Tuesday, February 10, 2009

the blues (re-post)

Originally posted on February 5th, 2009

Editted, because I think even though the blog is not a place to be an English teacher and correcting grammar all the time, it also should not be an excuse to write badly. I was tired that day and didn't really pay attention to the errors as long as I got these off my chest in a flash. Kalau ada salah lagi, lantaklah. Aku letih balik main badminton.

It had been a little bit on the draining side, today. Emotionally.

Maybe it's the time of the month, (in my case that time of the year) or maybe it really was an emotionally draining day. Why do I always let myself get carried away with work? I don't know. I simply love some of the aspects of my job that I feel the need to be very involved with everything that is going on. Sometimes I don't realize what was happening to me, mentally, until I come home and have my 'me' time.

It started out as a normal morning. Lately, I have been a little lazy. Maybe this time, my periods make me feel a little weak and lethargic. They are never the same. Sometimes I have tons of energy, sometimes I get gassy, sometimes I get pre-period diarrhea, sometimes I get the cramps in the most inappropriate places of my anatomy, sometimes it lasted just three days, passing me by like a gentle seabreeze. Sometimes it lasts for 14 days, dripping once or twice a day towards the end; never the same. This time it made me wonder about my capacity to be professional in my job instead of being that DQ I have been trying very hard not to revive in any of the occasions at work.

If anyone bothered, they would know that I do not blame my mistakes and shortcomings to the hormones. Women do have their ups and downs, I do too. I even suspect myself of having a mild bipolar condition for having the highest highs and the lowest lows sometimes. But when it comes to work, I have to take that out of the equation as much as I possibly can, so I will be able to make the most impartial decisions. So they won't blame me for being such a DQ later on. A safety check of sorts.

What happened today was supposed to be not a big deal. It wasn't. But I have been able to avoid the tears for a few years now. But today, I cried at work. Not once, but twice! How embarrassing could I have been???

It started out fine, as I said. I have been a little lazy this year. From the beginning of the year, I won't get out of bed until it is 5.20am. I used to wake up before the alarm goes off at 5.00am. I am losing that energy it seems this year. But I am happy to assure you that I have not been late not even once this year. Come to think of it, even throughout the whole of last year. Wow... I am gonna give myself a pat on the back. I have been a chronic late-comer the year before. Reaching school just before the bell rang. I wake up early, but I always get out of the house later than I should. Last year, I realized that being a role-model, I should be a good one. And there is no excuse for me to be late, because there is no traffic jam anywhere in town, and all I have to do is make sure I leave the house at 6.10am. Having young people in your charge does make a person more responsible, I would like to think, therefore, I have never been late again, not even when I slept through the alarm and woke up at the sound of the garbage truck at 5.45am. I showered and even had light make up on before getting into the car at 5 minutes later than usual.

I ramble a lot when I am free-writing, don't I?

Got to school. Punched in... or scanned my fingerprint. Went to my office. It is always alive with activities because the prefects use my office for the PA system in the morning and the head prefect is usually the first one to get there and she has a key. *Gasp!* Well, she is such an able and trustworthy young adult that I would even trust my life with her. Maybe one day I will put her photo up in here. She deserves a spot.

After the morning Negaraku and the daily Dua, I went to have my breakfast at the school canteen as usual. That is the only time I have in the day before it gets really crazy until it is time to leave. It is also the best time for me to mingle with the other teachers who are also free at that particular time of the morning, because my work later will keep me mostly to myself and to the kids and keep me away from them, making me seem distant and in no need of interactions with my co-workers. Then I went back to the office to do some paper work and marked some books and also updated the students' data systems on the desktop.

Then, I went to class; my wonderful 5 Sastera 2 class, whose faces and cheerful and genuine smiles warm my heart. I know they had been little monkeys the year before but all they needed was discipline and structure. Well, all the kids are nice, obedient and good when they are around me. So I rely heavily on the other teachers to keep me updated on who and what they are really capable of in terms of behavior from simple mischief to downright misdemeanor.

It was a nice grammar lesson. I never push them to do more than they can do only to get mad at them later for not being able to complete the task. I will try to kick it up a notch as we progress though. Then it was recess.

At the end of recess, a group of form 2 boys came to my office bringing with them another boy covered in blood. He had a two-inch long cut on the right eyelid, right below the brow. Blood was all over the left side of his face and some dotted his clean white shirt. That boy, a few days earlier, was brought to school by his dad after he received a letter from the school for his sons' absenteeism. His father had asked me to tell him that his dad is gonna be thrown in jail if he doesn't go to school. I assured him that I will tell his boy that and much more and asked him to leave his son with me. I told him everything (that I think a 14 -year-old should) he should know about life and then some. And threw in the jail thing from his dad. I am glad that although he has a tough-looking face, he is such a trusting little boy.

