I showed up at MTS Bustanul Arifin , Tumpat ,on 3rd January 2010 with mixed feelings; unsure of everything around me. I drove down there unfocused with my mind wandering and floating about no where. The transfer letter I received in mid December 2009, in the middle of my holidays, had taken me aback and it was a nightmare. I couldn’t believe it ! I recalled how I dedicated my entire life and career in a place called Amir Indera for twenty eight long years. Never had I imagined to end my career as a teacher elsewhere. Immediately after I was informed about the transfer letter, I flew back home and I drove down to Amir to collect it that very morning. . I took the warrant and sped away speechless. That was the last day I saw Amir Indera Petra and would never wish to step on her grounds ever! The only thing on my mind was to pay a visit to the new school in Kampung Berangan, Tumpat. I used to travel a lot along the road to Tumpat, a small boarder town to the north thus, locating the school was not a problem.
I took the right turn once I saw the school signboard., taking a narrow road which was lined up by village houses on both sides. I heard about its establishment years ago and I was rather curious to see what this place was like. Once I reached the premise , my first impression of the school scared me a lot. There was only a three storey-building which I supposed to be the classrooms. A few other blocks of buildings were scattered around the area. No green fields and it looked like there was no other exit once you got into the compound, except through the main entrance that you came through. The portraits of holy ancient images, with the serban and long beards, were clearly visible on the walls of the school building and the whole surrounding seemed sacred. It was the year-end school break and the place looked more distant ,quiet and uninhabited. I braved myself to ask a few questions and found that there were a few hundreds male students and a bunch of teachers majority of them were of course males too. However there were also lady teachers. After a few brief glances, I left the place feeling so tiny and rejected. “ This is wrong…. a mistake. I’m not the right person here!”. I admitted while comforting myself that there should be some way out.
For a start I tried to get in touch with the former MTS teacher, who was coincidentally being transferred to a further distance from his residence, in case he might be interested in negotiating with our superiors at YIK, to reconsider our transfers, and that we have both agreed mutually to exchange schools respectively. I didn’t mind travelling long distances to and fro daily coz I was already used to it. Fortunately, it turned out to be a mere waste of time. He was enthusiastic at first , however he turned down my offer unexplained and unreachable. I stood there speechless, waiting anxiously for him to show up at the appointed small café for further discussions, nevertheless there was not even the glimpse of his shadows appeared. Tired of waiting, I sped off home with an annoyed mind and totally disappointed. What an unreliable human!
A couple of days later I tried my luck and made an appointment with the officer in charge at YIK myself to brief out my reasons personally for declining the order. I frankly confessed to them that I was not a proper person to work at a Tahfiz environment and added that my service as an English language teacher was more needed in a normal Arabic school. As predicted, nobody would take a heed. As they say, no matter how loud the wind howls, the mountains will never bow. So, I had to face the fact that I had to obey to the procedure. Reluctantly I presented myself officially at the school, Maahad Tahfiz Sains Bustanul Arifin, an alien to me, on 3rd January 2010.
For the first few weeks at my new ambience, every seconds of each day, I felt so lost , distant and abandoned. Everything was blurred. There seemed to be no other interesting activities besides the usual school routines. I missed the gatherings and the ‘round-table conferences’ at the canteen table in Amir. All the laughter and jokes with them where I happened to be the centre of attractions with my stories, jokes and comments of issues. I am a happy-go-lucky, cheerful, jovial type of person. I could not stand the feelings of emptiness around me. I prefer to be among the crowd. Over here there are only five of my kind including me. It came into my senses that I was thrown into an unpopulated part of the world. Only loneliness surrounded me. Everything looked gloomy and unexciting to watch except for the occasional deafening sounds of the train passing by the railway just a few yards away from the school which was a new experience to me instead. It never crossed my mind that I would turn into a sorrowing, remote woman in the end of my days. There was nobody familiar to me at Bustanul Arifin, except for a long known friend. However we have been separated for ages, and I could not dare to share this difficult unexplainable confusions spinning in my head. I couldn’t dare to admit that I do not favour this kind of environment and reveal my ignorance.
Back home, I own no one to seek help or a shoulder to cry on, except for my two teenage daughters who happen to be too young to understand why their mother was in such a great despair. The other three children of mine are married and faraway and I wish so much not to bother them with my ridiculous problems yet. However I could not help picking up the phone to share my grief with one of my closest, good listener daughter. I myself could not understand what has happened to me either? Why such a fuss over a small matter? I felt hopeless and betrayed. I despised the one who has brought me into this condition. Friends from Amir called up to convey their words of sympathy which made things worse. I could not help shedding big tears and sobs every night and day whenever any one of them rang the bell. Not that I totally missed them, but rather the anger and dissatisfaction. I have been having sleepless nights thinking and interrogating myself.
I had concluded that my transfer has something to do with my former principal. He must have misjudged me. He could have thought that by getting rid of me things would be better off for him there. All the comments and suggestions I once made during meetings were for the betterment and on behalf of the school but he could have taken them as threats. The truth was, I took it as my responsibility as I was one of the most senior there and it was a pure sincerity at heart. He seemed to be a good listener and at times did have serious discussions with me on certain things. How could he be so revengeful coz I meant no harm to him at all. Everybody around him at Amir was willing to work with him including me. Not to say that I was blowing my own trumpet but the reality was Amir Indera was on the brink of declination in every aspects. I took him as responsible for banishing me. He put me into exile unprofessionally. I just disappeared into the thin air unnoticed. Is this the right way to dismiss someone who have been servicing the school for more than twenty years?
