I was not good at Math. I had 9 out of 100 once. This was my first test. The test started at 7 AM on a fine Saturday morning.
I was still on my bed sleeping soundly. Who in their right mind would wake up early and do a Math test on a day like this?
At 8 AM I heard a shout across the lawn. I was living in a hostel. Was it my name? It grew louder and louder and after about half an hour it came so close it could feel its respiration.
Indeed he is close-by.
The Math teacher was standing beside my bed, with a face that put tomato to shame shaking with anger. So that’s how I woke up and went to the test. It was about 9 AM. 15 minutes and it’s over. I continued sleeping on the desk. I only got to the first question halfway.
9% was not acceptable for the Math teacher. He assumed that I have hidden potential. He mentioned a word that sounds like ‘smart’. I don’t know anything that rhymes with it so probably that was it.
Me? Potential in Maths? And I thought I had strong imagination!
The whole batch was put under scrutinize because there would be a big exam coming. We were put under classes from Set 1 until Set 6 according to our level and this is done by the test done on that Saturday morning.
Guess what set did I got?
Set 5! Woohoo! I know I’m not smart but It’s nice to know that there are people less smarter than you. Maybe I would grow to like the teacher, at least I’m not in Set 6 with Pak Yem.
Did I tell you that Pak Yem was the one screaming my name? He is one of the best Math teacher the school ever had (and the most furious and strict and loud-mouth complete with most acidic tongue. I am not exaggerating.)
He’s a genius and he brought prestige to the school with excellent results in Maths every year (though he once told me that he got C5 in Maths. Hahahaha! He sucked, big time!)
But Pak Yem wasn’t satisfied torturing me. He had the power to remove me from Set 5 to Set 6. I wish you can see his big smile when I entered his first class. The exact smile that says ‘Oh, you know you’re gonna get it.’
Of course I got it. The whole class got it.
He tortured us from the beginning till the end of each class. Exercises, extra class, class room presentations, etc. He shouted and will try his best to injure us mentally. He made me stand on the table, which is very near to the fan on full blast. He made me stay outside of the class because I came late. He is mean in the very essence.
If you think I would sit and enjoy his tortures then you must be sick. I had the guts to skip his class (when people would consider suicide bombing less intimidating rather than skipping his class), imitate him while doing my presentation, while standing outside being late I asked the gardener out (Pak Yem called me in immediately), I skipped school a week before the big exam which in turn gave him migraine for the whole period (his wife called me and begged me to come back to school as I was taking it slow in Perlis. I said I’ll go back to Johor in a week, not less.) I did everything I could and in the end he didn’t dare to be mean to me because he knew that I was too stupid to understand the consequences of my actions.
He is the smart one 🙂
But one thing I admit is that he does have a great talent in teaching, also he never gives up. Ever.
He is convinced that everything is easy. There is always the easy way. It’s just numbers. You manipulate them, not the other way round. He would show you the way, step by step until you have everything under control. He tells you that you can do it, that we still have time until that fated day when we would enter the examination hall and finish what we started.
He was most proud when I gave him the results of my trial exam. Even more for the results of the big exam. He knew that I had it in me long before that, even when me myself never thought that I could be good in such a miserable subject.
So I learned that it means something when there is somebody putting a little bit of faith in you because you do have the potential. Everyone does.
He means a lot to me. I visited him a few years back and his head was full of grey hairs and he accused me of giving most of it. I can’t deny that one but I am happy that I have a special spot on his head.
Thank you Pak Yem!