Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Wind beneath Our Wings

Did you ever know that you're my hero,
and everything I would like to be?

I can fly higher than an eagle,

for you are the wind beneath my wings.

Thank you, thank you,

Thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings1

Teachers! There is only one way you would feel about them. No two way about it. You can only love them that is. Beyond our own parents, they are inarguably the most influential figures for us. They were with us from when we were kids, right through our adult life. Depending on what stage of our lives they appeared, their prominence or influence on our lives may differ, of course.

The fact that we spent twenty-hour day, seven-day week in school speak volume for our teachers’ influence on us. We were under their sphere of influence practically all the time for at least five formative years from 1976-1980.

Caption: MRSM KB teachers in the prime of their lives - don’t they all looked elegant? But more importantly, they were such a dedicated teachers to all of us!

Many of us would be able to recall with fondness most, if not all, of our teachers. We looked to them in awe. They taught us, guided us, educated us, enlightened us, tutored us, disciplined us, drilled us, and indoctrinated us so that we could all be useful person in our lives. For that matter, they even humoured us!

At least they tried. You can never fault them on that aspect.

Each of them is individual in their own right. Some are strict, some are more lenient, some are like fatherly, or motherly-figure to us, while there are some who are like friends. But they were all united under one common goal; that is to ensure that we would all be citizens who would one day contribute to the nation. As such, we would respect them all the same. They have basically dedicated five good years for us – and that is inarguably the best five years of our lives.

And how many of us have crushes on our teachers. Probably not many would be too shy to admit now days, though many would vehemently denied it then. Of course we have all outlived our crushes, but that goes to show how important teachers played in our lives. (Perhaps the reverse may be true too, but that is a different story.)

It is often said that teachers work in the background. While the students and parents took all the fame, if they are successful, they (teachers) are often blamed if their students failed. They were in fact miracle workers, or at least expected to work miracles on their students.

All of our teachers at MRSM were miracle workers. They probably worked harder than all of us and deserved the credit as much. I am sure that many would vividly remember many of our teachers during SRP who were practically living in school with the various drills, tests, and extra classes to ensure that we will all do well in SRP. Bapak Mappanggara, Cikgu-cikgu Gazhali Yahya, Fatanah (now Dr), Shaari Sawa, Lee Tong Hai, Mr Leong, (please fill in) and various others were toiling to ensure that we would have a good chance at the grade.

It was one exam after another to prepare us for SRP, and it showed in the results. We are very proud of the fact that with such a dedication, MRSM KB was the best school for SRP 1978, beating the likes of MCKK, Tunku Khursiah and MRSM Seremban and Kuantan. We had 92% scoring A’s in mathematics and 56% in Sains Paduan. To quote Mr Aw (Science Dept Head), “We were overjoyed when the SRP 1978 were announced. Congratulations to Bapak Mappanggara, En Shaari Sawa and En Ghazali Yahya. They really worked hard to achieve such a wonderful result.2” In contrast, the 1979 SRP recorded only 38.7% in A’s for science and 75.3% for mathematics3. We have set the standard and it was difficult for others to follow.

Cikgu Dr Fatanah, for example would give us weekly test on geography. As a result of her dedication, she had to fork out RM91 for ninety one of us who got A’s in SRP. Mind you, that RM1 was so precious to us in 1979. Using am average 6% discount rate yearly, that would mean a good RM326 in 2003. You can never imagine what our teachers have gone through to make sure we would study. And I am quite sure that they would not have grant or ‘entertainment’ allowances that many of us would have today to entertain our clients.

Caption: Cikgu Fatanah was our teacher, warden, coach and mentor to many of us. She was so involved with all of us. She remembered how our hockey team lost the championship by a mere toss of a coin. She remembered many who cried including Nora, but she was proud of them all the same.4

She and Cikgu Wan Tik taught us the world, and we have been able to survived life overseas at such a tender age of 18.

Many of us would remember visiting Bapak Mappanggara’s open house during one Hari Raya. Just imagine how what he and his wife would have to go through to feed around 100 of us hungry students. I believe we went in 2 batches – the boys and the girls went separately. Fortunately the gals still have lots of pictures from that occasion.

We vividly remember his Indonesian kicap manis. I think we bought a bottle from him to make our dewan makan dishes tastier. Until today I am a fan of kicap manis ABC and bangau. You should try it with ayam panggang. Fingers lickin’ good!

If only someone can tell us his whereabouts! Would love to meet up with him again.

Talking about bapak, there were two other bapaks in our MRSMKB’s life. One would be someone who taught us in F1 and F2. Bapak Maryoso left in 1977, and I remember that many were crying at his farewell dinner. He wrote me his Pekalongan, Jawa Tengah address in my diary, but I have lost it. If not, for sure I would have visited him.

