All throughout school, right from primary school to University, numbers, formulas, geometry, accounting, finance, etc and the likes were things I could never relate to. So, naturally, I wasn't good with Sciences like Physics and of course, with Math. I remember having to work extra hard on these subjects and loathed every bit of it.
But it was totally a different picture with languages. I loved subjects like the General Paper and Literature. Because I enjoyed studying them, I did well for the English Language and the Tamil language, and related modules like Tamil and English Literature, Geography and so on. Alhamdhulilah.
For this, Allah (S.W.T) blessed me with great teachers, people whom I will always thank, next to our Rabb, whenever someone complimented my ability with words and languages.
The first teacher is my Mum. She cannot read English but can speak little English from her work experiences. Having studied in a Tamil medium school till her family could afford, she is fluent in the Tamil language. Before I could start my primary education, I was able to read the entire Tamil textbook. She made me achieve that. And indeed, this was an achievement because in my pre-primary centre, we were taught simple Mandarin. Therefore, the Tamil alphabets were foreign to me when I opened up my new textbook.
Knowing the textbook in out then built up my foundation for a great start of learning with the language, Alhamdhulilah. While having a cane to have a six-year old read a textbook may not be the best method of teaching, my Mum is no master of pedagogy. But I have her to thank for making me love the language. I went on to do well in that language and have won essay-writing competitions consistently, Alhamdhulilah. I read a lot more in Tamil while still in school, and still get excited when I pick up a promisingTamil book. Although I confess, I read lesser of them now.
My love for reading and writing in English was kindled by my teacher who started teaching me from Primary 4 - Madam Lisa Choy Fong Yee. When she started teaching us, she made everyday reading in class mandatory. She made sure we all carried a storybook in our bags. She taught us to pick up phrases from the books, and use them in our essays to bring our stories to life. When we did well with our essays, she would read our stories out aloud in class. And my stories were read out many, many times. Alhamdhulilah. She also introduced the reading badges in school. We got to wear badges on our uniform collars if we read a good number of books (I can't remember how many books we had to read to be able to collect one badge, but I sure remember being able to wear a few badges.)
She would personally monitor our individual reading appetites, and would recommend books with varying difficulty levels. Besides just this, she really was a one of a kind teacher. My schoolmates and I visited her once in our school on Teacher's Day after we graduated. And that was it - she moved on to another school in the east.
While on my current job, I met our former Principal of that school. I went up to her and we spoke, and she told me that Madam Lisa Choy was at that time teaching in her school. I was elated, asked for her email address and wrote to her.
And she replied very quickly. What I didn't expect her was to mention was that she remembered me at the first mention of my name. Masha-Allah. I was so glad to hear this from my one and only favourite teacher. When I wrote my first book on my job for a fund-raising cause, I sent some copies to a few people who have helped to shape my career.
And Madam Lisa Choy was undoubtedly one of them.
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said,"Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim."