One thing I like about my job is that I get to get in touch with Chinese language all over again. Knowing Chinese is also one of the reasons I was being offered the job. All I can say is I’m thankful that Pappy decided to send me to Chinese school and that I continued taking Chinese Language as a subject from Form 1 till Form 5. Iris gave up Chinese when she was in Form 3 because she hated it. It’s tough but I continued anyway because sometimes I love to challenge myself.
Both my parents are English-educated and they do not read or write Chinese. Pappy has always wanted to know what the Chinese Press is talking about, each time he flips open a Chinese newspaper. Because he couldn’t understand a word of it, he wants his daughters to be able to read it the next time. And that is why he wanted to send us to chinese school.
Mummy on the other hand was worried for she fears that if she sent me to a Chinese school, she may not be able to guide or teach me if I ever face difficulties in my studies. I went to a Chinese kindergarten for 2 years from 5 to 6 years old and I enjoyed it I would say. We were made to pin a handkerchief on our uniforms. We have two kinds of uniform. Formal and casual. We sing every morning before class starts and at the end of class. Singing the song before we go back was fun because the minute we hit the last note, we zoom out of the classroom.
After completing kindergarten, Mummy was contemplating whether to send me to a Chinese school or Malay/English school. As she was indecisive, she registered me under two schools. My birth certificate bears two stamps of both the schools. Funny or not?
I went to both schools too. I first went to St.Monica. Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan. Kelas Satu Daisi. The boy who sat next to me was Alvin. See? I still remember my neighbour so well. But I didn’t really enjoyed school because the language used was different. During kindergarten, the teachers spoke Mandarin and it was also during kindergarten that I pick up Cantonese. So when the teacher spoke in Bahasa Malaysia, I could still understand but it just felt so weird. Mummy could sensed that I was a fish out of water.
I only lasted 7 days in St.Monica. Mummy then took me to Chi Hwa. Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan (Cina). That also Mummy did it out of her gut feelings. Mummy asked a girl, my classmate to take care of me and guess what? During recess, she took me by my hand and brought me round the school. So, every recess, we would hold hands. Her name is Renee. I have not met her since until I bump into her in a church a few years ago (went there because a friend wanted me to be there for their christmas performance).
It was also during Primary One in which I got my first admirer. He would write me a three character note. I love you, in Chinese and fold the paper and put it in my pencil case. Each time I read it, I feel very scared. I don’t expect someone to do that and it’s certainly too young for me to have a guy to do such a thing to me. To stop him from professing his love, I would pretend to cry. (Heads down on your crossed hands, on the table, that’s what all the budak perempuan kecik would normally do.) It works. His name is Stephen. I have not met him since then.
It was only normal for me to continue taking Chinese as a subject as I went on to high school. Everything was taught in Bahasa Malaysia but I began to adapt to it. I’m not very good in Chinese, more so after graduating from high school, I sort of lost touch a bit. There are times when I don’t remember how to write certain words.
Now that I’m required to understand both language, English and Chinese, to be able to do my job better, I’m taking the opportunity to brush up my Chinese because there is just so much to learn. I would never stop improving my English as well because sometimes I feel that when I write, it is starting to become a little broken.
One thing’s for sure, if I ever have kids, they would go to Chinese school and that is final. Learning Chinese, or learning any additional language is always an advantage. You get to listen to Chinese songs, understand the lyrics (they are just so different from English songs) and so on. I just want to say Chinese is a very beautiful language.
A friend of Mummy is married to a Japanese and she sends her only son to a Chinese school, unlike his sisters who attends Japanese International School. This boy speaks English, Japanese and Mandarin and I think that is so cool.