Monday, September 27, 2010

Of New School, Expectation & Unnecessary Pressure

I took the day off last Wednesday. Coming to think of it, it was only a month ago that I left Dundee. And it is going to be three weeks that I have been making Luton err... Farley Hill to be exact, my home. I left early every morning to avoid the heavy human traffic using the service of either the First Capital Connect or East Midlands to St. Pancras. The journey is quite pleasant though regardless of one getting a seat or not. If you managed to get a seat, you can drown yourself in a good book - 35 minutes can cover a lot of pages. If you cannot get a seat, it is still ok. 35 minutes is not that long when you have the farms, hills and fields to soak in through your journey. But once you reached St. Pancras, it is a different story. You just want to get out of the train and walk (almost run) to get to the right line that will carry you to your destination err... office where you slave yourself for 10 or more hours.

Back to why I took the day off. It is Hakim's first day of school and Danish appointment with the school where he has been offered a place.  Danish interview, well, not exactly an interview - it is just a get-to-know kind of interview. They asked questions like how long were you at the last school, what is your favourite subject, what is your interest, what do you want to be when you grow up, etc... The meeting went well until one of the teachers  read Danish's report from St. Ninian when he concluded the school has some expectations for him. And it is quite scary to my ear when the teacher was saying, "Danish, whichever class or group you are in, please don't ever lower your standard to meet the others. Maintain your standard, maybe you can inspire them to up theirs, OK?" Whoa! The meeting ended with us agreeing to send Danish the next day for an assessment to determine which group he will be assigned to. Phew!

Next, to Hakim's new school. I was quite overwhelmed the way they welcomed him. They were very excited having him there, they said. And we were brought around the school. I think I want to study there too and I guess Hakim is very lucky to be offered a place there. They have almost everything - ICT rooms, patches in the garden for the students, two big halls, a science garden complete with a pond, fields,even a full time nurse and a sick bay! We were introduced to his class teacher who's a Scottish. Then we came to learn what the excitement was all about. "We called his old school and the Head Teacher was saying, 'We are sorry to lose him, he is a very smart boy!'" Oh dear!

Now, don't get me wrong here. I am glad that the teachers are happy to have at their respective schools. I like the way they have interests in the children's future - at Danish's school for example, the students were given the chance to take subjects which can cater to what they want to be when they grow up which I considered very good. I am also glad that my children are doing fine at school. But, I do not want to impose anything on them. Of course I will not lie about my feelings. As a Mom I am proud of them BUT I don't believe in creating unnecessary stress or burden on the children. When we came back from school that day, Danish was busy revising, scared he will screw up in the assessment test. And together we go through mean, mode & median, angles, a bit of algebra & doing some sample tests from the internet.

And when Hakim came back on his first day of school, he was asking my assistance to help him with his research to write a biography of Martin Luther King! You see what I mean?

My thinking is that children have to be children, They can work hard for school but it has to come with a fun element in it. Now, I know they will have more fun doing their school work if there is no pressure to meet the expectation attached to them! Well. I don't know - I just hope they are going to turn up right.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Those We Left Behind Part 2

Among the first friends we made when we arrived in Dundee is Mina.  It was a day after we arrived and getting ready to go to Taymills for Eid Gathering. There she was walking her dog Romar around the playground.  We exchanged our "Hi Ya" and we have been friends since. We always talk to each other every time we meet. And Romar will be faithfully waiting for us to finish our conversation. Usually it will start with "Are you good?" And it led to other matters. She always have time - never does she seem disinterested in our chanced meeting (which is often).

In the morning of the day we moved out, I saw Mina walking Romar from my kitchen window. I rushed out to see her - I have to say Good Bye. So, there I was running after her. "Mina!" I called out. There she was. Turning her back. Smiling and waiting for me to catch up.

"Mina! We re leaving today." I told her.
"So, it's today?" she asked back for confirmation.
"Yes, Mina"
"I will miss all of you". She said.
"We'll miss you too - you have been part of us." By this time all my family members have reached the spot where we were talking. Aqil & Hakim as usual played with Romar. But as if he knew, he's not as playful as always.
"It feels like yesterday that you arrived." said Mina
"Time flies, Mina - it's no longer running."
"I guess you are right. Will you be visiting?"
"Of course, Mina. We love this place."
"When you are here, pay me a visit."
"We will."
"Keep in touch. I will give you my email address."
"And I'll give you mine. We'll keep in touch. If you are coming down, tell us. We'll be happy to see you."
"I will."
We talked a bit more. Took some photos.
"Go now. I'll be holding you up. You still need to do your last packing."
"Right Mina. We may come in November."
"Then visit."
"We will." And we departed.

