Yesterday I visited a friend, someone I knew recently. As recent as 2005. Of course time is relative. Apart from meeting him in 2005, and several phone calls between then and now, this is my second meeting with him. I really don't know whether he will qualify me as a friend. I hope he does! I do!
He heads the Institiut Perguruan Bahasa Bahasa Antarabangsa (IPBA), located in Lembah Pantai, neighboring Universiti Malaya. "MU" as we used to call Universiti Malaya is the menara gading I graduated from. It has no relationship with the footbal club somewhere in UK.
So as I drove up to Lembah Pantai, some memory of my undergraduate days in MU filled my thoughts. It was not difficult to locate the entrance to the Institute where my friend is the Pengarah. I was busy asking for direction to the Pengarah's office from the friendly guard that I failed to notice a bold sign at the entrance.
As I climbed the stairs to his office, a beautiful sajak was hung on the wall. I took a quick read. On my way down, I would give this sajak a click on my Nokia phone camera.
Seated comfortably in his office, I got to know my friend a little better. A PhD holder, he had now been entrusted to manage IPBA. IPBA runs 5 international language programs for teachers - English, Japanese, Spanish, French and German.
Dr Mohd Sofi had been a teacher all his life, also after graduating from MU. He had remained true to his calling. When he retires next year, he could look back with pride of those many students that will continue to call him "Cik Gu".
Later in the conversation, he proudly produced me a book he authored. Back in 2005, he set a goal to write this book - "A CASE FOR A CASE". The title may lead one to ask whether this is a law book. No. It was Dr Sofi's argument that case studies as a methodology to teach teachers should be adopted. I cannot elaborate further about the book as that was Dr Sofi's last book in his possession and he cannot part with it to give this friend.
I now have two friends who have given/shown me books they wrote. I have none to offer in return.........yet!
I guessed he was a bit disappointed that I missed the banner at the entrance proudly claiming the pride of being a teacher. I certainly did not miss it on my way out.
I penned back here the sajak and dedicate it to all the teachers who had taught me and to all other teachers living or blissfully in permanent rest. I also dedicate it to a silent teacher in Batu Rakit.
Jika hari ini seorang Perdana Menteri berkuasa
Jika hari ini seorang Raja menaiki takhta
Jika hari ini seorang Presiden sebuah negara
Jika hari ini seorang ulama yang mulia
Jika hari ini seorang peguam yang menang bicara
Jika hari ini seorang penulis terkemuka
Jika hari ini siapa sahaja menjadi dewasa
Sejarahnya dimulakan oleh seorang guru biasa
Dengan lembut sabarnya mengajar tulis-baca
Dimana-mana dia berdiri dimuridnya
Disebuah sekolah mewah di ibu kota
Dibangunan tua sekolah Hulu Terengganu
Dia adalah guru mewakili seribu buku;
Semakin terpencil duduknya diceruk desa
Semakin bererti tugasnya kepada negara
Jadilah apa pun pada akhir kehidupan mu, guruku
Budi yang diapungkan diulangi ilmu
Panggilan keramat "cikgu" kekal terpahat
Menjadi kenangan ke akhir hayat
Usman Awang 1979