I've never thought that my presence has caused a lot of interest among the students. They still don't know how to address me, or to categorise me.
The whole class stood up as I walked in briskly into the room.
"Assalamualaikum.... (pause) cikgu.."
"Waalaikumussalam and good afternoon."
"Good afternoon...(pause) teacher."
It then occurred to me that they usually use the Muslim greetings for Malay teachers and the normal greetings in English for non-Malay teachers. As I am a Muslim as well as a non-Malay, they've become confused. A simple greeting became complicated and took longer than necessary. Haiyah... will have to reteach them how to greet a person like me.
" Are you a Chinese?"asked a cheeky Chinese boy who was supposed to be doing his essay.
" Yes, I am."
" Are your mother and father Chinese?"
"Well, if you want to interview me, you may see me after class," I replied, and his friends laughed. I was firm with them and they already know that they have to complete every given task before they could leave the room. I chose not to entertain their personal questions because some students will try any tricks they know to avoid doing written work.
Teachers too have started to ask.
"Are you of mixed parentage?"
A Chinese teacher asked me after realising that I understand Mandarin.
"No, I am a Chinese."
" Really? I thought you're only half Chinese."
"I can assure you that I'm 100% Chinese," I laughed.
Great, there goes Aliya again, causing curious stares wherever she goes. My presence in school can be considered a revelation to some who used to think that all Chinese are either Buddhists or Christians. I am a living proof that there are Chinese Muslims in this country. Well, I have to be careful and project a good image of Islam. Being an ambasador for Islam can be both fun but challenging. I'm enjoying myself :)