When Sofie was still alive, I used to visit her regularly without fail on monthly basis. I used to visit her on weekdays as she’s always home. Even when she started selling nasi lemak, by 11am she should be home, so visiting her on weekday afternoons wasn’t a problem.
Now that Sofie is gone, the children stay with their aunt Rozi. Rozi works Mondays to Saturdays, and sometimes even on Sundays she works overtime. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t mind if I visit the children when she’s not around, especially since the children know me well, and had even followed me around without anyone else accompanying them, but I wanted to visit when Rozi is around, so we could at least discuss about the children’s wellbeing.
So yes, after checking with Rozi to make sure she’d be around on Sunday afternoon, yesterday I went to visit. I got there almost 3 pm, and they just finished their lunch. So late? Ahh, had late breakfast, so late lunch it was.
Only Sofie’s 2 younger ones were at home. Azlan, the eldest, was working while the second one, Azman, was at his culinary school’s hostel. The younger two, Saiful and Ika, were as chatty as ever, excitedly telling me so many updates, to the extent that I didn’t know which one of them to listen to. Their aunt Rozi told me that they were too lazy to study. Saiful is still in the midst of his school exams while Ika was done with hers. She didn’t do well this time. That’s understandable since she had skipped school for almost a month when her mother was hospitalised, and then she had to be transferred to a new school nearer to her aunt’s house.
I told Ika that while I could understand her poor results in the recent exams, that doesn’t give her the excuse not to study. In fact she should study harder as she needed to catch up with her friends.
When I asked the kids about their interest and ambition, Saiful said he likes mechanical stuff. Even now at 14, his friends go to him if they needed some repairs done to their bicycles and stuff like that. Saiful sometimes even modifies them. Saiful even said that after form 3 he wants to join Giat Mara for a short course instead of going into form 4. I showed him my fist and said, “Ni nampak?” to which he immediately responded, “Tak, tak, tak… main-main aje.” The aunt then suggested that maybe he applies to get into a Sekolah Teknik at form 4. I agreed that was a better option. I then challenged Saiful to target for at least a diploma in mechanical engineering instead of just a cert. I want him to aim higher.
Then when I asked Ika what her ambition was, at first she said she wanted to be a policewoman. Then she said, “Adik nak jadi sukarelawan macam Makcik Fizah lah.” Her aunt quickly chipped in, “Nak jadi macam Makcik Fizah kenalah belajar rajin-rajin.”
And why did she want to be like me?
“Best jadi macam Makcik Fizah. Dapat jalan sana-sini. Dulu gi Bali. Pas tu gi Vietnam. Ni nanti nak gi Kinabalu lagi…”
It’s the jalan-jalan part that she was interested in. Duh! I think many people out there go jalan-jalan a lot more than I ever did.
While I was chatting with them, a text message came in from Azman, their no. 2 brother, asking me what time I was coming. I had promised him I’d come on Sunday to hand over a used laptop which I managed to get for him, free. He then asked if I could bring along some laundry detergent and body shampoo for him.
So yep, from Rozi’s house, I headed off to Azman’s hostel, and on the way stopped by a grocery store to get some stuff for him. As I was paying for the stuff, the guy at the counter asked, “Akak ni cikgu ke?” Somehow so many strangers already asked me the same question. In fact some don’t even ask if I’m a teacher, once a chicken seller just asked, “Cikgu tak ngajar ke hari ni?”
Anyway, when I got to Azman’s hostel, the gate was opened, so I just drove in. Azman’s dorm was just on the ground floor, and so I parked my car right beside his dorm. Before I could even find his number on my phone to inform him that I was already there, Azman came out, smiling.
I had a short chat with him, to find out if he had any problems. I didn’t tell him that I just went to visit his younger siblings. I wanted to see if his stories are the same with what his siblings told me earlier (about him wanting to work part time etc). Thank God I got the same version. He didn’t really seem to have too much of a problem – it’s just the rebellious side of him that was the reason behind him playing truant last week. He had in fact after that went to see his aunt Rozi, cried and apologised to her. (Azman doesn’t know that I know about this.)
Before I left, I told him I didn’t want to get any more calls from his lecturer complaining to me about his discipline. Of course to some people promises are easy to make, but not easy to keep. However, Azman is now fully aware that his lecturer does call me if he misbehaves, and I, on the other hand, do inform his aunt about it. Hopefully he will keep that in mind before he even thinks of misbehaving again.