Once upon a time there was this untidy and unkempt primary school girl. She used to spend her recess time and free time walking alone without friends. Her parents were too busy earning a living to take fuss on her and her appearance. Her class teaches would always complain to her mother when she was visiting the school during report card day to tidy up on her appearance and her results. The little girl was not aware that she was being untidy. Normally she would walk a short distance to school, come back with her little brother and eat whatever found in the rice cooker.
When she was 9 years old, she started hand washing the clothes that her mother had soaked as she does not wish her tired mother to wash them. Basically both her brother and her will divide the household chores between themselves to do. Both of them had learned household chores from a very young age. As both their parents work in shifts, they have to learn to fend from themselves from young. Many times in the evenings both of them were alone without any help or support from relatives. However they had kind neighbors who would take a peek once a while to see if they are alrite. They came from a poor family where nice cars, washing machines, tuition classes and piano classes were something they could ill afford. The house is a very old and worn down one situated in the middle of a nice satellite town. Imagine that everytime it rains heavily, both the front porch and the kitchen will be leaking (and sometimes flooded) with rain water. However, wealth is seldom a measure for happiness. No doubt the family was poor, they were a close and supportive unit.
In school, the teachers looked down on the little girl. Once the little girl heard the Standard Two class teacher telling her Standard Three class teacher how useless she thought the girl was. Her academic result is one of the top if you count from the last upwards. But strangely enough, the girl did managed to score straight As in her primary school exams even though she never did well in trial or term exams. She is one in the 69 students who managed to score top results that year. Due to the prejudice that the teachers had on the girl, instead of sending her to the good schools that all the other 68 students were sent to, they placed her in another school that is famous for its gangsterism.
However that turned out to be a true blessing in disguise. The girl got to know a set of new friends, friends who are nice and came from similar backgrounds as her. She started making some close friends from the schools as she became less shy and introvert. With that she gained more self confidence and her results started to climb slowly. In that school, no one knew her therefore she needed not endure the prejudice that followed her until Standard Six. Even though her school was filled with gangsters who play truant, smoke at the playgrounds behind the school and even went to the extend to set the school office on fire, they never disturbed or cause nuisance to other decent students. The gangsters are basically kids who came from broken, poor or unloved families. There were gangsters in the girl’s class as well but they never harmed her or others. Anyhow the situation of gangsterism was reduced gradually when a new headmistress took over from the school. The headmistress had to endure lots of threats, having her car tyres slit and the office burnt with a warning on the wall asking her to leave. But the headmistress persevered and enforced a lot of disciplinary rules. In the end, the school changed from a gangster school to a school that produces top scorers. Ironically the other so called “good” schools then was going down in terms of standard and increase gangsterism activities.
Many ex-students from ex-gangster school still remembers the headmistress with fondness long after she has been promoted and left the school. There is an old Chinese saying that goes “you may look down on a 80 year old man but never on an 8 year old lad”.
Many people have potential and abilities that even they do not know. But sad to say, because sometimes they are being judged negatively by their outward appearance, they were never given a chance or encouragement. I have met so many intelligent and highly potential people who came from family backgrounds that do not believe in an education. People who cannot command a decent salary and exploited just because of their education level. Sometimes it is good if we learn to look beyond the superficialities and be more generous in saying kind words of encouragement to others.
The story above also reminds me of the real incident happening to my own mother, whereby she was told by a relative that he will carry her shoes on his shoulders (those days in the Chinese custome, it is an insult to carry the shoes of someone on your shoulder) if she can even pass her Senior Cambridge (equivalent to Form 5 today). She not only pass but did it with good results. Strangely enough, the relative never breathed a word about fulfilling his promise after that……………………