Today, he had been playing in the classroom with a classmate during recess. The rule is, no one should be in the classroom during recess, so there was definitely no playing in the classroom during that time. But it happened anyway. I don't exactly know what happened. But he told me, while they were playing, he was pushed to the wall, and got the cut. It was so close, I am thankful it did not hurt his eye.

Another girl had asked if she could go home because she had been having a throbbing headache since Tuesday. I scolded her for keeping such things to herself for so long. I told her I will not let her go home. Instead I will take her to the village clinic, and then will let her go home if her condition grants her the day off from the MA. I already had my car key in my hand when they took the boy in. I padded his bleeding brow with some tissue paper and took him along.

At the clinic, we went straight in. The MA, being a girly man, was shocked to see him in that state and whispered to me that he will have to stitch that shut. He told the boy to go rest while he attended to the girl. I accompanied the boy in the treatment room right next door and tried to comfort him a little.

He was not disoriented. More like embarrassed to have all that blood all over him. I assured him that everything was gonna be okay and it is normal to have so much blood when one bleeds from a head injury. He didn't want the tetanus shot, let alone the local anesthetics later on. And the stitching that would ensue.

The MA said he doesn't have to stitch it up if the boy doesn't want it. But I do think he needed the cut to be closed because it was gaping and a little too deep to heal quickly on its own. I tried calming the boy down because he started panicking when he saw the tetanus needle looming close. "Come, hold my hand and look at me. Trust me, it will hurt a little bit, but it won't kill you," I said. He moved from side to side in the bed trying to dodge the needle when it got to his upper arm. The attending nurse was worried that he might struggle when the needle was in and break it. That would be a big mess. I squeezed his hands and made him look at me. And then I told him, "Cikgu pun pernah kena jahit dulu kat kepala ni, janganlah takut sangat..., k?"

It was a lie. But he looked at me and calmed down. Then he squeezed my hand and closed his eyes and let the MA give him the tetanus shot.

"Sakit jua', sikit-sikitlah."

Then the MA placed a piece of paper with a hole above his wound. He was going to administer the local anesthetic. That paper alone freaked him out again. Again, I had to embellish my little white lie, "Luka kamu ni kalau tak jahit nanti tak hensem la dah baik nanti. Kepala cikgu ni dulu kan, kena paku masa lari-lari bawah rumah, koyak dekat sejengkal, tau? Masa tu cikgu baru 12 tahun. Kena jahit jua', ok je tau? Kamu kan 'rock'... Orang 'rock' mana boleh macam ni, kan?"

At last he calmed down again, "Inda sakit kah, chegu'?"
"Sakitlah sikit masa ia cucuk kasi bius atu, tapi lepas atu nda sakit lagi bah..."
"Iyakah, chegu?"
"Awu, inda percayakah, cakap chegu'? Chegu' selalu menipu kitak kah di sekulah ah?"
"Bah pigang tangan chegu' kuat-kuat, rileks sikit bah. Jangan takut, chegu' tunggu sampai ia habis jahit, ah?"
"Banarkah inda sakit chegu?"
"Sakit, tapi sikit jak... Inda pulang mati. Tapi kalau inda dijahit, nanti lambat baik, inda hensem lagi pulang tu! Mau kitak kah?"

The MA covered his right eye with the paper again and I saw how the needle went in and out just like you cucuk daun pisang bungkus lepat tu dengan lidi tajam.... and how the liquid squirted out of the open holes made by the needle. I know it will heal, but it freaked me out, man! I am not the squeamish type, but it's one thing watching a graphic demo of a surgical operation where the doctor seems like melapah daging korban on TV, but watching it happening right in front of your eyes is a totally different thing. Then we waited a few minutes for the LA to work and then came the stitching. Again, he had second thoughts.

"Inda sakit bah, inda berasa lagi tuk..."
"Banar... "

He held both my hands in both of his and we started talking about why exactly he didn't go to school those times. I watched the MA cucuk his wound with a huge ass needle and I listened to him telling me about going out to sea with his dad to fish and getting money for it. I asked him what he did with the money, he said he saved it. How much do you have now? Hundreds? Nah... Tapi berpuluh jua'lah.... Not bad. (Dalam hati, aku nak menangis, sebab I realized how gigih and cermat he is) But I don't want you to be just a fisherman when you grow up. You should do something more, something better. I'm sure your mom and dad want you to have more than they did in life, so you have to work hard for it. I know, but it's hard, chegu'. I know, dear, but no one ever said anything about life being easy.

