Where Are They When Their Children Receive The Prize?

I was sitting in the very front row with my fellow teachers when my son's name was mentioned. He was awarded as the top student of the school that year.

The announcer called me by name as he knew that I was a teacher of the school. I was to accompany my son to go up the stage.

I could hear the applause and the cheering. It was a wonderful experience. So I stood up straight, turned my head around toward the back of the hall.

From far I could see my son, a tall young man now, smiling broadly and proudly as he came forward to receive his award.

I walked toward him, gave him a hug, and brought him toward the stage.

Walking up the stage together with my son gave me great pleasure. I was smiling from ear to ear. It was very fulfilling and satisfying indeed.

Seeing him shaking hands and talking with the principal and the senior assistance, with elegance and style, I realized that my son had grown up fast and was able to handle tougher challenges in life. How fast time had flied!

To my son, this was a great moment in his life. And I was happy that I was around to share his pride and happiness.

I had seen many students going up the stage alone to received this award in the past. I believed they had cried in their hearts for their parents to be around. But they just couldn't make it.

Yeah, behind a successful child is always the caring parents. But where are they to cherish the moment?

Where are they when their children receive the prize?

If Only You Had Been More Patient and Cool

I remembered you were the fattest student in the school that year. I couldn't quite remember your appearance. But I knew you were a handsome 17 year old boy.

You were very sociable and was very kind to every teacher. You moved a lot in the school compound and I could see your smile and hear your laughter every school day. I quite liked you and just loved talking to you.

I didn't know what had happened to you. All of a sudden, you had become the most fearful troublemaker in the school. You were also very influential. Many had joined you escaping classes and causing troubles during class hours. You destroyed the school properties. You fought with fellow students. You threatened the students and teachers. You smoked and you raced on motorbike. And you broke virtually every school rule and regulation.

What had made you like that? Some said your family couldn't care less about you when they couldn't handle you anymore. Some said you were yearning for attention but no one seemed to care, so you retaliated. How I wished you had been more patient and cool.

One night, you were speeding on your bike racing with friends. I couldn't elaborate the actual details but I heard you had a fatal accident; you dropped into a valley and you died instantly.

Many rejoiced at your going, but I was crying for you. If only you had been more patient and cool, you wouldn't have left us so soon.

Ever since, every school year, I look forward to seeing the fat students. Maybe it's because I am a fat teacher. My only hope for them is that they are not as imposing and reckless like you.

If only you had been more patient and cool...

Under The Durian Tree

I love durian, the king of fruits in Southeast Asia. I love its soft and creamy texture, rich and fragrant scent, sweet and sometimes bitter, almost alcoholic taste. Yummy, that's always my reactions when I put durian flesh into my mouth.

But have you ever waited under a durian tree, waiting for its fruits to drop down? Oh, you should. It is a fantastic experience.

We have tall durian trees in our village. Come durian season, and many of us will be carrying big baskets, rushing and running towards the durian trees. More will join in when the strong winds blow.

Some even make sheds under the durian tree. They stay here from early morning till late afternoon, and they do their cooking here. And they build big, smokey fires to chase away mosquitoes.

Many have a lot of stories to tell while waiting for the durian fruits to drop down. Many childhood memories, many recent happenings, many folk tales and sometimes many scary ghost stories to drive away competitors. There are always laughter and joy. Sitting around these people are pure fun and always take all your troubles away.

Some wear thick clothing and safety huts just in case some durian fruits decide to drop on them. But they always become laughing stalks among their friends. But the seasoned durian pickers just know what to wear, and where to wait and stand.

When the tree belongs to no one, chasing after durian fruits can be challenging and fun. Many get dirty and wet, many fall and injure themselves, and some get frustrated when most part of the fruit they pick is rotten or eaten by the squirrels.

But when the tree belongs to a group of relatives, picking durian fruits is more organized. They take turns to pick. Sometimes they pick a rotten fruit and they start to curse their luck, while others are laughing and jeering away.

Mind you, picking durian fruits can be dangerous. Some lost their eyes and hurt their back and their limbs. I remembered seeing a talkative school boy went to school the next day with a thick bandaged head and everyone passing by him just couldn't stop laughing.

Sometimes many fruits drop at the same time. Picking durians during this time can be real fun though dangerous.

May be you should try waiting under the durian tree.

New Shoes

Walking along the corridor to the office with the newly bought Camel leather shoes, I proceed with confidence and pleasure. I walk with big strides and I enjoy every single step I take. Sometimes, a pair of stylish and comfortable shoes do boost our self-esteem and keep us going in life.

