What is so big deal about our age? Well, let's see...
At 6 years old, you can start enroll in a kindergarten school, to play and learn with other kids the same age as yours. Kids nowadays even start going to pre-school as early as 5 years old, some may already be sent to 'pre-of-the-pre-school' when they reached 4 years old. Crazy or weird? Or too advance?
From 7 to 12 years old, we had to go to primary school. During my time, I remember only taking 4 subjects for UPSR (the big exam at standard six), but I have no idea how many subjects kids nowadays have to cover. These were the years where the words like “no”, or “don't” can never blend well with our brain wave.
13 to 17 years old, the secondary school premier. If I ever to give advise to those students in secondary school on how to pass the exam with flying colors – memorize everything! Only after I finished with my SPM that I know about this little secret. The more you can memorize, the higher the chance is for you to score well in the exams. But, even if anyone would ever ask me to re-do my SPM, I definitely will say NO. Ahahaha.
One of the scariest moment in my life was when I stepped into and sat inside the 747-400 Boeing airplane, on my way from Subang Airport (back then Subang Airport was the international airport, before KLIA was built) to Heathrow Airport in London, to pursue my higher education oversea. Being 17 years old at that time, it was a big challenge for me to be far far far far far away from my beloved family. Knowing that I had to spend 5 years in the United Kingdom, I prayed that I can return safely back to my home country, with a degree in my hand, as a present to my parents.
I still remember when I got the result of my final year exam which I passed, I called up my father:
“Dad, my result just came out. I'm sorry I can't meet the target as you set for me. I couldn't get a first class degree. I'm sorry. I've tried my best, but it was so hard to score first class. I'm sorry dad.”
“So, are you saying you've got your degree? You passed the final exams?” My dad trying to reconfirm what he have just heard.
“Yes dad, I passed. But I did not get first class.” I clarified him.
There was a silence on the end of the phone line. I was waiting to be scolded, or something similar to that from my father. But it was just a silence.
“Dad, are you okay? I'm sorry I can't get first class as I promised.”. I tried to break the silence.
With a voice like someone who is in tears, my dad said...
“...It's okay son. I don't care what your result is. I know you've tried your best. I am just so happy to hear that you've passed your exam and now you have a bachelor degree in engineering in your hand. I'm so proud of you son. Sorry for the short silence just now, I did sujud syukur. I am so grateful. Now my responsibility to give formal education to you have finished, and I hope you grow up to become a good man.”
Hearing that, I broke into tears.
That was 9 years ago, and I was 22 years old.
From then onwards, my life continued further with me having a family, a career, making many more new friends and though I was done with my formal education, I never let myself stop learning.
Today, my age turned 31. And I still haven't stop learning. I love to learn (though I can say I hate exams). I like to learn about life, about people's behavior, about how to become a better person.
For me, the only way to become better is to learn. Learn the good and the bad from what you experience, from what you see around you, from what people are talking about, from what you read, and convert them all to make yourself better.
I don't know for how many more days, or months or years I will be alive, but I pray that I will always have the strength and interest to continue learning and to become a better person.
P/s: I don't like cake as much as I like roast chicken. Cake can make me fat and unhealthy, but roast chicken can make me one happy birthday boy!