It was a nerve wrecking morning. I had had another dream and that would have been my fourth, the third with the same outcome. By then I began to wonder if I am in any way related to Madam Zorra. Hmmm…..
Nabil’s news came in at about 11 and although I was extremely proud of my nephew, my heart was racing to know how Shaf had fared. Me and hubby only wanted him to be able to remain at the school, anything else would be a bonus. Of course he had set to shoot for the stars. And to add to the twist, the two boys had a deal with their gramps, you ace it all, you kids just tell me where you wanna go. Hmph, lucky kids…when I was 15, my gramps had small kids of his own, but that’s another story altogether…
That morning, as with most, if not all SBP’s, or a full residential school, they had their little speeches to mark the occasion. More so since his batch did very well. They ranked second in Wilayah’s SBP and placed top 3 in several other categories. Or something like that. The Pengetua spoke….and spoke but I found it increasingly hard to pay attention. He told us how several students are not permitted to continue at the school for various reasons; discipline problems and managing anything less than a C for Arabic. He displayed the immense pride of a pengetua who was seeing a whopping 67% of his exam students scoring 9 and 8 A’s. Out of this figure, 57 out of just over 140 candidates scored straight A’s. Another speech followed and then came the defining moment..they were going to announce the 57 names, class by class. I could have sworn the entire hall could hear my heart beating. Fast forward to several minutes later, I sighed, his name was not among the 57. It would have been wonderful to see him on stage with his peers but it was not meant to be. And that was ok with us.
We soon made our way to the counter where his class teacher sat, result slips awaiting their rightful owners. Parents and students of the said class were crowded around the desk. Heads bobbed about above the petite teacher, and she began to hand out slips. Each time she mentioned a student name, she punctuated her sentence with, tahniah, awak boleh sambung di SMAKL. Hubby stuck his neck out a little and asked “Shafique Danial ??” The teacher looked up momentarily, “Shafique Danial, Shafique Danial”, she repeated whilst flipping the slips laid out before her. “Ni ketua class saya ni…ha, ni dia, ok, Shafique, tahniah, awak boleh sambung di SMAKL”. Phew…I let out a sigh of relief and was eager to set my eyes on the slip of paper.
All of a sudden I saw the result slip being lifted mid-air in one single swoop by a hand that came out of nowhere. Both me and hubby looked up and saw Shafique staring at his exam results. We searched his face for a clue. All I saw was a look that said he was crushed. Blood drained from his face and one part of my brain thought dear God, it can’t be that bad..and one part of my brain was wondering maybe this was just another of my dreams. I went limp but tried to put on a brave front. We asked, “Shaf…..??” He gave us a weak smile and muttered
Aah..that look he gave earlier had me imagining the worst, but 7? Ok laa tuuu… We hugged and thanked God for his results. Finally we had a chance to look at that sacred slip of paper he held in his hands. Right then I felt a compelling sense of déjà vu and somewhere at the back of mind, I thought, wow, 3 out of my 4 dreams…Madam Zorra must be in the family tree after all….!
Shaf may have been a little disappointed, particularly during the early moments after he found out but we felt blessed enough. Looking back, he had had great difficulty adjusting to life in a SBP. He had always been a good student and coupled with the life he had at a private primary school, First Form at a Residential Sekolah Agama proved to be a huge challenge. Compounded by the fact that he had zilch exposure to the Arabic language, his first year there was quite simply, rather traumatic. Or was that me..?
Seriously though, it was no bed of roses for him that first year. He called me everyday pleading that we took him home. I spent hours on the phone persuading him to persevere. In all honesty, at the time I bore such animosity towards his father who was the one who insisted, this was what he wanted for his first born and I should just support him. God..those were difficult days…It took a toll on me and often left me in tears. My days felt empty without him at home and knowing how badly he was coping made my heart scream. I could only turn to HIM to seek guidance and my closest girlfriends for comfort and support.
He was miserable and there was also reason to believe that he was being bullied by several seniors. To make things worse, for the first time ever, he was failing in some of his classes with Arabic being his worst subject. But slowly he began to pick up the pieces. Probably through sheer grit and a whole lot of doa, he began to make friends and by the middle of last year his academic potential reappeared. Finally his third year came and somewhere along the way, he must have woken up. By the time his trials came along, he had had a new resolve.
We have his teachers to thank, several more than others. Those early days when we were all ready to throw in the towel, they supported him and gave him (and us) the strength we needed to prod on. Others gave him extra coaching (yes, he got a B for his Arabic..!) and the will to aim for the best. The new pengetua, who came in several months before the exams also made a huge impact. And of course, my dearest husband, whose dogged determination led our first born there in the first place.
So our son did not ace all 9..but everything happens for a reason and I am certain He knows what is best. The journey has only just gotten started. In two years none of this would matter much because that would be when it truly begins. As for the trip with the gramps..? Oh, that will most likely still take place and yes, you betcha - I think he deserves it.