But I find it difficult to say goodbye to my worn out shoes. They have been with me for the pass many years. They still feel comfortable and elegance. I just can't simply throw them away. So once in a while, I still wear them to work and feel the company of a good old friend.

I know that dwelling in the past is not good for me. It is stressful, time consuming, and emotionally draining. And I know that I have a whole life ahead of me, and a bright future to look forward to. But sometimes when I am alone, uncontrollably I will dig deep into my memories and wonder away in the past. Yeah, sometimes they do help me to recover somethings, but sometimes emotions break loose and .....

We are like a car moving forward on a journey. We are to concentrate on our route ahead. Our hands must be steady on the wheel and our legs on the pedals. we are to be clear-minded and alert. There are many twists and turns along the way. The road maybe rough and unpredictable, or it maybe smooth going and calm. Nights and days we drive until we reach our eternal home.

Yeah, we do stop along the way. We take a short break to rest, to have some food and drink, and to have fun. We refuel our car and do maintenance services. But the journey continues...

Putting on my new shoes, I continue my journey.

Yeah, the new shoes feels much better for the journey ahead...

The Dusty Road

My wife is a beautiful lady from a village 20km away. Bus was the main mode of transport during that time.

I remembered 20 years ago when the road to the village was covered with thick red dirt on normal days but muddy and wet every time when it rained heavily. Besides, the road was hilly, curvy, and covered with loose gravel.

Certain part of the road was quite steep, so most heavy vehicles had to move slowly. And the journey downhill could be dangerous as the bus might speed very fast on loose gravel.

Most buses were old, overused and not well maintained. Sometimes the bus broke down and we had to get down and pushed it. It could be fun when the passengers were pleasant and cooperative.

The road was very narrow for two way traffics. So the smaller vehicles usually slowed down when the lorries and buses sped through, covering them with thick dust, or worse, cracking or breaking the windscreen.

Using a bus together with 80-100 passengers was an experience beyond my expectation.

We squeezed together like a pack of smelly sardines. The journey was taxing and harsh with its many twists and turns and some people were throwing up. The air was dense with the exhaust of diesel engine and the horrible odor in the bus. But we had to bear it all the way with patience.

The journey was bumpy and very very dusty! We were all brownish when we came home. The hair was thickened with dust and stiffened like wire. So we had to soak and wash in the river. Sometimes we had to bear it until the next morning if we had a beautiful hairdo that day.

Now that the road is tarred all the way to the village, sometimes I do miss my terrible journey on the bus. LOL

MILO = 3170

Every time when I saw a groundsman dismounting a bike in front of a 4D shop to buy 4-digit lottery tickets, I smiled to myself heartily and remembered one of my old friend who just loved to gamble in small amount when there was a draw. Now, I don't condone gambling, but sometimes I did sit near friends who just loved to talk about their gambling experiences.

People who gamble have all sorts of interpretations about their dreams and everyday occurrences that happen in the world. And they just love to gather together somewhere to talk about it. They will hold their tickets in their hand, talking about the different arrangements of the digits, or how they have wrongly interpreted the digits. They look very serious in their interpretations and sometimes they refer to their books of numbers which have many pictures and the associated numbers! They will argue with you when you don't agree with their interpretations. Sometimes, I just loved to sit near them, sipping a cup of well-brewed coffee. I loved to listen to their funny jokes and stories. There is always laughter and excitement in the air and you can leave the place feeling satisfied and happy. They do brighten your day and lighten your heart. But don't indulge in gambling and speculation. A simple and honest living is more fulfilling and meaningful.

Now, back to my old friend. One day he was late for work because of his dream on "MILO". Riding his bike to school, he was constantly thinking about the number combinations. He tried to dwell his thoughts on what his friends had told him, but to no avail because he was illiterate. He began to sweat and got very uneasy. Suddenly, he felt that he had an itchy back. He stretched out his left hand to scratch it while his right hand was on the throttle. But he couldn't reach it. He began to get frustrated with the unsuccessful attempts that he put his left hand on the throttle and scratched his back with his right hand. Finally he reached the spot and he was smiling away. Then... he and his bike fell into a drain and he was covered with mud all over... He was smiling and giggling... He finally found the number...3170. The bike turned over, so must the letters. He brought two tickets and he struck second prize... and he had another story to tell his friend. And this time, it was real. LOL