All the while, aku sendiri nak pengsan tengok jarum jahitan tu kuar masuk daging kening budak tu. Lutut aku rasa lembik sikit. Tapi him trusting me gave me strength as much as me being there made him brave.

For some reason, at that moment, I tought about wanting my own kids. To have little hands to hold and be brave for and give strength to. A bad time to think about having kids. One should not gauge one's ability to raise children simply based on a day at the clinic with someone else's child.

He had six stitches.

Then the MA gave him some paracetamol as painkillers and antibiotics. Then I took him back to school to get his stuff, because now I have to take him home and personally meet with his parents and explain things to them. I told him to get his stuff from class and be back at my office in 5 minutes.

But in my office, the girl from hell was there with her dad. I'm sorry. I don't mean to label her that way, but compared to the students in my school, she is a full-blown ... I don't want to say the word. But you can guess. She moved to Miri when she was in form 1. Now she is in form 3 and had mixed with the wrong crowd in the city school and now her parents could only see us as the last resort before admitting her to a correctional school which calls for a court order. And another parent was also there, wanting to inform me that his son got the 'kudis buta' again and had been to the hospital for treatment and won't be able to come to school until the abcess that had been impairing his ability to walk, heals. I talked with him for a while and assured him that I will inform the class teacher about it and he can take as much time he needs to get better and was ready to move on to seeing the girl's dad when a student came running to my office and panting, told me that CLI was having fainting spells at the lab. I excused myself and ran to the lab. I saw CLI walking slowly towards me and I went and supported her and took her to my car. The boy was already there and I told a girl who was following me to get my handbag and car key from my office. I sent her home. CLI called in sick the day before. Why did she have to come to work if she didn't feel okay? She's probably like me, feel guilty as I rest every time I call in sick. I dropped her off at her place which was only a moment's drive from school and went straight to the boy's kampung with the boy in tow which was located about 10 minutes from school.

We got there, I parked my car at the lot and we took the boat across the estuary to his house. I met with his parents who were home at the time and explained what happened to them and apologized for the incident. They were very nice, gracious people. And they know me. They all know me, I hope so they know the people at the school are really doing our best, despite the fact.

"Apa dibuatnya chegu'?"
"Kanak-kanak ani' di sekulah, beribun bah. Berlabih pulang."
"Sangka ku ia bergaduh chegu'. Kalau bergaduh, kan ku tambah lagi..."
"Inda bah. Banar, beribun jak tapi lepas atu, berlabih. Anak kampung ani jua lawannya, tapi biar ku jumpa ia di sekulah dulu. Jangan tah kitak marahi ia lagi."

Aku suka la cakap macam orang Brunei. Walaupun tak sama... at least I am trying la kan...? Uhuhu...

I only had a few minutes to chat, because the other parent was still waiting for me in my office.

Still, on the way out another parent came by and enquired about scholarship and hostel allocations. Always tough issues to explain and the boat couldn't have come sooner. I did the best explaining to them and excused myself because I really had to rush back.

I climbed down the ladder into the boat and as we were going back to the other side, the boat guy asked me about school finances. I told him it is best that he talk to the principal about the matter because what I know is insufficient to answer his questions.

Back at school, I spent about half an hour with that parent. I could see it in his face, and in his body language that he is a gentle-hearted father who is at the end of his ropes. That was when he told me that he was thinking about moving her to a correctional school but that would require a court order. I realized what a daunting task lie ahead of me if I decide to take on the challenge. I do not want to make the same mistake I did with H@fifi. I regret it to this day. So I said what I could, in place of the principal who was away in Sibu for a meeting with the Director, and my PK1, who was away in Limbang for another meeting in place of the principal. I said, it is a big job, and I won't promise you anything because as a teacher, I know I am not a miracle worker, because change will only happen when one is ready to do so, and not because of what I do and say to her. Her father just nodded and assured me that he understood and accepted that fact.

But since she had broken the hostel rules, she will not be permitted back into the hostel, unless she shows some kind of improvement in attitude in the next couple of months. I can't take her back as much as her dad needs me to because that decision will kill my wardens. She has proven herself to be a handful from day one. Besides, we had been reserving places for more deserving people and there is still a long qeueu.

With her father there, I talked a little bit to her, but when she played with a strand of fallen hair, I took it out of her hand and asked her to look at me. She refused, so I took her hand in mine and refused to let go as she tried jerking it away. I finally let go when she started crying and looking at me with such hatred and anger. She stood up and stormed out of my office, slammed her fist on the open door. Her father apologized for her behavior. But I told him, it's okay. One of my older brother was exactly like her.

