Cikgu Ashaari Yaacob (now retired)
I remember that cikgu was always busy with a lot of responsibilities. He was our Sejarah teacher when we were in Form 2 Alpha. We were then a very noisy group. He would enter our class for his lesson in the midst of the chaos (of "in between" lessons). One of our friends, nicknamed "Siput" was his "favourite" - Cikgu always caught Siput making noise (mostly telling jokes), playing the fool, and also "disturbing" the girls (not that we minded so much...). Cikgu would use the "soft approach" with Siput (of course cynically) and Siput would always find excuses. The part I like the most was when Siput said "Cikgu, dia gila" and cikgu's reply was "Hanya orang gila sahaja akan mengata orang lain gila!", and the class would burst into laughter!!
During my time in SMSKel, cikgu was at one time or another the advisor to the Prefects Board, House Master, and advisors of several clubs and societies.
When I was in form 5, Cikgu was made the school counselor as well as being in charge of the school main timetable (for ALL teachers!). I still remember during one of my "sessions" with him, he complained how he had to be involved in so many things, and yet his hours of teachers were also high. Nowadays, counselling teachers DO NOT have any teaching load at all!!!
I didn't go to him for counselling, i was actually summoned by him. That could be the reason why I didn't really like him then (in retaliation). Despite that, I poured out most of my problems to him. Only now I can imagine how difficult for him to have to "handle" problematic students like moi! Hahaha!!!
The incident that prompted me to hate him more was when he told me that my name came up as a candidate for the "Head Girl" for 1979, and he objected to the committee, saying that I had too much problems of my own that I was not to be burdened with more responsibilities. At that time I was already the acting Head Girl for almost 6 months!! NOW I know that he meant well, but at that time it was like a big blow to me for not being appointed the post, and I really really hated him for that. Who was he to decide on my behalf, I thought....
Anothe incident was when i received the form for application to go to Australia, it was just a few days after my father's death. I told Cikgu that I didn't want to fill in the form because I wanted to go to USA and not "hujung dunia", as I put it. Cikgu scolded me and forced me to fill in the form :-(
(Actually I was feeling very down because I didn't get to show my father the offer that I had been telling him about, just a month earlier... The offer came just a few days late :-( )
Anyway, Cikgu finally made me realised that it was the best thing to do at that time and I just had to swallow the bitter fact.
When I was away Down Under, and my emotion was more stable, I came to realise how well cikgu meant. I sent him Raya card almost every year, even until I started teaching in Ipoh and later in KL. Until now, I feel like he's the "replacement father" that Allah gave me.
When I came back for the first time, one of the first few people I visited was him (the other 2 were Cikgu Sharifah Maimunah, my primary school teacher, and Cikgu Mat Brahim, my form 5 class teacher). Cikgu Ashaari never failed to come to any of our functions (when I first got married, then during my eldest child's aqiqah, and the few gatherings that my batch had).
Here's a pix of him with some of us during our 2001 Raya Meet (Batch 75-79) in the SMSTMFP canteen.
I had always wanted to do something for him as my show of appreciation to what he had done to me. I finally managed to do so in 2003 when I managed to convince him to attend the SEMESTA AGM - I paid for his Air Asia tickets- not much, but I am glad I did it. During the meet, I could see how happy cikgu was to be able to meet his former students. One of them was one who he was trying to trace all these while (apparently that person had some personal problems too while in SMSKel and cikgu was the unofficial counselor - at a time when there was no "specially assigned" one). I was touched when I saw both of them with teary eyes.
Here's the pix during that AGM:
I last met Cikgu in 2004 when I was in KB for 1 week - to observe my students teaching at Kolej Jururawat, Kubang Kerian. I gave Cikgu a call in between the observations, he told me to come over,which I did, and I had lunch with him and missus.
He's still very active with his group of retired teachers - organising and conducting Agama classes.
I still remember Cikgu's pesan- he said people like me should come back to school to contribute. There are still so many students in SMSTMFP who are in the situation that I was in back in 1970s (no need to elaborate, hehehe..) And that IS precisely the reason why I am still involved in SEMESTA's activities. All these are nothing, compared to what Cikgu has done for me!
Terima kasih cikgu!!