as logged by Wei Teen
After a hectic week of learning and teaching, the long awaited weekend finally came. However, this Saturday wasn’t as sweet as a date for us and the Primary 6 children in SK Temuno Teringai. Why? Because we had no other options but to stay in school to face the upcoming extra class on a cosy Saturday morning which I would have probably slept in if I was still back at home.
Oh great, the hateful extra classes again.
That was my first thought when I realised that additional English and Maths classes were scheduled for the morning from 8am-12pm. Yes, 8am early in the morning. On a Saturday. Solely for the standard 6 kids.
To be honest, a glance through their fully packed timetable brought me back down memory lane. Back to the days where I used to call them the ‘Sardine Tin Saturdays’, which I wouldn’t even have a second to exchange my breathe. Memories about having hours after hours of boring extra classes flood back into my mind, and I didn’t want to see these bubbly kids having to experience what I have gone through. I felt really pitiful to have the year 6 borders retained in school for the weekend, and the more I thought about it, the deeper my heart sank.
But, those were just my thoughts. AND I WAS WRONG about these children’s opinion about having extra lessons. Out of my expectation, the kids were so eager to learn, and they seemed to be more than happy to have classes with us. Little did I know that to them, extra class means knowledge time that they receive as rare as diamond! Why couldn’t I be like them when I was their age? I thought. That passion about learning is definitely something that I have never seen in a city kid of their age!
Every single time when I asked my assigned kids – Azrinchuil and Feridolen whether they would like to have homework from me, they would surely reply me with a fixed answer: ‘MAU!’, along with a wide smile on their faces. Despite the fact that the homework that I was about to give was on English and Maths – which would be the subjects that I fear most if I were in their position, they were still willing to get more homework. My ice cold heart melts every single time I see and hear their replies. I love having conversations with them. They are just too adorable to be true, and their positive attractions are so strong that I can still feel them with me right now at this second, with an image of their faces fading into my vision although I’m already across the ocean.
But having lessons at 8 o’clock in the morning just seemed a little too early for us humans from the urban areas. So, one of my project ventures decided to ask for the time they usually wake from bed on weekends.
To our surprise, what the kid replied was: ‘Biasanya kami perlu bangun awal pada pukul 5.30. Tapi, kami bangun lewat sikit pada hujung minggu. 7.30 pagi baru bangun.’
Haaa. So 7.30a.m. is considered late for them to get themselves ready for the day in Kampung Teringai. No wonder they were all fine to have tuition at 8.00a.m.! Seriously, I couldn’t even remember when was the last time I woke up at 7.30 on a weekend. It really is time for me to face the wall of shame. I told myself.
After lunch, the Headmaster, Cikgu Larry and other teachers came back to school on purpose to bring us for sightseeing at the Teringai Beach. They said that the Teringai Beach is a must go place if you ever come to Teringai.
Unfortunately, the kids were not allowed to join us at the beach as the school had not collected their parent’s written consent beforehand. Having no authority in making any decisions on this matter, we had no choice but to follow the school’s original plan for us. The team was divided to take two different 4 wheel-drive. Me, Jiale, Xin Tian, and Sean climbed onto the back of the first Hilux, while the rest went on the second vehicle tailing behind us. So there we go, off to the beach. Our car sped on the bumpy and sandy kampung road, creating inertias strong enough to make us scream as though we were taking a roller coaster ride, while causing sand to trail behind us throughout the whole journey.
It was a windy day. Very very windy. The wind was so strong that it kept blowing my hair off my face. Then suddenly, Poof! There went my cap flying away from my head with a gust of wind without saying goodbye to me. It made a little dance in the air and landed safely at the side of the road near the bushes. But the vehicle that I was on still kept going at its original pace, creating distance between me and my dearest cap. Soon after, I could no longer see my cap, nor could I see the other Hilux with the other half of our teammates on board. Strange, wasn’t it? The other car was just behind us a minute ago, but they were out of sight already after a blink of an eye. Was our driver speeding that fast on a road like this? Or the other car was just genuinely trying to avoid the flying sand created by us? We didn’t know the answer to that.
It took us some time before the other Hilux could catch up with us at the beach. Britney came running towards me once she got down from the car. ‘Do you know what happened just now?’, she asked mysteriously. ‘Nope,’ I answered. ‘That Shafiq jumped down from the Hilux to save your cap. He said that he should be able to make it and jumped off the car without a warning which gave us a shock of our lives! The car stopped immediately after to make sure that he was fine. So that’s why we were way behind you! Here’s your cap,’ said Britney while taking my cap out of her bag. My, my! Goodness me! My heart skipped a beat even by listening to her story. I nearly got a heart attack!
Thank you Shafiq for picking up my cap, but please do not do something like that again alright?
We had lots of fun at the beach while battling the strong, sandy wind. Every gale of wind came along with a layer of sand coating our skin. So at the end of the day, we came to a conclusion that today might be the best day for us to join the kids for a shower at the river! (The kids in SK Temuno Teringai shower in a river behind the school compound every evening)
Yes, that was my first time showering in a river. It was totally a whole new experience. The girls first changed into their sarong, then started washing their clothes in the river. Me and a few other colleagues did not have the guts to enter the river initially as we were having our week of the month. But hey, we were there to experience, weren’t we? Slowly, we took small steps into deeper parts of the river, with the water level reaching our waists. As we were focusing on our footsteps, here came the whole gang of kids splashing water at us. Being humans, our first reaction was to splash them back with water! So, a fun and exciting water fight began in the little stream of Kg. Teringai. Later on, Britney, Celina, Veno and Jiale decided to sign up for something closest to cliff jumping during this summer break. The kids led them up a huge rock of about 2 metres tall. And from there, they had to dive into the river. There were lots of water splashing everywhere, accompanied with laughters and screams of joy.
We had so much fun in the river that we merely heard the sound of the whistle urging us to get back to the hostel in order to make way for the guys to shower after us ladies.
Without us realising, the Sun had already set itself behind the mountains of Kudat. (Sun sets at 6.30pm in East Malaysia). As usual, dinner was ready at the dining area waiting for to dig in. But today was slightly different from other nights. Today was bonding night where musics were played and BBQ dinner was served.
The girls taught us how to make curls on long hair manually without any tools other than our bare hands. It was amazing to discover how the villagers created ways to curl their hair without using a curler!
We ate, sang, and danced like a normal dinner party. But what made it different from other parties was the flavour of their culture that I will never forget. It was a long yet memorable night…
While writing this, I actually have the song ‘Sakitnya Tuh Disini’ playing on my computer, and trust me, that song brings back lots of memories about Project Teringai.
I will never forget the evening where we danced Sumazau in a circle, when the electricity suddenly cut off by itself. That was the evening that we sang “Call Me Maybe” but received no response from our audience. That was the evening where Sean and Xin Tian had their first duet, not forgetting the dance performed by the girls for us too. It was the evening where we realised how the principal and other teachers can actually sing so well. That was the night where we danced so long together and we all sweated so badly. I can still remember the melody of the song going on and on….Sakitnya Tuh Disini, di dalam hatiku, Sakitnya Tuh Disini, di dalam hatiku… with Cornelius’s tiny mini body moving along with every beat.
There are too many things to remember, but nothing to forget. It is indeed a blessing that fate brought us all together. Without anyone of you, #teringai2015 will be so different. Thank you, for all the great memories created by you.
Nunu Gamon Nu? Samadan Oku Dikau.
(What are you doing now? I miss you.)