He is planning to move back to Lawas in April so he thought moving her to this school would be a fresh start for her. I am sad to say that she had not been the easiest person to deal with these past month. But he's been expecting that, I guess, because he agreed with me totally. His demeanor was total trust. I could see him close to giving up on her. But I know he won't, because parents, no matter how close they feel to the edge, never takes that jump when it comes to their children.

After her left, I went to the school library, right next to my office. After they left, I suddenly felt something dark and heavy looming over my whole being. I needed a distraction. I started talking to Hsnh, who is the library teacher and she was there rearranging some magazines. But out of the blue, I started sobbing. Right in the middle of a sentence! It was so silly of me and embarrassing too. No one had seen me cry for years and I broke that record today.

Madie came looking for me as I was trying to regain control of my sobs. Earlier in the morning, he had asked me to sign some documents in place of the principal and the PK1. I returned to my office and found the thick documents all neatly clipped together on the pile of papers I had left when the boys came running to see me with the bleeding boy. He stood by my desk, fixing my rubber stamp, reinking the self-inking pad and making trial stamps on a discarded phone bill envelope to make sure there was not too much ink on the pad that would blotch up the documents, (or he'll have to re-do them) while I cried huge tears and sobbing non-stop. Great big sobs as I signed pages and pages of documents, trying hard to make out what I was signing in between the tears. Was I glad I had that plastic coating mascara on, or it I would have looked like a harlequin with wet mascara trickling down my cheeks.

Tried stopping. I did stop. But I started crying again and again each time I stopped. He probably could see my embarrassment, so he excused himself promising to come back in a little while to get the papers. Then Mrln stopped by and saw my red nose and puffy eyes. I had already stopped sufficiently to dry my cheeks and tried breathing in between residual sobs.

I was a mess. But it felt like a release of some sort. But it was strange because I was not feeling stressed out at all. Mrln was waiting to go to her class upstairs so she stayed a while and we talked for a little while. I was calm again when it was time for my last class of the day before school was over.

When class was over, it was time for a meeting with the Lemb@g@ Hit@m Berbulu Leb@t. Eh, no, silap. Lemb@g@ Disiplin. I called the meeting over the PA system. We all gathered in the PS. Everyone talked and had their say. Then as I was in the middle on my say, it happened again.

Great huge, heaving sobs that choked me. Attractive... very attractive.


I know I freaked them out seeing me like that. But it just overwhelmed me to see how committed to their jobs in the committee this year.

I can't help feeling so very grateful after having been left to fend for myself last year after the fiasco with the Kelantanese lunatic bitch. Yes, I have been burned by her big time, I had to say that she is from Kelantan. I am sure the rest of the Kelantan people are very normal, law abiding and great contributors to the society. She just happens to be all that, just a little on the lunatic side. And she hides it well, because I am the only one who knows about that side of her. Anyway, she won, simply because I am the barbaric fat bitch, and she is the little ustazah. Who would you save when the boat is sinking?

I am just glad that things are looking up this year. And it was probably my hormones wreaking havoc in my system. It took me a few seconds to compose myself. The meeting lasted a few more minutes before we adjourned.

I needed to get home. Mrln and Lnd already left with Hnr earlier. The counsellor asked if she could hitch a ride with me home. So with her in tow, I sped off back to town, overtaking all the other teachers who left before I did. Dropped her off at her place and went to the clinic to get some calamine lotion because I have been having some itchy red spots on my thighs and I have no idea where they come from.

Came home, showered and slapped on the lotion all over my legs and fell asleep as it was drying.

I am gonna have some problem sleeping tonight, because I slept for two and a half hours straight. It was awesome!

I'm sure what happened to me today happens to everyone in this field. But this is my personal experience. I want to be reminded of these moments when I lose focus of why I love this job so much and feel useless during my low lows. I hope nothing I write in here will get me into trouble with anyone. If you feel that I might, please tell me.

Long and winding, I know. But I never said, Please Read, did I? But thanks for reading anyway. Me luve you long taim....!!!



Anillynnette said...

Anonymous Charon said...

So brave, so busy, so tired.

February 7, 2009 2:00 PM
Blogger Anillynnette said...

So long...!

February 7, 2009 7:05 PM
Blogger Johana Johari said...

I am glad that u are still a teacher... i miss myself being a teacher but never regret of what i'm doing rite now. yang penting, lillahi Ta'ala

February 8, 2009 1:21 AM

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