My apologies to everyone for not posting "Tuesdays With Bapak". I was not well -- fever plus medication -- and was unable to write. I was knocked out, slept through the entire time that I should have been writing an instalment of TWB.
I hardly get sick so when I do fall ill, I'm really out.
So, here's a little something. I hope it is not too late.
Que Sera Sera - July 24 2007
If Bapak had his way, he would want a doctor, an engineer, an architect and a lawyer, or two or three of each, among his children.
Not because of the prestige or whatever. But I think perhaps he thought it'd be good to have a doctor in the house to take care of the family's health, a lawyer to take care of any legal problems, an engineer.....
Bapak never counted journalists among them. He reckoned none of us would want to endear ourselves to long and irregular hours. And for that kind of pay.
He was quite wrong.
Two of his children -- Kak Ton and I -- chose to be journalists. Bapak had nothing to do with our decision.
For Kak Ton however, journalism was not the first path she took. Fresh out of university and newly-married in 1971, she followed her husband, Roslani to Kuala Kubu Bharu. Roslani had assumed the position of Magistrate in this small town.
Being a teacher seemed to be her only option.
So when Roslani returned to Petaling Jaya not long after, for another judicial position, she happily applied to be a journalist with Bernama.
Bapak who was then managing editor of the New Straits Times, told her not to apply to the newspaper.
As for me, my first choice was to join the NST in 1978. Bapak was in detention then.
In fact, I underwent practical training with the NST twice to fulfil my academic requirement before I applied for the job. This was also during Bapak's incarceration.
I remember being interviewed by (managing editor) the late Dr Noordin Sopiee who was on the three-member panel. I think the other two were either (news editor) Philip Mathews or (chief news editor) the late Dahari Ali , and Anselm Rozario (editorial training).
It was purely formality but he had to ask the routine questions.
In my application form I had stated that if I were given options (besides KL), Penang or Johor Baru would be where I'd like to work.
Noordin asked why. I said because Penang reminded me of Singapore where I was born and Johor Baru was next door to Singapore.
I didn't think they were clever answers but I was being honest.
Throughout my working life in NST, I was never transferred out.
I used to wonder about that.
I'll tell you one thing, I quite envied my colleagues who were posted to the states.
To me, being a state correspondent offered a wealth of experience which was so valuable to a journalist.
When I was a little girl, I had an autograph book. In those days it was de rigeur for schoolchildren to have autograph books for their friends and schoolmates to sign at the end of the year for remembrance.
I remember such sweet things: "meeting is a pleasure, parting is a pain, keep this as a treasure, till we meet again" or "F R A N C E -- Friendship Remains And Never Can End" or yet another gem "I T A L Y -- I Trust And Love You".
One day, Roslani or Abang Ani as I called him (and still do), was at our old house in Section 5, Petaling Jaya.
It was at the end of the year and school had ended.
I asked him to sign my autograph book.
He asked me what I wanted to be and I unhesitantly said "ballerina" or "scientist".
I loved ballet and was a ballet student and I loved "science" which was to me anything to do with Earth, the galaxy, the milky way...oh... outer space. And in the 60s, it was outer space. I would devour books on these subjects and the "Tell Me Why" range.
So Abang Ani wrote: "To my ballerina-scientist, study hard and may your dreams come true".
So what happened to my dream of becoming a ballerina or a scientist?
Oh... things happened. I suppose what I wanted to be when I was nine was not what I wanted to be when I got to be 17.
By the time I was in secondary school I knew I wanted to write, not necessarily for a newspaper.
Bapak recognised the fact that I was very playful. I was not your regular studious type.
It was ok in the first four years of secondary school. But came my fifth form, he felt I was not doing enough studying and needed "encouragement" .
So, nearing my MCE (Malaysian Certificate of Education, equivalent to the present SPM), Bapak decided that I needed to be serious.
So for a week I spent the day in a room at the NST, studying, with only lunch and tea breaks.
I'm not too sure whether that was effective. But I know one thing, I so liked the environment there.
The people seemed to be "on the move". They seemed to be doing something all the time. There seemed to be activity all day long.
It was so exciting. That did not escape me. I was gone.
During my pre-university (sixth form), I had already decided that I wanted to be a journalist.
My forced week-long studying stint at the NST was not the only time I got familiar with the newspaper world.
I had met many reporters and had been to the NST (during times we sent Bapak to or fetched him from work).
So many factors helped form my perspective of what working in the newspaper was about.
So when I had to decide what I wanted to take up after my sixth form, I chose Mass Communications (journalism). Imagine, my second choice was Law. And my third? Advertising.
I did not seek Bapak's approval when I enrolled at UiTM. But he did not object.
There is no doctor in the house. No architect nor engineer.
But, oh, just a couple of lawyers, journalists, a bio-chemist .............