Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Life Was Hard Then (Its not that much easier now though)

When I was about to end my Dip Esl course in UM in march 84, My friends and I were offered to continue our studies in UKM to do English with 1 semester off. After carefully weighing the fact that I was only earning 600+, am married with a 4 year old daughter and another baby just 2 months away, I decided to decline. On half pay I would be getting about 300+. That's not even enough to see my own self through in UKM.

About 9 years after that at the age of 37, I was getting pretty bored with teaching life and decided to try getting back to the university to get me a degree. I had conditions though. The degree course must be in Penang so that I don't have to uproot. I read a circular of an offer to non-grad teachers to read for a degree in English Language and Literature Studies (ELLS) at USM Penang. Just the kind of opening I needed. I applied and after going through the formality of an interview I was successful. In fact those with Dip Esl were given a year off and we could finish in 3 instead of 4 years. I was jubilant but at the same time afraid. I was wondering if I could do it. In school I was not actually one of those brilliant students. I was only average. Just to digress a bit, my neighbour once told my mother that god would be blind if I could pass my MCE. Well I proved that her god was blind, not mine. That was one fine neighbour, don't you think so?

Then a bombshell dropped, one that required me to rethink the whole matter again. Under the Cabinet Scheme, those who get to further their studies could apply to freeze their housing loan. At most they only pay the interests only. Under SSB, there was not such facility. I wonder whose brilliant idea it was. After doing some serious calculations, considering that I freeze payment on my coop loan and pay subscription and interests only, on half pay I would be getting RM125 per month.

At that time, two of my children were already schooling, one in form 1 and the other in std 3. My wife was not working and I had my car installments of 600+ per month to pay. Look, I could do easy juggling acts but I was and still am surely no magician. There was surely no way I could get a balance sheet out of that kind of shit.

I was lucky when my brother in law offered me and my family a room in his house which is only about 5 minutes away from USM. I could then rent out my house here and use the rentals and what is left of my pay to provide for my family's needs. Rentals in BM were cheap then so that did not come out to much. RM125 plus RM350 rentals to feed 5 people and school 2. In fact the next year, my youngest would be going to std 1. Then there will be the car installments and my own needs as a student.

I decided to sell the car and got some money in hand, not much though, about 6K. I bought myself a used motorcycle for about RM1500. My brother who was was running a canteen in USM offered me a part-time job as a cashier, doing the 5pm to 11pm shift. The pay was not much, but if I tightened my belts, with much hardship, I should be able to get by but there would be lots of sacrifices.

I spent 3 bloody hard years at USM. I had classes in the day time and work 7 days a week at the canteen from 5pm to 11pm leaving me with hardly anytime to study and complete my assignments. About a year before my studies ended, my wife got a part-time job at a factory. She contributed about 400+ and my children were the main beneficiaries to the extra money.

Despite the limited time that I had to study I did quite ok. I passed with a second class upper. There wasn't anyone with 1st class. Only 12 of us got two upper so I could kinda say that I did pretty well.

I am not particularly well off now, but looking back, I wonder how I got through those harrowing years. Would I do it all over again? Well er......

11 comments:

zabs said...

Chegu, you did more than pretty well. You did very very well indeed despite the hardship that you have to endure.

Satu contoh yang baik untuk menjadi perangsang kepada anak2. Tentang yang tidak banyak berbeza tu, Allah tahu apa yang terbaik untuk kita.

Kata Tak Nak said...

Zabs,
Thanx. It was really tough but I think I changed me a bit. I now truly understand what hardship is. Thanks again zabs.

Mat Salo said...

Salam To Chegu NK..

Yes, your nephew will only come to the "loneliness" after the hustle and bustle has died down. But such is Life; Birth, Marriage, Death - your family happened to have experienced in a space of four days! In other words, Life indeed does go on. My Good Wishes to your nephew Chegu..

On another note, I wish your wife a successful recovery. My own missus, at 34, had one of two fallopian tubes removed, but Alhamdullillah we were blessed with a baby girl last year. Invasive surgery always carries some risks, but Insya'Allah everything will be alright. Sometimes kesian kat kaum Hawa nih, occasionally beset by complications caused by their "plumbing" - through no fault of their own, of course But sadly, we men, most of our "diseases" are self-inflicted... *

Mat Salo said...

Salam To Chegu NK..

Yes, your nephew will only come to the "loneliness" after the hustle and bustle has died down. But such is Life; Birth, Marriage, Death - your family happened to have experienced in a space of four days! In other words, Life indeed does go on. My Good Wishes to your nephew Chegu..

On another note, I wish your wife a successful recovery. My own missus, at 34, had one of two fallopian tubes removed, but Alhamdullillah we were blessed with a baby girl last year. Invasive surgery always carries some risks, but Insya'Allah everything will be alright. Sometimes kesian kat kaum Hawa nih, occasionally beset by complications caused by their "plumbing" - through no fault of their own, of course But sadly, we men, most of our "diseases" are self-inflicted...

Raden Galoh said...

indeed...you did well bro. You are somewhat brilliant I think...yelah no need to study pun boleh score flying colours tu.

Well...if we think of the hardship we experienced memang boleh menangis kan? Mak bapak saya selalu ceritakan kepahitan keperitan nak besarkan kami adik beradik...makan nasi dgn garam lah...pinjam beras secupak jiranlah...aduhai... tapi ianya memberi makna yang besar bagi saya tentang erti hardship and hard earned money...

Thank you for sharing bro.

Kata Tak Nak said...

Mat Salo,
I think we men ought to realise how blessed we are that we have wives (I mean 1 each, don't get me wrong here)

I just came back from the hospital I was standing for 4 hours and my feet are killing me. The surgery was a success and she is now back in her ward. She is still drowsy and we we told by the nurse not to disturb her. When I looked at her, I suddenly realised again how much I love her, how thanful I am to her for everything.

Raden,
How could I forget those 3 years in my life. I felt even worse coz my children and my wife had to share my hardship. Now its payback time. I try to give whatever they want but not to the point of spoiling them. Nasib baik tak makan nasi dengan garam tapi kena forgo some luxuries la. Nasib baik time Raya, arwah helped a lot.

zorro said...

ZK, you did it because you had grit. A Towering Malaysian in my books, independent, you did it without "crutches". You family will be proud of you....because you DID IT YOUR WAY. Much cheers and salam to Mrs ZK for walking "crutchless" alongside you.

zorro said...

Am glad Mrs ZK is thru the op. Yes, it is God's way of reminding us not to take our loved ones for granted. Everytime we say to our wife and kids "I love you" it means a lot to them. Others think it very soppy or mundane. I dont. I still do it...and often.

Kata Tak Nak said...

Zorro,
Many thanks bro. I used up all of my life's experience to get through my Literature papers and dug through my reserves of common sense too.

The missus is resting. I will tell her how much I love her the moment we got an intimate moment together.

Ibu said...

kalau tak dipecahkan ruyung
manakan dapat sagunya?

berakit-rakit dahulu
berenang2 kemudian...

I can still vividly remember what my father told me. So long as kita berusaha dengan ikhlas, kerana Allah, untuk jalan yang benar, pasti akan ada ganjarannya. Kalau tidak dalam hayat bapak, akan tumpah ke hayat anak-anak.

Each time balik kampung, bila salam tangan & cium pipi, bapak will without fail hug back & kiss on the head and said, anak bapak, anak bapak. alhamdulillah, balik jenguk bapak.

Oh!oh!ohhh!! Tears are welling up in my eyes....

Kata Tak Nak said...

Ibu,
Saya prepare dengan cara dapatkan reading list dalam sem-break and did my readings during those breaks.

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