On the 1st December, that's a Monday, I had a lunch appointment with my ex Primary School teacher, Miss Chua SC. She was my form teacher for two years when I was studying in Bartley Primary School in the early 1970s. Miss Chua was a very dedicated teacher. Though she only teaches us English and Arts, she does it with so much passion and joy. As her student, I immensely enjoyed going to school everyday and meeting her too.
She would greet us with a wide smile, literally smiling cheek to cheek. She never frowns and hardly ever gets upset or angry. Even after leaving Primary school, I have always kept in contact with Miss Chua. Till today, I still call her once in awhile. And when technology advances, computers and emails are a common form of communication, I will write to her via email. Before, it was often a phone call or a greeting card mailed to her home.
For years, I kept in contact with her. She watched me grew up from a little girl to a young woman and heard from me about falling in love and finding love in all the right places. When I had Natasha, Miss Chua send me all her well wishes. She became more of a good friend I had over the years.
So when we met for lunch on Monday, she ask me this:
"Woon Ting(that's the name she knew me for..!), why am I so special to you?"
I paused...and really wondered. Come to think of it, I never gave much thought to that. I am literally speechless and went on with the 'umm..errs, mumm..."
Finally, I said this :
"Miss Chua, for your lovely stories and your art classes. I loved the way you tell us stories. And the way you teach Art. And many years down the way, I learnt to tell stories like you did and taught Art to my children the way you did too. You have been an inspiration to me. And I am most thankful"
Miss Chua told one story that make me cry as a child. Its the story of Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde. I will always remember the way she told it to us that day in my primary school days. The way she related the story, how the Prince wept and how he told his story to the swallow that stayed with him. I remember going home telling my mother about the Happy Prince. And with each story telling session we had, I would go home and translated it to Mandarin and tell my mom the story too.
Later, my dad went and bought the story book of the Happy Prince. The book was bilingual so that my mom could read the story too.
Many years later, when my niece was born, I retold the story of the Happy Prince to her. It jotted many wonderful and bittersweet memories. Of someone who used to tell us stories that teaches us to be good children, gave us good moral values and how contented we must be in this life we have.
In so many ways, when I think about good teachers like Miss Chua, I would like to think she was that old Christian song that goes like this:
Make me a servant, humble and meek
Lord, let me lift up those who are weak
And may the prayer of my heart always be
Make me a servant today
Miss Chua, a servant, humble and meek, she gave me so much more than she ever knew she did. She taught, she gave, she serves and she loves every child she taught in her class.
Thank God for Teachers who dares to make a difference in a child's life.