The Malay word for it is “sebak”. It could be due to too happy or too sad, or trying hard to control one’s emotion over something.
That was what happened to me last Friday at Mae’s function. A few times I felt tears in my eyes, and had to wipe them off discreatly.
Let me figure out why I was so overwhelmed with emotion…
I can’t really explain, but suddenly I was reminded of the umpteen times I’ve attended the kids’ similar functions, starting from Nuni, Bok, Ayi, Nafis and now Mae. They used to receive academic awards ever since they were in primary school. All 5 of them (Aina not included) went to the same primary school, and each year I looked forward to attending such event.
I only missed the event in 1995 when I was in UK pursuing my MSc, and that year Nuni received the Overall Best Student (Female) Award!
The first 3 kids went to a nearby secondary school, and did us proud again when they continued to receive similar awards.
Suddenly it occurred to me that soon, there would be no more such functions to attend to now that the kids are big.
As a student I used to be one of the recipients too. Each time, I had no parent to attend to the function. I think only ONCE (or maybe twice) my uncle came to see me received the prizes. Back then, I didn’t feel anything – no sadness nor disappointment. Mum passed away when I was in Form 1 (1975) and my first Speech Day/Prize-giving Day was in 1976. Dad was still working in Singapore, so, he never had the opportunity to attend either. Come to think of it, dad didn’t know much about grades. When I told him I got 7As and 1B for my LCE, he asked me back if those were good results? I remember laughing, and affirmed it. Poor dad… He didn’t know much, but he really wanted me to succeed in life. He told me many many times that if I am a nobody, even relatives will shun me, but if I become successful, strangers would come forward to claim that they are related to me.
Anyway, back to my emotions last Friday. Maybe, when I saw so many parents came to see their kids receive the prizes/awards, suddenly I felt so sad that during my functions, hardly anyone came! The strange thing is that while I was a student, I never felt that way. I remember being very happy, and enjoying every moment of it – even the rehearsals were fun – a good excuse to get out of the classroom! It’s strange that the sadness only came over 30 years later.
The joy of receiving the prizes can’t really be described in words. It may not guarantee real success in life. But hey, it is still a recognition, nevertheless, and human likes recognition, in what ever form. One may not be successful or high-flying in one’s career (like yours truly) but the functions surely give sweet memories.
It’s only natural for the school to differentiate those who got ALL 1As (or in my days we used to call them A1s) from those who just got ALL As (their As here could be 1A or 2A, with 1A being better than 2A). I felt for those who got 8 1As and 1 2A, because they are only 1 short of getting ALL 1As!
I could feel the teachers’ pride as their students got up the stage to receive the awards! I was once a teacher, and one of the highlights of the year was the day the exam results came out. We could feel the excitement and the sadness that came with the results.
Unfortunately I didn’t stay long. 6 years as a secondary school teacher and 6 years as A-Level lecturer. Only when I was teaching students who sit for external exams that I really felt the anxiety.Teaching in a university does not give the same impact, because we teach for one semester, and then at the end of the semester the students sit for the exam. Most of the time the exam papers were set by us. Teaching external exam classes need extra dedication, because we would be with the same students for 2 complete years, preparing them for the exam papers that we only got to see AFTER they sat for them!
Oh, no, I miss teaching!! But I am too scared to go back to such teaching because at this age I am afraid I could no longer stand the pressure as I used to. I really salute those who remain teachers until they retire. They’ve done a great job!! And last Friday the school gave tribute to a teacher who’d be retiring later this year!
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