Without even realizing it, the last day of our stay in Teringai Darat had arrive. Despite after going through a long night of star gazing, wishing upon the shooting stars and non-stop chitchatting among the committee, we still wake up early. After some simple washing up, we move all our belongings to the canteen and temporary store them there until the van came and pick us up. There were also a few boxes of story books, board games and leftover stationary carried by the volunteers to the library and teachers’ office respectively.
The children are all over the field, having their breakfast or doing some exercises, just like another ordinary day here in Teringai. The atmosphere changes as soon as they know we’re leaving. Students were sad when we were about to leave, there were sadness in their smile. Volunteers were all creating memories with the children all over the compound, including the stage, the canteen, and even in the classroom via photographs. Out of the blue, it started pouring and all the students headed back into the classroom, while the committee went to the canteen to have our final breakfast here in Teringai.
After having the nice and warm breakfast prepared for us by the canteen aunty, we head back to the court to play and talk with the kids. Both my god daughters, Meglina and Danella, couldn’t hold back their tears as soon as they saw me. They couldn’t stop crying since yesterday. They were overwhelmed with sadness by the fact that we will be apart soon. After two weeks of studying and playing together, the bond between us were strong. They often share the story of their family members, the story of their life there in Teringai, and even the ghost story of how the legendary headless ghost, named B kuasa dua, with the sound of a chicken, haunts the place we stay, while I share mine with them too. I have some talks with them, motivate them to keep trying hard and strive for success, what touches my hearts is when Danella says, “kakak, saya akan ingat apa yang kakak ajar. Saya akan berusaha untuk terus ke sekolah menengah, supaya saya akan berjaya, dan jumpa dengan kakak semula.” This really struck me hard, and makes me glad and relief that I do really succeed in making a positive impact in their life, and giving them the motivation to strive for a better future.
Soon, we move into 6A classroom, to have our majlis perpisahan. After the speech by the headmaster, our project leaders, Shun Qi and Lena, were invited to give a speech as well. The event followed by presenting of souvenirs to both the school and a villager, Encik James that helps us a lot during the two weeks. He guided us around the village, brought us for a hike, get us fresh coconut drinks, and even brought us out for a meal in Jaffland’s restaurant. The headmaster then gave us the certificate one by one, followed with the signing of our name on the poster and playing of the video prepared by the committee. The majlis perpisahan ended with the performance prepared by the committee and all the standard six students. It starts with a dance with the song ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’ and ends with the song ‘Laskar Pelangi’, where all of us starts crying again.
After the majlis, all of us moved up the stage, while the students, including kids from standard 1 to 5, who were not joining the majlis perpisahan, line up on the court. A few pictures were taken before all the committee were asked to line up in a line, while the kids walk up to us in a line, and ‘salam’ with us for the last time. The scene and the atmosphere were very depressing, most of the kids, even those from standard 1 to 5, tears up when they shake our hands. All of us cried while trying to comfort them, hugging them hard, before letting them go. The standard 6 kids keeps tearing up non-stop, all were crying, even that claim, ‘saya lelaki, saya kuat, saya tak akan nangis nanti kak’. Most of the kids left afterwards, some were giving last minute handwritten letters, my kids gave me flowers made from tissue, which we realised afterwards those were the decoration used to decorate the school, but the standard 6 kids all refuse to go. They kept hugging us, begging us to stay here, and bring our family too.
It’s eventually time to leave, we slowly move to the car, to load the truck, while all the kids followed. They kept coming up to hug us, refuses to let us leave, while the committee tried to comfort them, some even made the promise to come back next year.
The committees get on the truck preparing to leave, while me and 3 others gets into the teacher’s car. We bid goodbye to all the kids crowding the school gates and surrounding the cars parked, while take a last gaze on the whole school compound, with the car slowly slide out of the school. Despite heading back to modern civilisation soon, I believe none of us were relieved we were leaving now. The memories we made here, will be marked in our hearts, together with all the insects bite marks on our body, stay with us, forever.