Sunday, September 4, 2016

Pak Mat Beca

I started school in 1971. I went to Sekolah Ismail (Dua), as far as I am concerned the only primary school in the whole universe and every kid must go there or the government will put their parents away forever.

The "Dua" or Two (2), does not mean there were two Sekolah Ismails. There was only one, except that there were two sessions, morning and afternoon. When I started in standard one, I was in the morning session. Apparently, somehow, the two Ismails alternate, and I really can't recall ever having to go to school in the afternoon.

Every morning, my cousin, the late Hashimah Hashim (Allah bless her soul), and I would wait for Pak Mat to pick us up in his beca, his trishaw. And, until I changed school in 1976 (that's another story to tell), Pak Mat and his beca would take me to school every school day. I know of no other way to go to school and I did not really appreciate the distance that Pak Mat had to cycle to pick us up and send us to our respective schools, which was practically on the opposite sides of Muar town (Shimah went to Sultan Abu Bakar or popularly know to Muarians as SAB, an all girls school; while Ismail school was an all boys school).

Nor did I ever knew how much he earned ferrying us, and (I assumed) other children to and from school. I never knew of his life besides toiling morning, noon and until late afternoon, bent over his trusty trishaw, fighting headwinds caught by the green canvass collapsible roofs over our heads, braving torrential rain and searing afternoon heat, to ensure we arrive safely at school and back home again. 

I never ever found out whether he was married, how many children he had, how old are they, which school did they go to.... And, how do they go to school?

Even well after I graduated from college, I am sure I saw Pak Mat and his beca along the route between Ismail School and SAB.

And the saddest thing of all, I don't even know his real name.

It is one of life's ironies I guess, that a person whom has such a contribution in shaping our futures, remains in total anonymity. 

I am sure he probably has left this earth by now.... I think will dedicate a prayer for him today.


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