Today is Teachers Day. It is celebrated on May 16 every year.
Your great grandfather, Lim Chien Chye, was a well respected teacher. He is Lim Teik Leong’s (your Ah Kong) father. I have never met him for he passed away in 1970, just after I was born. If he was still alive, you would have referred to him as Ah Chor.
Lim Chien Chye left such an impression on his students that even after many years, they still remember him! At the age of 55, Tan Sri Khir Johari (former Minister of Education) remembers him and affectionately called him Pak Chye.
“Regardless of race, we affectionately added the honorific “Pak” to their names. Thus Mr Lim Chien Chye became Pak Chye, Mr Veraamuthu, Pak Muthu and so on.” The Star, 20 Nov 2006
Your Ah Kong and Ah Ma are also teachers. In fact, of the 23 uncles and aunties I have, 11 are teachers! Your Ah Ma has taught hundreds, if not thousands of children including Marina Mahathir’s children and Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s children. Anwar remembers Ah Ma and his wife sent her regards to her last year. They remember her as “Mrs Lim from Damansara tuition”. Last year, I met a mother who was a student of Ah Ma; she wanted Ah Ma to teach her son! Your Ah Ma has many students who come back many years later to send their own children to her for tutoring.
Being the children of teachers taught us the importance of education and discipline. Your Ah Kong used to read many books instead of watching TV. There is small library of books in his house; a legacy for the next generation. Last year Jee Chik bought Ah Kong a Kindle. The first book he read was “Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone”. And here is an interesting thing about reading: you can read any book you like. Just read! As you read, new ideas and vistas will open up for you. I remember reading the Children’s Encyclopaedia in my mid twenties. You can laugh but, hey, at least I have read an entire encyclopaedia!
Dear Paprika, as you go through life, you will meet many teachers. Some will teach you in school while others will teach you in life. Each one will have something to contribute to your life. Listen to them, understand what they are teaching and learn to discern what is useful and what is not. Ah Kong used to tell me this story: John F. Kennedy’s tutor told him, “You will need many more teachers than just me alone.” Then the tutor pointed to the many books in the Kennedy’s family library and told him, “Here are your teachers!”
You come from a long line of great teachers. You and your brother are children of teachers. I hope you will always be respectful of your teachers, honour them as every student should and remember their legacy for it is they who build nations.
Your loving father,