Tuesday, September 25


Sibuk.Hujan seharian menyukarkan pakaian menjadi kering. Saya menyidai di halaman rumah. Waktu pula sudah hampir masuk asar. Anak-anak sedang tidur di bilik.
Tib-tiba saya ternamapk kelibat seorang lelaki berkopiah dan memegang fail berjalan menuju ke rumah jiran.
Ahhhh, peminta derma agaknya. Hampir setiap bulan ada sahaja pemungut derma yang sampai ke depan rumah kami. Ada yang dari Kemboja, Thailand dan terbaru ini, ramai pula datang dari Myanmar.

Saya mempercepatkan kerja menyidai pakaian.
"Assalamualaikum.." lelaki itu memberi salam di depan pintu pagar rumah saya setelah jiran saya tetap tidak keluar dari rumahnya.
Saya mendiamkan diri. Risau nak jawab salamnya sebab saya berseorangan di depan rumah.
Lagipun saya seorang wanita, dia pula seorang lelaki, walaupun dia mungkin sedang memungut derma.
Zaman sekarang ni, silap hari boleh berlaku rompakan akibat terlalu percaya kepada orang tidak dikenali yang datang ke depan rumah kita.
Teringat sebuah hadis yang menyebut sekiranya salam diberi sebanyak tiga kali tidak dijawab, tetamu itu perlu beredar dari depan rumah.

Saya segera menundukkan kepala dan masuk ke dalam rumah. Pintu segera ditutup.
Dia memberi salam sekali lagi di luar pintu pagar rumah. Dan sekali lagi. Dan sekali lagi.
Saya teruskan kerja saya di dalam rumah.
Terasa bersalah pun ada sebab tidak menjawab salamnya tetapi keselamatan diri lebih diutamakan, tatkala suami tidak ada di rumah.

Hmmm, bersalahkah saya sebab tidak menjawab salamnya itu?
Jikalau jawab, takut nanti dia meminta derma pula, dan terpaksa pula saya keluar semula ke pintu pagar itu seorang diri.
Ahhh, biar bersalah asalkan selamat.
Apa pendapat anda?????

Thursday, September 20


She's Evelynn. He's Sebastian.
She was 16 and he was 18.
They were friends but they have never met each other.
She saw his name in a pen-pal column in a teenage magazine, and decided to write to him, extending her hand in friendship.To her delight, he replied. And they stuck a friendship through letters, which was to last for more than a decade.

Unlike her other pen-pals who would ask for a photo of her by the second letter, he never did so. She didn't know how he looked like, and she was not bothered to find out. His letters were initially short but that did not deter her from continuing to write to him. She wrote long letters, describing her days as a school prefect and her hobbies. Soon, he started to open up, and shared his feelings and daily activities with her.
He told her about his problems in school, and admitted that he was not a good student. He was in fact, a shy boy who didn't have many friends. Distance and the fact that they had never met or talked on the phone made him felt safe to share his feelings with her.
She listened and gave him advice, encouraging him to do well in his studies.
It usually took him 5 days to reply her letters, so she wait patiently for the postman to arrive. On the fifth day, she would eagerly check the postbox, hoping to see his letter.
She began to recognise his scrawny handwriting and knew his moods by the way he wrote.
Never once throughout their correspondence, did they mention about love.
It just escaped their attention, or perhaps they were too afraid that the mere mention of that word would change their friendship into something they were not ready for.
She was happy just to have him as a friend.
She knew that he would not pop that question, and she knew that she was not ready either.
She also knew that he did not have any special girlfriend, because he was too shy to approach a girl.
And they remained as platonic friends.

One day, on a whim, she suggested that they exchange photographs.
"No, not the latest pic of ourselves but one taken when we were babies. I'd like a baby photo of you!" she wrote.
Surprisingly, he sent one, taken when he was a year old.
She replied with one of her own.

Their letters got longer and longer and one day, he laughed as he told her he had to spend an hour reading her 17-page letter. She replied that she would not write that long anymore, so as to spare him the torture of reading her ramblings.
When he didn't do well in his SPM, she told him not to give up.
He went on to Form Six, but complained that he couldn't cope with Accountancy. She told him to persevere as his mother wants him to be an accountant.
Later, she went off to college and their correspondence stopped for a while.
They continued writing to each other again when she sent him a note, asking about his whereabouts.
By then, he was going to further his studies in New Zealand. She was dating a college mate.

He continued writing to her, describing his days as an undergraduate in a university in New Zealand.
He added postcards and brochures. And to her pleasure, he also sent her his personal photographs.
She was glad that he was happy there.
Then she got married and they lost touch with each other.

A few years later, she sent him a New Year greeting card with her latest address.
He replied, and told he that he had returned home as an accountant.
They kept in touch but he told her that his newly-wedded wife didn't like him to continue corresponding with her. He said that his wife was jealous of their friendship.
She assured him that she understood, and she wished him well. She bid him goodbye.

They stopped writing to each other after that.

