Saturday, November 10, 2012

Life is fleeting...

On my last day of school, I heard that one of my students had been electrocuted to death... at his father's roadside stall. Details were sketchy but his death was so senseless. He leaned against an electric pole and the next minute he was gone; the pole had come alive with current, probably one of the live wires had been exposed...

R was 13, and in Form One. I only started teaching him sometime during mid year, when we were forced to reshuffle the students according to sets under the MBMMBI programme. The set system caused problems of their own too as the movement gave the kids plenty of opportunity to skip classes. And R was one of the 4 who skipped my classes. Little did they know that I kept track of my students's attendance for every class...

I went round the school a couple of times, trying to hunt them down but to no avail. So finally, I took all the boys' belongings (bags, books) and lugged them to the staffroom. It was a matter of time before all 4 showed up at my table. They gave all kinds of reasons why they skipped classes... and of course, not being understand the English class would be one of the chief reasons.... Anyway, I did not send them to the PK HEM as it would have been counter productive. What I did instead was told them to get their parents to come see me to claim their belongings back, which they did not want. Having a record of their attendance and also of their work not done helped a great deal in making them realize that they were cornered....

I made them go back to class and think about what I said and told them to come back to me when they had a satisfactory answer, which they did. R, I noticed was the quietest among the lot. He hung behind the group, a little shy. I spoke to him in a little Mandarin as I found out that he had attended a Chinese primary school. He's Malay incidentally. It's easy to tell the kids who have attended Chinese schools most of the time as they are usually more polite and subdued. His forehead was a little big, I noticed too. I thought he had signs of hydrocephalus... (many years ago, I did a minor in Special Ed and one of my case studies with whom I spent lots of time with was a girl with hydrocephalus.)

Anyway, the boys came back later. We struck up a deal. And that was the end of them playing truant where my classes were concerned. From that day on, they were in class. R remained quiet and subdued but I noticed his eyes would often light up when I paid him an occasional compliment for his work. Only once he had to sit on the floor to complete his work but after that he always completed his work.

News of students passing away comes once in a while. It affects us in different ways. In death, I discovered that he was an only child. His name means blessing. He was a gift to his parents in their later years.... after many years of trying. I cannot imagine their sense of loss. His father is in his seventies. And the boy has an upcoming appointment to check his slightly bulging forehead. It was a senseless death. And it highlights the danger of all those open and haphazardly built road side stalls which authorities close an eye to. We live in the tropics. Wire insulation deteriorates quite quickly over time. I am not sure about maintenance but what I see around indicates that it's not that great. And we have fierce thunderstorms too... with more great displays of lightning lately. The weather feels 'fiercer' these days.

And on the same night, a friend called me up about her father stricken with cancer and requested that we go see him to assure and comfort him. And so went. He passed on the next day. It's depressing to hear of deaths and know that one is near. It's heart wrenching to see suffering. I don't know... I mean maybe the last couple of days have been days filled with emotions... hence, maybe the feelings tend to hit at a greater intensity. And maybe that's why many of us choose to numb ourselves with things that take our minds and emotions away from all these.... and in the process numbing out everything else too.

1 comment:

Thomas C B Chua said...

AJ7, The Good Lord gives. The Good Lord takes away. Blessed be His name.Cheer up. Have a restful holidays.