In the Name of Education by Z Junaidi

One of the first thing that intrigued me when I read the entry on Monday 23rd October 2006, was not the Hari Raya the blogger had spent all his life, but rather the loneliness he had to endure all the while. All - in the name of education. I had a rather similar upbringing. I ‘left’ my KB home before my 12th birthday to live and being educated in the so-called Science School. It was 1979. We were the second intake of students who had been selected to go to such a priviledged school.

I’m not too sure if it creates the same kind of feelings to parents nowadays as compared to those in the late 70s and early 80s. This was simply because ‘good schools’ were rare then. Today, some of the best echelon of A-students come from several schools around the country, eliminating the Science School as the (only) top school to go to. But no doubt in my mind, the Science School will still continue to churn out future leaders of Brunei.

It was interesting to note that another previous entry noted the cancellation of the Singapore programme for top PCE Brunei student back in the 1960s to 1980s in 1984 – some six years after the creation of the Science School in 1978. I wonder the wisdom of doing so - since that particular programme did produce some of our top senior civil servants till today – although the process will definitely involve sending young Bruneians away from home. The point was that some of us left home so early in life, that it makes you wonder if that is the way to be – as if being away from our parents is a good enough substitute for having a supposedly excellent education away from home – be it in Brunei, Singapore or the likes of the Sultan Idris Training College, Tanjong Malim or the STAR, Ipoh.

I was virtually away from home since the age of 12 till 24 or so when I graduated – except of course for the school/ university hols. It dawned to me sometimes, when I do come back to my parents’ home in those days, I was fairly ‘invisible’ to them to some extend. This means that in practice they do sometimes forget your presence at home or even simply to call you to join the family lunch. I don’t blame them. I do accept over the years that it was an outright consequence of being away from home for such a long time.

So, what do you all in a similar situation and background do in later years? For me, I was determined to do the ‘catching up’ for all those years to my very best. This means going back to my parents’ house virtually every weekend. It’s some sort of ‘revenge’ if you like. By then, married life made it even complicated. You have to be seen to cover your in-laws’ side as well, meaning doing the rounds not only to your parents’ house but also to the in-laws. No son in-law would like to be seen as unfair.

Even then, I did eventually found out that the missing childhood and teenage era was no substitute for the days spent with your Mom or Dad when you are already an adult. By then, your adulthood was shaped by all those experiences – bitter and good ones, including the feeling of home-sickness bundled up in a cocoon of intricacies, spreading through the already empty heart. Unlike the fresh and na├»ve childhood, supposedly ready to be shaped by our parents. That’s what parents are there for. It was like a missing gap in the middle, from the the time you were born till the time you started working.

I guess if they have a choice, they won’t even consider sending their children away in the first place. I sometimes wonder if parents do get lonely at times without having one of their children around.

But I take great ‘comfort’ and feelings of being spared somehow – if you were to compare to those who were orphaned early in their life. Our Prophet Muhammad was one. For these very reasons, I had some soft spots on orphans (and the needy). I sometime wonder if they do understand the implications of the notion of parents not being there for you especially when you need them so much. I guessed it did’t occur to them in the first place because simply they don’t get round to understand the significant of having to live together with Mom and Dad.

That said, I reckoned that’s what numbed my heart all those lonely years away from home – a set of mentality, if you like, to ‘soften’ the blow of not being able to live at home as many others naturally do.

Well, what now? I guess, for those who had not done the catching up, will do so during this Hari Raya – if you lucky enough to have your parent(s) still around. Whatever it is - if you happened to be married and have children - the presence of grandchildren will surely make the day for those lonely grandparents. Simply put, a good way of covering up those lost years.
Today's entry is contributed by Z Junaidi, who has contributed many ideas on what topics for me to write. However today, instead of contributing ideas, he has decided to write his own entry.


DocMamau said…
I gotta say, this entry had touched me in some level.

I was away for about 10 years and been only back for good last year. My sisters and brothers are all grown up... i mean, i did go back now and then for my hols back then.. there were moments when they kinda reminisced about some incidents that i didnt know as i wasnt there.. this is an example of why it sucks to be living away.. i mean, they do try to explain why and how it was funny etc but make myself feel better,i just said to them, "Inda jua cali tu..." heheheh...spiteful isnt it?

Also, i feel that my parents r still treating me like how i was when I first left Brunei.I leftwhen i was 18... 10 years later, they r still treating me like an 18 years old girl. Maybe its because they werent there in the process of me 'growing up'.

But the perks of being away for so long and now back for good are plenty as well... Just mention a word, say.. "Satay..."and voila... i will be eating satay the next meal time... Mayb they r trying to make up for the lost times as well.
Anonymous said…
Hello all,
Yeah, I can relate to both the blog entry and the first comment. Had been away from home from the age of 12 to attend Maktab Sains and spent another 6 years overseas.
I only got to spend time at home during weekends and school holidays, even worse while I was overseas.
Yeah, I am still treated as if I am still a teenager. I could not go out without having my mum calling. At times, I was embarrased when my friends teased me about it. But deep in my heart I know it was all for the good reasons.
And yeah, it's true being away for that long, every wish is their command. Just mention something, and there you see the next time.
Anyway, now I try to catch up on the lost years. Yeah, tho I am much older now, but sometimes nothing beats the feeling of around the family.

Anyway, I hope I can plug this... Have you seen the Petronas Hari Raya TV greetings? It never failed to make my eyes moist every time I see it. It is nice to watch, but there is a hidden meaning behind it. As the Malays would say it, ambil iktibar dari nya.
Anonymous said…
And yeah, forgot to say this, but when I entred Maktab Sains in 1990, I still remember that my parents were proud. There was still some sense of pride. Not too sure if it is a good idea to have one in every district like they have at the moment. I think they should just keep one Maktab Sains but make the entry requirement more stringent and if they need to make the kids go through an entry exam.
The former Maktab Sains (the one before they decided not to accept students outside Brunei/Muara and Temburong) have undoubtedly produced current and future leaders in Brunei. Let the tradition resumes.

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