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Saturday, 3 September 2016


For the past few days, the theme has been the re-appearance of my ex-students. It came with reminiscing the time when the 'fire' in me was burning fiercely. Ahhh...that brutal yet sweet memories that have functioned as some the best 'life lessons' for me. Apology, am getting older, and wiser hopefully. 

These exs re-appeared in many forms - facebook wishes, doa and prayers, even unexpected dinners and one surprised birthday cake complete with a birthday song in front of a restaurant's door. Some of the words that poured in through facebook touched my heart deeply, I struggled to restrain my eyes from getting wet. 

These ex-students are now contributing back to the society in many different ways. Some are working as lecturers at private and public universities (few have Phds with a Dr in front of their names), while others are teachers, well-known visual artists, curators, designers, film makers, producers, reporters, gallery managers, event organisers and even a passionate farmer and a very rich businessman. So many of them, I lost count. 

To witness their own growth and to have some of them re-appear now and then on the screen of my life, have always been a reward for me. It's a reward that money can't buy. I feel richer than the richest man in the world. My heart glows. Not because of their praising words, but because of a much deeper connection that they have with me. Ok, call it love, but not the corny kind.  

The following example is from Hamidi Hadi, who writes from Makkah. He is a lecturer at UiTM, and a very successful visual artist.

"Saya ucapkan selamat hari lahir buat guru yg menjadi sahabat baik. Saya (kami) disini mendoakan kesrjahteraan dan hidup diredhoi Allah dan diampunkan buat guru2 ku. Salam dari Makkah Mukarramah al Haram. Skrg menanti hari utk wukuf di Arafah..dimana semua manusia dihimpunkan."

Not many students could withstand my mental and emotional onslaughts. In fact, many ran away after receiving few 'jabs' from me. These few stubborn soul, who didn't give up, are precious. The even asked for more. One example of such stubborn type is Noor Azizan Paiman, also a lecturer, and a very well-known visual artists. He also dragged his wife and kids to be my croonies. I can only repay with prayers.

"Asalamualikum buat saudaraku yakni Enche Hasnul Jamal Saidon...maaf atas kelewatan kami di premis "RUANG KASIH" mengucapkan selamat hari lahir kepada anda. Kelewatan ini disebabkan kami memikirkan sejenak...siapakah kamu bagi kami?...setelah kami "menginventori"nya kami meletakkan status anda dalam konteks "HYBRID"...kamu seorang guru/ustaz/bapa dan akhirnya sahabat...usaha kamu begitu "TEKUN" bagi "MENGIMARAH ILMU" dalam "MEMBEDAH" sesuatu masalah dengan penuh nilai "KASIH"...haruslah dijadikan penanda yang bercorak "INFINITI" taakulannya. Kami bersyukur Allah menemukan kami dgn guru baik dan antaranya adalah kamu...semoga Allah sentiasa melindungi dikau bersama keturunanmu dari fitnah dunia, maka dengan itu kami ingin mengucapkan HEPI BELATED BIRTHDAY kepada Enche Hasnul Jamal Saidon sekeluarga."

Another example is Helena Song. Her words are like a beautiful song to me. 

No one knows the future but I know to keep going and doing what is put into my heart with all sincerity and love.
Something that I see in you as well and am so darn proud to be your student.
When you were in UNIMAS, your fire was burning up in great flames. Now I see you as a strong and consistent amber. Though the fire can no longer be seen but the heat is felt much more than before.
Made me reflect of my role as an educator and how my actions and words can inspire those under my charge
It's been 18 years since I left UNIMAS but I can still remember you talking to us..hahah!

'Fire' and 'amber', only Helena can come up with such metaphors.  

Another 'song' comes from Ling Siew Woei. She was one of the pioneer first batch students of a program that I co-designed with fellow lecturers at UNIMAS (University Malaysia Sarawak)way back in 1994. Now a 'domestic executive', she used to be a lecturer at MMU (Multimedia University). She dragged her husband and kids to see me whenever she's in Penang. I felt like a very honored 'bapak'.

Here's what she writes

"Thanks Facebook for telling me it is Kebun Jiwa Halus Sir Hasnul birthday! So blessed we can celebrate his birthday today. From Kajang to Penang. Unfortunately three princess, Deela Delly Adeela didn't join.
We bought him a "designed" cake and when I was asked what to write, this flashed into my mind.
Since day one, he taught me about his heart.
Since day one, he showed me his heart.
Since day one, he walked with me in his heart.
Since day one, he transferred me some portion of his heart.
So, I know he "has know" what love is all about.
Thank you, En. Hasnul for today I also "Has Know" what love is all about. Thanks Kak Rozana Mohamed for being the sweetest lovely and patience wife a man could ever have and I am still learning from.
I have been blessed to be your student in UNIMAS since day one."

No words to reply. 

Witnessing how few of my ex-students have bloomed to be lecturers and even Heads of Program in several local universities have also been amongst the best life rewards for me.

Anuar Ayob, Safrizal Shahir, and here's Nur Shazleen:

"@hasnuljsaidon was my Fine Art lecturer and always a teacher to me"

For all the sleepless nights, the struggles, the mental and emotional bruises endured during the early phase of designing, establishing and in the case of UNIMAS and USM, running several degree programs, I have been generously rewarded by such deeply-felt words by my ex-students.

Many instant experts (and 'visual artists') can leisurely comment, 'highlight' or 'voice out' (clise rhetorical phrase that some 'artists' like to use), make passing remarks, or even create an artwork based on their readings on education. Most are likely more interested in sustaining their presence and heroic brand image as artists rather than a true concern and commitment in education. For me, their posturings are cheap compared to those who have spent their life living and breathing it.

Ya, ya,....I know, the title Professor and all its bragging baggage can be practical, but to be in the prayers and loving hearts of these ex-students are way more cool and awesome than anything that the mind can scheme or the money can buy.

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