Bapak Muljadi may not have taught us, but he was the homeroom adviser for homeroom Perintis. He would also checked on us during prep hours. At one time, there was this kuaci crazed, so there were many kulit kuacis on the floor of the class room during prep hours. He would told us to “kuteep, kuteep! Jangan begitu, dong. Apa kamu nggak bisa masukin kedalam bakul sampah?5” Bless you Bapak for training us to be the civilised person that we are today.

Who would not remember that ‘chapter’ of our Sains Paduan? Many of us would. It was our first encounter of the sexual kind, if you know what I mean. Some of our teachers were kind of embarrassed to teach us about the human reproduction system then. In the Darwin class, the mischievous ones like Birin would often tease (aruah) Cikgu Fadzilah to skip the rest of the books and move on to the ‘chapter’, but when the time came, he was as timid as a mouse.

It was such an anti-climax! By the way, the pun was intentional.

But apparently that was not true with Doris. She persisted with her investigative questions with Mr Koh. He, being this proper Asian gentlemen, wanted to simply gloss over it but the Newton girls were no gentle ladies. Sophie and Fawza asked many embarrassing questions; Mr Koh was red in both cheeks while doing his best to give scientific answers6.

Who would forget about Cikgu Hamizon, our Sejarah teacher from F1. She was so particular about our notes and at the end of the semester would check and rate them. Many love Sejarah back then because of her. Cikgu Sia, cikgu Mathias, Arwah Cikgu Musak Mantrak, Cikgu Hamid Zamburi were the other teachers for Sejarah.

Caption: The teachers of the old days knew how to have fun and we the students have enjoyed their performances over the years at the dewan. I had a hard time trying to retrieve these pictures of them from their personal albums due to the nature of some of the pictures. "Tu gambar zaman jahiliyyah, Rahman," she would tell me. Well, it's just walking down memory lane, Cikgu. It is nice to remember you all by.

Cikgu Nik Faridah was such an amazing English teacher to all of us. Though she mainly taught us in F1, many of us would remember her for life! She was so creative in her teaching method that not many would know that she is an economist by education!7 We had an English week with classes presenting fairy tale plays. Darwin 1 class presented Cinderella with Minee as Cinderella, Zul as her Prince Charming and Aya as one of her step sisters, and Jaghah as her step mum. Gina was playing as a wolf in another play.

What amazes me even to this day is her vivid memory - that she would remember everything that happened in our class like it was yesterday, even when such even had passed me by after 35 years.

Caption: The teachers presented us with Christabelle, a play written by Coleridge. Cikgu Lee Chai Poe was Christabelle, with Ms Sundra as her ‘Prince Charming while Cikgu Nik Faridah, the bard, can be seen with her partially hidden guitar. One can see Liza in the background.

We even have dance show during that week. The Donny and Marie’s song ‘The Morning Side of the Mountain8 was used as the tune for that dance.

Caption: From left: Cikgu Nawi with Cikgu Somchit in Aci Aci Buka Pintu, Cikgu Wan Rosli with Wan Nasihah in Aku Tak Mahu di Madu and The Quartet singing Seroja.

They took pride in their profession and we were all the beneficiary of such a dedication. They touched our lives and I believe we in many ways we had touched theirs. They are so important to all of us.

While we would love to re-tell the stories of our all our teachers, space and time are taking the toll on their inclusion in this souvenir program. Our deepest apology for all other teachers whose stories have not be mentioned. It does not mean you are less important to us.

We can assure you that all of you will forever lived in our minds.

KB76ers salute all of you, our dearest teachers!


1 Originally sung by the lovely Australian singer Colleen Hewett, (1983), before Bette Midler did a cover version and took the song to international fame. It is an apt inclusion to this piece.

2 Science Dept Report, Wadah Vol II 1978/79.

3 SRP 1979 Report, p69 Wadah Vol III 1979/1980

4 During the run-up, Kb76ers visited Cikgu Dr Fatanah at MRSM Jasin during Maal Hijrah 1424 (4 march 2003) and she retold the writer of the story.

5 OK OK I made up the rest of the sentence after kuteep kuteep. Could not help practicing my Indonesian.

6 Nadiyah retold this story to a KB76 yahoo discussion group in 2002

7 We found out this 27 years later during February 2003 trip back to Maktab in the run-up to the Reunion Dinner! She was so good at it, we had never noticed.

8 Cikgu Nik Faridah sang this song while visiting Rosminee Mustapha at KB Hospital on 7 February 2003. It was very nice and thoughtful of her to visit her ex-student! Minee was one of the dancers in that dance. Anyone else remember being in that dance team?


The article was stolen by yours truly from Cherish, a reunion magazine for Batch KB76, the wonderful batch of 1976-1980 at MRSM Kota Bharu, and edited for clarity. The magazine was published in May 2003 and I am sure by now many info are outdated.

It is re-published here without permission! ;-)

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