While we were doing our last packing, there was a knock at the door. I rushed to open the door. It's Mina.
"Come in, Mina." I said
"No. It's all right. I just want to give you this." She said handling me with a plastic bag.
"It's for the journey." She said.
"Oh. Thank you, Mina, you shouldn't."
"That's all right." We hugged and she left.

I was so touched when I saw what inside the bag - six bars of chocolates and a piece of paper with her email address and phone no. Mina is like that. She used to come up with surprises. One day, I saw her carrying a bag. and she was busy waving at me. It turned up that she has a ball for Aqil and a bear for Mia. Then when she found out that Aqil liked the bear, she gave him another.

Mina lives alone with her poodle, Romar. She did her own light shopping but every week, there'll be a lady coming in to clean her house and shop for her. I never asked her where her children are but I have never seen any visiting her. There was never any children mentioned in our conversations but on some weekends, her Sister-in-law will come down from St Andrews to fetch her to spend the weekends at her place.

So far, I've received three emails from Mina. She wanted to know how we are getting on. On the last, she told us she misses us. Well, we do miss her too. We only hope that she is always in good health and happy. Till we meet again.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Those We Left Behind Part 1

It feels like ages before I log in to this blog. The reality is, it was only over a week ago we came down from Dundee. My life has been like some fast forward reel. As I mentioned before I started work last Friday (August 27). Since then, it is taking the tube from Willesden Green, changing to Piccadilly line at Green Park and stopping at Hyde Park Corner, joining the many rushing out from the underground to work. It has been as early as 7pm before I left the office but most slightly more. Still, there is a lot of work to do. Life is fast-paced as far as work is concerned.

On my journey back from work, my mind kept reminiscing of life back in Dundee. The year that we spent there was a very good year though a bit marred by the coldest winter in 30 years. We made friends, we became part of a community who blends well without a care of what color, which belief or from which part of the world you came from. Everything is in a peaceful tandem. It's like we are in the company of friends at every corner. This entry may be "Belated" but here goes ....

On the day we left Dundee, friends came to visit - the women helping with last bit of packing making it much easier. The men having the last chat and helping with the last packages. How I miss them all - They are like brothers and sisters to us. United by the search of knowledge and linked by strong ukhwah. As I am writing, I can't help a bit of tears or two - not of sadness mind you, but of gladness that I and we were given at least that phase of our life to understand how it is like to be in a community so understanding, so peaceful, so amicable.

Oh yes, we do miss those we left behind - Aine, Taufik (We cannot thank you both enough - you have been such great people) & family (Aqil has been asking for Fathi); Ina, Zahir (Thank you to both of you for everything especially for taking care of Mia while we were out of town and the mengaji session - we admire your generosity so much) & family (Mia will be sending a card to Balqis soon); Fiza , Azhar (Thank you so much for everything) & family (Mia will write to Dina soon); Fa (Take Care, Sis and I pray that you have all the strength that you need), Ustaz Amin & family; Ana (please take good care of yourself - May Allah Bless you with the strength that you needed to go through), Mahzan (I know you are taking great care of Ana) and family; Nor, Zul (Thank you so much for all your great great food - we missed them already) &amp family (the next time we visit, Quratul 'Ain will not be the sleepy baby she is now! And Akak will be a lovely young lady); Elly (Be strong ya, Sis - Tell me if you have started your classes) & Mahadi (Take Great Care - she's "fragile" now and thank you ever so much for the polaroid snaps - we'll treasure them);

And all our love & good wishes for - Khamsah (The Great Chef of the North :-D), Amir (be mindful of the food, now!) & family; Ustazah Ika & Midi (before you leave do visit us); Dell, Mahiz & family (now you have a choice of Uxbridge & Luton when you come down); Shahrul, Mala (keep it up - hopefully you have every assistance needed in completing your research) & Sara; Shikin (Insya Allah we'll be back for further studies), Ustaz Nizam, Zaid (the Best Dressed Boy) & Mayam (who blends in immediately); Zaiti (Sorry for not meeting you before we left - it is so rushed), Shahrul & Maryam (the beautiful girl); Zaquan & Alisa (the sweet2 couple); Helmi (if you come down to Surrey do pay a visit, ya); Anas (Thanks for your insights on Fiat Money, Bretton Woods and the monetary system) & Hani,

And all the brothers and sisters - Azline (I'll try to update my blog - but things get very busy lately - by the time I reached home I am already for the bed), Liyana & Liyana (yes, the two of you), Amal, Izzati (both of you are great!), Siti (knows you for a short while but it is well worth it), Ibkaar, Rauhan, Vishnu and for the rest of you, do forgive if I miss anyone but our prayers to all of you - It has been great having the opportunity to know you.