A few weeks later, I was informed that there had been some open misunderstandings between the principal and a bunch of Amir teachers who backed me up. A memorandum signed by a list of representatives was flown to YIK questioning his attitude and credibility as a principal. So it proved that by discharging me alone would not make things comfortable for him either. It is frustrating to know the attitude of some of our leaders at YIK who could not accept critics, challenges, reforms or pressures, thus taking shortcuts to simplify things. They took for granted in most of their matters.
Weeping and feeling sorry was the only way I knew then. Only God knows my real intentions towards the school and my principal. It was so hurt and a painful experience to accept the fact that I was no longer needed there, in Amir Indera. I slept with my tears pouring down my cheeks like torrent rains. I tried to be reasonable and rational to myself that I would not have to travel far to school anymore, I do not have to cross the bridge as early as 6.30 in the morning to reach school on time anymore. “So what is the big problem then?” I questioned myself continuously. However. the feelings of being rejected and degraded made the silver lining over the clouds unseen to me. My ego and the anger were much too stronger to neutralize me. The only thing I did not forget was the countless prayers that I seek from Allah SWT to show me the message behind all these miseries. Let the truth reveals. Slowly I began to miss the comfort of someone very dear to me. Things would not be so torturing for me if he was around. At least I had someone to share my grief with. I had to lick my own wounds again for the second time, before the last deep cut healed. All these agonies made me miss him even more. Alfatihah.
Days became weeks, and weeks turned into months, gradually I gathered the strength to adjust myself to the new atmosphere. As usual I do not have problems getting along with the students as well as anybody around me anywhere I go. Everybody here looked so solemn and holy to my eyes, especially the students with their white long jubah and kopiah. On the other hand, I saluted them for their ability to memorize the versus of the Holy Quraan. They were well-trained in the islamic ways of life. As they were selected brilliant students, I had to adopt new approaches in my teachings too. Previously, I was hard with my words when dealing with my students. On contrary, I dare not treat these kind of species here the way I used to. I found teaching them quite interesting though occasionally I caught hold of a bunch of them who dozed off in the middle of my lessons . It upset me at first but later I was used to it. I became more apologetic with these boys which I myself was amazed with the sudden change in my mood. Only then I wonder this could be one of the blessings in disguised from Allah SWT for my hijrah over here. I became more patient, committed and passionate. “Possibly I was destined to be here by the Almighty” I admitted in my prayers. I recalled those were the words my ustazah friends from Amir used to console me with, when they knew I was so upset with the sudden change.
Unexpectedly , I saw things differently one fine morning. I found something special in MTST that helped me hang on there and had greatly cheered me up to this moment. It happened during the school assembly. The day when the school officially appointed the school prefects. An innocent good looking boy was called up to the front for a ‘serban’ wearing demonstration. The moment I set eyes on him, he attracted my attention. I found him interesting in a way I could not explain. Firstly, it could be the father’s name that was familiar to me. I wondered if it was the same famous figure I knew. All of a sudden, he reminded me of my only son whom I never had the chance to grow him up myself . How I wish to have a son like this particular boy. If I were given the second chance to experience those moments , I would really love to treat this one as my own. My interest to know him closer grew deeper. He had stolen my heart and affection. Later I came to know that he was a form three student and the opportunity spread wide for me to get acquainted with him because I would be his English language teacher. I felt motivated and inspired to be where I was and that I had the reasons to stay. At least.
I was told that he was one of them who has successfully recited and memorized the 30 juzuk Holy Quraan. May God bless him ! I admired him for that, too. He’s neat and tidy, always in full school uniform, attentive, polite and obedient. A sweet, handsome, well-mannered boy, wearing glasses that makes him look even more intelligent. The head boy of the school, but quite a shy person, very cautious, rich in smiles and possess an entertaining laughter too. I found it quite seldom knocking into him running up or down the school stairs like the others do. It was only during my English lessons that I had the chance to speak to him more closely. “What a wonderful boy…” I always thought to myself whenever I saw the glimpse of him among the crowd.
Eventually, I began to know him better. I came to learn that he was among the potentially “A” students of the school. I was right. He is the son of a popular person I know, so it is crystal clear that he is not an ordinary kampong boy. He is well-bred and taken care of, a very fortunate boy who is born with a silver spoon and an apple to the family’s eyes, too. Unfortunately our time together in MTST is short. He will be leaving Bustanul Arifin at the end of the year to continue his upper levels some where else and I am going to miss him so much. The day will come for us to say goodbye. So, before he leaves me and the school, I’d like to share some wonderful moments with him during the last few months together. All the events and moments I planned while he was here were dedications from me to him. Hopefully he and his buddies in Tahfiz Berangan would cherish those few occasions and recall me long after I am gone. I wonder if it is true what they say; absence makes the heart grows fonder. Hopefully they will never forget to offer me with a piece of Alfatihah when the last syllable of my recorded time comes.