It was almost 13 years ago and I was in Form 4, sweet seventeen. (sigh, those were the days). It is a universal knowledge in Malaysia that Form 4 is the so-called honeymoon year, but it is definitely not in my beloved good old S.M.A.I. as well as other state government-funded religious high schools (orang Pahang panggil sekolah Arab). As far as I could remember, since Form 2, I had not been experiencing any honeymoon year: Form 2 (Sijil Rendah Agama S.R.A ), Form 3 (PMR), and then in Form 4, we need to take S.M.A. @ Sijil Menengah Agama.
I was among the first batch who took Science Stream in sekolah Arab Pahang. There were 21 of us. Honestly, being the pioneers, we were struggling with the lack of facilities, lack of teachers, yet we were never out of spirit. But still, we were not so much into sitting for S.M.A. hehe. And here Ustaz A, came into light. He was responsible for teaching us Insha’ (Arabic Essay) and Fiqh.
Ustaz A was famously known for his funny and cynical remarks. He would mutter his punch lines unexpectedly, yet his face was expressionless, classic! He also had many fascinating and weird ideas. The most memorable one is his suggestion for us to get married while still in high school.
One day, he told us, “kalo kawein mase sekoloh kan senang, boleh belajo same-same.” The whole class laughed in shock.
The boys loved to provoke Ustaz A, “susah lah ustaz”. He replied casually in his Pahang accent, “awok kalo nampok tudung perempuan balik pintu pun mesti doh rase ape-ape dok. Sebab tu saya suruh kawin je. Senang.”
The boys tried to rebut, playfully, “mana ada ustaz, tak rasa apa-apa pun.”
He answered with his ever famous expressionless face,”awok tak usoh nok pedo’oh (pedo’oh: cheating in Pahang accent). And the whole class shook with laughter J.
He also liked to tease us at the back. Since we were religious school students, the boys were seated at the front rows and the girls were seated at the back. He used to tell us at the back to keep quiet when we giggled. (I wonder why girls love to giggle). His usual remark was, “haa.. kat belakang tu, suke je kejenya.” But we never got offended or hurt, we always giggled back.
For Insha’, I always got high marks since I really love creative writing be it in English, Malay or Arabic. I remember there was one time I got 97 or 98 out of 100. Of course, you could not expect any praise from Ustaz A. When he handed me my paper, he said, “sebenonye tadek le bagus sangat lagi ni, tapi boleh lah.” Surprisingly I did not feel insulted at all; somehow I just knew that he was impressed with my work. (hehe so perasan)
Come to think of it, I had drawn a conclusion the reason why we did not get offended or hurt with his cynical remarks is because he was fair in his treatment to all of us. Even if he had any favourite student, he never showed it. Despite his cynical tone and remarks, I could sense his honesty.
Being a teacher myself now, I hope I could be as memorable as Ustaz A has become. Ustaz A passed away on 22nd May, Friday afternoon due to his leukemia disease. He was buried the very same day after Isha’ prayer and Alhamdulillah I managed to pay his family a visit. My father was among the congregation member for Ustaz A’s jenazah prayer. He told me the crowd was so huge that people commented it was like Friday prayer. Al-Fatihah to Ustaz A. May Allah reward his good deeds and forgive all his sins.