Suddenly, a year later, she received a letter from him again.
It was about an urgent matter.
He told her that he needed her help.
"Do you still have the baby photo of me that I sent to you?" he asked.
He described that his first-born, a boy, was diagnosed with a type of Down Syndrome. And they had only discovered it, so he needed the photo to check whether his son looked like him when he was at that age. It was hard for him and his wife to accept their son's condition.
She rushed back to her hometown, hoping that the photograph was still in the drawer where she had last kept all his letters, tied with a red ribbon.
Fortunately, it was still there.
She posted the photo back to him, and that was the last she heard from him.

Throughout the years, she tried to look for him but she knew that it's like looking for a needle in a haystack.
She didn't want to meet him personally, but she'd be happy if she knew that he's doing well.
She also knew that theirs is a special kind of friendship, which might never be experienced again in her lifetime.
In these days of internet and facebook, the art of letter-writing is lost. Most teenagers today do not know how to write a friendly letter.
And sometimes, as she passes his hometown, she said a silent prayer for him, that God would bless, guide and give him happiness.

Saturday, September 1


"Teacher, what does this word mean? s-t-a-t-u-t-o-r-y."
I looked at Suren and sighed.
We were in the middle of a writing exercise, writing a formal letter to be exact, and here was Suren, ever-ready with a special question.
" Where did you get the word?"
"Err, today's Star."
Arggghh, I just remembered the headlines for that day's news.
"You mean this words?" I walked to the board and wrote the phrase - statutory rape - on the wall.
One of the perils of being an English language teacher is that the students treat you like a walking dictionary. No, make it a walking encyclopaedia.
"Yes, that's it!" said Suren with an excited voice.
"That word means that when a person has sex with an under-aged girl who is less than 16 years old, he can be jailed for statutory rape," I replied.
"But why is he not jailed?" asked Suren again, referring to a national squad bowler.
I looked at their eager faces, those Fifth Formers of mine, the class which I took over recently when their regular teacher fell terribly sick and had to go on a long medical leave.
I could hear the bell tinkling loudly in my mind. There goes a properly planned lesson. To be postponed due to the urgency of the moment.. sigh.
" Well, the Malaysian law states that if a person has sex with a girl who is less than 16 years old, he can be jailed, because the girl is considered too immature to think for herself and agree to having sex. But based on this report, the judge decided to bound him for 5 years, and not send him to jail."
"Why is he not jailed? Just because he is a athlete?" Wani voiced her dissatisfaction.
"Bound for 5 years means that if he is caught having sex with another under-aged girl, he will go straight to jail," I explained.
"You mean we cannot have sex until the girl is 16 years old?"
"You will be jailed if the girl reported you to the police. If she's not yet 16 years old, you will be charged under this act, statutory rape. But if she's already 16 years and above, then the police will look for proof."
"Even if she agrees.. err, consensual?" Halim read from the newspaper.
"If she's below 16, yes.. even if it's consensual sex, meaning both the boy and girl agree to do it together, no force at all. Because the girl is considered a child until her 16th birthday."
"If we have sex with a 15 years old girl in America, will we be jailed?" Peter asked.
"Peter, I believe America does not have the same law like we have here in Malaysia. No, you will not be jailed for that. But don't try that, ok. Save your virginity, your 'dara' and 'teruna' until your marriage day. "
The students laughed.
" Take it from an experienced person, the only one who's married in this class. If you already have sex before marriage, what else is special that you can give your husband and wife on your marriage day? Believe me, the moment when you as 'teruna and dara' touched each other's hands on your wedding night, the electric current sent by your hands will be very very special...so darlings, save your virginity until your wedding day, ok. "
"Teacher ni laaa..!" they roared.
I smiled my sweetest.
If I had entertained their questions further, I might be asked tougher ones, like using condoms, oral sex, etc. I don't mind really, but I wouldn't like it if my boss happens to walk by and hear us talking about protected and pre-marital sex.
You'd never know with these teenagers. They do have a lot of unanswered questions but nobody to ask.

Teens today are not stupid. They read and they make their own conclusion.
From my survey, I know that most of my 'darlings' who do read and know about the recent 'fiasco' at the courts, disagree with the judges' verdicts in letting off the male offenders so lightly.
And I worry.
I worry each time my dear female students are absent from school and their parents are unaware of their daughters' whereabouts. Because I know that some of them, as young as 13, have older boyfriends who meet them outside the school compound.
And I know that those girls, despite their growing bodies, are quite naive, and can be easily tricked.
RM50 to them is a lot of money.

Ok, I won't say further.
Just wondering.
If  by Allah's will, in the near future, one of those judges' under-aged daughters is found to have unprotected sex with a man with 'a promising future', would he come to the same decision he made last week?
Would he not impose a jail sentence for the man who had consensual sex with his daughter and have him bound for 5 years?
I do wonder...

Would you want your under-aged daughter to see a man who had sex with her go free? 
Would you want your son to try this, because he doesn't have to go to jail anymore?

note: In view of the recent news: