Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sepandai-pandai tupai melompat....(As clever as the squirrel hops, it will one day, eat dirt)

Yesterday, during my English class, a student shared with me her anguish and torment. And when I heard it, not only was I troubled, I was stumped too. Words couldn't begin to describe my utter amazement.

She had thought that what she was going to share with me would only happen in movies, in dramas, on TV, or at the cinemas. Never in her wildest dream did she imagine it would happen to someone close to her, or that it would happen in real life.

What she related is truly sad and demonstrated the decline in values amongst youngsters these days. This heart-rending story is about her second cousin, who is from Semporna, Sabah.

This girl is a bright and intelligent student. After doing fairly well in her STPM and scoring in her MUET exam, she was accepted into one of the IPTAs to do Human Resources. She's now in her second year, which means next year, she is supposed to go up stage to receive her scroll, a piece of prized paper yearned by many, but not within everyone's means. Being bright and intelligent, she thought she may as well capitalize on this God-given blessings.

Despite getting a study loan from PTPN, she cajoled her poor parents into parting with their hard-earned income by lying to them that she needed the money to finance her assignments/projects outside of the university, which is in Perak.

Her parents who are in Semporna, Sabah live in poverty. Their house is dilapidated and they are surrounded by squalor. They work hard at their farm to support their huge family. And with their eldest child now in University and supposedly their beacon in future, they step-up their back-breaking toiling at the farm by doing odd jobs at the village to supplement their paltry income.

Apparently, this girl had no qualms lying through her teeth and cheating her parents of their hard-earned meager and measly income by demanding RM200 to RM500 a week to support her so-called assignments/projects. Her mum diligently sent money to her every week thinking how badly her daughter needed the money.

Two days ago, my student, who is listed as the girl's emergency contact received a call from the university. Utter shock couldn't begin to describe her agony and distress at that time. She went numb and limp upon receiving the call.

The girl, upon being admitted to the university, and for reasons only known to her,  had changed her parents' correspondence address to that of her own so that no correspondence goes to her parents.

And, all along, the parents who had assumed that the girl was busy doing her assignments/projects and coursework, was even busier having a ball of her time at pubs and night clubs. That's where she whiled away her time, and that's where she spent all her parents' hard-earned money as well as her PTPN loan, and that's where her life would change dramatically and tragically.

As the Malay saying goes, "Sepandai-pandai tupai melompat, akhirnya jatuh ke tanah jua" is apt and spot-on to describe her stupidity and frivolousness. “Sepandai-pandai tupai melompat…(which when translated means "As clever as the squirrel hops, it will, one day, eat dirt"  is the Malay proverb which tells us that no matter how good and clever you are at wrongdoings, someday you’ll get caught for what you have done.

This scenario is fitting and appropriate to reflect her life. Her hey days at the pubs and night clubs where she was supposedly doing her assignments and projects and spending her parents' hard-earned paltry income came to a crushing and devastating end.

During one of her "drug-infused" and "busy-with-projects" merry-making and revelry at the pub, the police raided the place, and needless to say, she was caught, and tested positive for drugs.

If that is not shattering and devastating enough for my student, she was also told another heart-breaking piece of news by the University. The police is hot on her cousin's heel for a fraud case. It appears that she had forged some documents to enable her to buy a car, and to think this girl is only 21 years old!!!

And if this not bad enough, the girl was also caught for another crime, this time for breaking into her neighbour's house in Perak to steal money, for what I reckoned was to support her despicable drugs habits. And, all along, I thought only males (thousand apologies for this naive assumption) are capable of breaking into people's house!! Boy (no pun intended)!!! was I wrong!!!.

This truly depressing and tragic story brings to mind our roles as parents. Are we doing enough to monitor (especially when we we have to "release") our children to the outside world, far from the safe cocoons of our tender loving hands and care at home. Or, as parents, there is so much that we can do, and monitor.

Personally, I feel for the parents and my student, who is her cousin. My heart and soul goes to them. I grieve for them.

How can their daughter, who was supposed to be the beacon and the guiding light of the family, someone whom her parents had high hopes for, someone who was supposed to lift the family out of poverty and squalor, someone whom her community would regard as the symbol of hope and one they may be proud of, someone who was so naive and innocent at home turned out to be someone they hardly recognize anymore, someone who had betrayed their trust, someone who had deceived them, someone who had let the community and society down - how can it not be, when she had squandered her one precious chance of a tertiary education, that one spot at the university which is much-coveted and sought after by other deserving students!!!

And, what is especially sad is the stark fact that, not only had she destroyed her own future, she had also wrecked whatever glimmer of hope her parents and family had of her and their future....

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