Sunday, November 22, 2009


This is going to be a few entries about my life experiences. I will try to write minute pieces of my past as I remember them, while growing up in each entry.

A lot of us get discredited sometimes. It's meant to belittle our work, effort or talents. We hear it often, but we usually do not care much when it is about others.

But in our personal lives, being discredited is sometimes painful to hear. I remember when I was 9 years old. I was a late bloomer so I didn't know my ABCs and I didn't know how to read. I was always the last 5 in class because I couldn't possibly read the questions in the exam papers. I memorize the shape and order of letters to answer questions, which of course would read out nothing but nonsense. But one thing I was good at was math. It was the only thing that made sense to me at that time. I could do math because there is nothing to read. All I had to do was to understand how the numbers are affected by the symbols "+", "-","x", or "/". When the results for the math exams came out, a teacher came up to me and asked me, "Are you Rizal". I said, yes. Then she asked, "Betulker awak yang dapat markah penuh?" (Is it true that you got full marks?". I said I don't know, cause the results was not out yet. She said only two people got a 100 in the whole school, and then she asked me if I had copied the other chinese student(lets say Siew Yen) and where was I sitting at that time. Confuse by her remarks, I just told her I don't know any Siew Yen in my class. Then she realized that I was from a different class. She asked me again, "what is your classroom name?". I told her it was 3 Merah. She was shocked. I was from the worst class of standard 3, and yet I got a 100. Disbelief, she told me, "You are lucky".

I was hurt, cause it had nothing to do with luck. At least not for my math exams. For the other papers that would require me to read, it was pure luck. Even though I didn't know how to read, I have always managed to get around 50%, and that is what I call luck. Luck is when I was still able to write a few sentences to answer a question without knowing how to read. Luck is being able to infer what the questions were from pictures and diagrams and select similar words from other parts of the exam papers that would help my inferences. Luck is the ability to select a few random words from the paper itself, reorder them to look something that looks like an answer and got it half right. Of course more than half of the time, i wrote nonsense. But nobody suspected that I didn't know how to read. They just thought I was stupid.

But when I was discredited for something I was good at, I was hurt. In math, everything was clear to me, and it was definitely not luck. I knew every single question and knew how to answer them. It was just sad that a teacher who was suppose to encourage me, choose to discredit me instead. If she had investigated further, she would have found out that I suffered minor dyslexia.

Lucky for me, mom was a better teacher. I went home with all my exams papers graded. Though most of them were with bad grades, she was nonetheless proud of my 100 in math. She wondered why my answers doesn't make any sense for the other papers. It'a as if I was answering something totally different. It is as if, I purposely wrote something wrong. It is as if I didn't understand the question at all. She then investigated my weaknesses and came up with a theory of her own. Her theory was that I was bad at reading. She tested her theory by forcing me to read out loud the questions in my exam papers. She was surprised to find out that I could not read at all. Not a single word. I remembered, mom saying, "Don't tell me you don't know how to read. Do you really don't know how to read? or are you refusing to read". I remember her scolding me, shouting, "READ JOEY, READ.....what does that say....", and I just mumbled, refusing to show my handicap in reading cause both of my sisters were such good readers. They were reading novels by the time they were 8.

Of course when she realized that I couldn't read at all, she was disappointed. But it was an "Aha" moment for her. She was just amazed that I could still write some nonsense down without even knowing how to read. Lucky for me, mom wasted no time. She rolled up her sleeve and spent the next few weeks teaching me how to read.

Today, I can write though still hate reading. Some even say that I'm not such a bad writer. Well, thank you mom. Without you, I would still be playings crayons drawing pictographs in my room.

More stories to come later.....about historical past.