boys from other class who were perhap more than just a bit naughty back then. After the night prep, they would be hiding in the shadows looking for a chance to tease girls. Sometimes the teasing could get out of hand, some girls got molested. If those boys even lay a finger on us, Cikgu Fendi would call them to our classroom, removed his rings one by one, and then hit the hormonal boys. He earned quite a reputation as our guardian that none of us were ever bothered by those boys. He would probably be sued now, for hitting the students. You know how parents are like today. He meant well, and his education method, as barbaric as it may seem today, worked wonders on those boys.

He was also a very dedicated teacher. He taught us Maths and would call us 'anak toyol' if we kept repeating careless mistakes. But he would arrange for night and weekend classes, for free, for those in need of extra coaching. I was one of those.

When the education system was overhauled, he was transferred out from the school. Because he was a teacher's college graduate, not a degree holder, he was transferred to a primary school. Certificate or degree, i think he was selfless and a fine teacher. But the powers-that-be decided that college teachers are fit only for primary schools. So out he went.

I bumped into him some years ago, more than 10 years ago actually, in a mini bus in KL. I was then a student at UTM. He told me that he was teaching at some primary school in Kajang and life was so easy. Nobody asked any question in class, he said. And nobody wanted extra lessons too. He said it with a smile but i think he missed teaching secondary students at a boarding school, he missed the challenges.

He invited me to his house. I went and had lunch there. He was married and had maybe 2 kids.

And then he disappeared, or maybe i disappeared.

When my school had its 25th year celebration, the alumni turned to me for help in locating Cikgu Fendi. I was the last 'witness', the only link, even though the link was more than 10 years rusty. And not exactly reliable.

You see, i have problems in telling directions. Even if it was yesterday that i was at his place, i probably wouldnt remember it. More than 10 years? A lot happened in 10 years! Malaysia changed its PM, Saddam Hussin was hanged, the blue light was invented, hell.... vaccination against chicky pops passed FDA tests! Plus, he could have moved from Kajang, he could have moved house. Even if all factors remained the same, i wouldnt trust me for directions!

But how to say cannot when i havent even tried?

I scoured through the phone directory for his name. Negative.

I went through all Pejabat Pendidikan Daerah for his whereabouts. Negative.

Day of the dinner, two friends were assigned to drive me to Kajang to look for Cikgu Fendi.

What taman? They asked me. Dont remember.
Well, there was this jambatan before Kajang town, the taman was on the left. Or maybe right.
Kajang town is behind us, jambatan is infront, left or right? O-oh. confused. Not sure. Can we try both?
The house single storey or double?
Cant remember. O-Boy.

The first taman that we arrived at, i asked them to stop infront of a terraced-house. Any house. With primary-school age kids infront. We stopped at one.

Dek, kenal Cikgu Norafendi tak?
Tau tak kat taman ni yang mana satu rumah cikgu.
Ayah saya cikgu.
Oh ye ke, panggil ayah sekejap.
Ayah tak ada.
Tunjuk rumah cikgu yang lain, boleh?
Rumah sebelah saya, kiri kanan semua cikgu.
Oh okay. Terima kasih.

Went to house next door.

Cikgu, saya nak tumpang tanya, cikgu kenal tak Cikgu Norafendi?
Norafendi Sahri?
Dia Guru Penolong Kanan sekolah saya. nanti saya ambik nombor dia.

THAT easy peasey. Wasnt an impossible mission after all.

She gave me his number, i thanked her profusely and immediately dialled Cikgu Fendi's number. Cried a bit when he answered, it was him! But he was at the morgue at Hospital Kajang.
Tak apa, i said, kami ke sana.

And off we went to the morgue. It was his maid who died.

Cikgu Fendi was very much grey-er and older. But he was as cikgu-fendi as i remembered him to be. He couldnt attend the dinner, of course. Even if he could go, he wouldnt have transport.

Tom would be coming from Kajang, Cikgu. He could give you a ride.
Tapi saya pernah tumbuk dia. Hehehe.
Oh ada sorang lagi, Tonet will be coming from Bangi.
Dia pon saya pernah tumbuk. Hehehe...

And so, that was it. How i found the long-lost teacher at the morgue of Kajang Hospital.

Told you it's boring.



Blogger Hjh Esah Jolie said...

mmg la mission impossible kan? Tapi..apasal org gaji dia mati?

2:34 PM  
Blogger elisataufik said...

phuh.. nasib baik bukan dia yang mati..

so did he go or not?

12:37 AM  
Blogger OOD said...

Hjh Esah,

the maid was his maid by many years. By that, i mean: (1) SHe had served him for many years (2) she had a lot of mileage on her.

She wasnt young. She died of hypertension. No. He didnt punch her. Hehe..

no he didnt. And i still dont know where cikgu's house is. But i know where the morgue is. It is left of right of hospital kajang.

1:46 AM  
Blogger drbubbles said...

to search for a long lost teacher is one of a great act of kindness.
And must tell you, it's not boring.

6:59 AM  
Anonymous thebo said...

not boring at all... i was frustrated when the story ended. enjoyd reading every minute of it. i'll be back.

7:54 AM  

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