I promised a week ago I would write more on Poetry, but watching TV an hour back made me change channels, so it is with fond memories I jot down this rumination.
Today I dedicate my Sunday's musings to two teachers who touched my life deeply, and greatly determined my life's career using the craft of writing exquisite English and be proud of it too. They started me on this lifelong journey -- exploring the exciting world of the written word and a story well told, in the English language. I say special thanks to Mr C. P. Rajah, who was our form-teacher in Standard 5, and inspired my voracious reading after initiating a class book club (mini-library), and another teacher-cum-form teacher at Secondary 1, Mr V.T. Nathan wo headed the school lower secondary library and expanded my horizons to the variety of books of adventure and poetry at that tender age of 13.
I shall never forget Mr Rajah's happy hours' entertainment with Robin Hood and his Merry Men at Sherwood Forest, and more beguiling, Mr Nathan's narrative of O'Henry's "The Last Leaf", and many more short stories, which inspired me to also write for my pocket mney from then on, which I mentioned earlier enabled me to visit the cinema during almost evrey weekend, with my siblings or one best friend. Natalie Wood, remember? Incidently, it was this best friend (from an all-boys' school, and naturally, "naughtier") who precociously exposed me to D. H. Lawrence's "Lady Chatterley's Lover", then a banned substance, like today's dadah.
I shall always remember devouring all the Biggles' and The Three Musketeers' adventures under Mr Rajah's watch, and later, as many of the Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot's exploits possible under Mr Nathan's. I am eternally grateful, and I believe, in those three short years I think I leapt from a Level 3 English standard to a Level 8 or 9 (from an arbitrary scale of 1 t0 10).
Today's rumination sprang from my just ended viewing of Boston Public's episode at around midnight in which a highly successful corporate lawyer was brought along by a teacher-friend to observe his handling of a "rowdy" class which required his intervention to break up a fight between two "thugs" from rival neighbourhood gangs. The teacher tested a solution to the social poblem by making the two put on their boxing gloves to "fight" out their animosities.
Impressed by "unconventional" ways adopted by the individual teachers in handling the daily problems encountered within and outside the classroom, the lady lawyer observed that her friend had turned from a man formerly always bouncing with laughter was now a sombre, serious man quite lost in thoughts as if always carrying his students' problems on his shoulders. Yet, he appeared quite contented, and she could see that his daily life had variety, bounce and spice, unlike hers with a predictable courtly routine.
At an advertisement break, I remarked to my sibling that given another choice, I would have liked the challenge of being a teacher. Yes, a teacher!
Another 15 minutes into the hour-long episode saw the lawyer discussing with her partner she was contemplating changing career, despite the unexpected question thrown her way by one of the loud students if "he could see her breasts" (yes, she the sexy one who even raised my blood pressure). Finally, the mate said she must be crazy, throwing up a six-figure annual salary for a fiver, and quite likely, she would quit anyway within a week, hence recommending she not quit the law practice but just try out teaching as a "temp" first!
The ending saw the brilliant corporate lawyer visitng the principal and his assistant at Boston High, and when asked the purpose of her visit, said in a resolute tone: "I want to be a teacher here!"
David E. Kelley stole the very words from my mouth, and he gets paid handsoely for it, I am sure, definitely, muc, much more than a teacher!
Today's piece is also a tribute to my sibling whose dedication to her pupils definitely showed, with many of her students in Chan Wa High visiting her for "free" tuition in English, and years later, paying courtesy with their expressions of "To teacher with love". I am always proud that this was one focused teacher who attained her University of London's degree in English Literature via self-study (with loads of help from the British Council Library) --another journey of sheer hard work, discipline and dogged determination.To bring back some sweet and sour memories, let's altogether rise and sing:
Those schoolgirls days, of telling tales and biting nails are gone,
But in my mind, I know they will live on and on,
But how do you thank someone
who has taken you from crayons to perfumes?
It isn't easy, but I'll try .....
I wonder how many of you still remember Lulu? No, she's not TheBoyNextDoor (visit Yancorner.blogspot.com, an All Fools' Day posting prompted by desiderata; Lulu starred with Sidney Poitier in, yes, you guess it: "To Sir With Love".
I'll return next Sunday with the deferred session on Poetry, but one never knows, I may yet change my mind, as we all adapt to life's fast-changing circumstances. I did mention somewhere the Darwinian theory of evolution and "Survival of the Fittest", No?
PS: Notice that I had without fail used the names of my favourite teachers always preceded with Mr? It is a habit which I have not been able to rid of (well, I don't want to, anyway) when referring to the "good" ones, and we must maintain this tradition and spirit, don't we?