Thursday, 1 October 2009

Candle 29: Lucy Low (Leng Ah Mooi)

I was thrilled to hear from Lucy Low this week. She was the School Captain in 1962 and writes to us from Sydney. Lucy's a little shy about sharing a photo but we're still honoured to share her heart-felt memories.

They say time is never an issue when you retire. I am well into my first year of retirement and time is still an issue. God works in mysterious ways. It took a severe dust storm, brought in by strong winds from the Australian dessert, to restrict me to housebound activities in Sydney. What else was there to do except to wait for it to settle before one could start the clean up. This is one of those very rare moments that I found time to Google and stumbled on the BBGS blogs. What nostalgia and memories when I found myself listed in the Honour list of captains (1962)! Very nice and very satisfying ….. I wonder whether my adult sons and grand children can find me in the list ….

I started in BBGS Afternoon School and Mrs Siew was my teacher and companion then! Lucky for me, Mrs Siew was newly married then and she absolutely loved kids! She was only a few blocks away from me in busy KL city and shopping was her favourite past time. Guess that was the start of my passion for chocolates and ice creams as my mother could not have possibly afforded them. Then it was BBGS morning school followed by the secondary school. There were so many teachers; each moulding my humourous as well as my serious nature. Their dedication and determination in spite of their pidgin English (one Chinese educated Science/Maths teacher), their loud abusing voices, their threatening fingers/rulers, their softness, were so very inspiring and left such an impression on me. I am so sure my genetic make up must have taken such a bashing from that inspiration to remain even to this day albeit the energy level now is fast gaining speed. Thank you BBGS teachers and thank the Lord for exposing me to them.

Life in BBGS could not miss a mention to our beloved Miss Elena Cooke. She played a very important role in my younger days which contributed to a very significant part of adult me. Many knew Miss Cooke as determined, disciplined, detailed minded, and a no nonsense head mistress. But, she was a lot more and is best described in the crude poem (I was not known for my English language, let alone for my poetic skills!) I wrote in 2008 to amuse her when I discovered that she was sick. The ‘never give up’ attitude I learnt from her and her team of teachers rose onto my shoulders with the end result being a rough and tumble gathering of words:

BBGS, here we go …..

Our beloved school of old

History, geography, maths and all

But nothing beats the lessons from Gospel Hall.

Praise to the Lord, we sang and sang

Words never failing, our ears rang and rang

Eternal love and wisdom our Almighty Lord provides

Lessons from BBGS, we always carry on our sides.

Parents taught us home values and all

Life skills and success we proudly stand tall

Sources of such skills, not from books

Definitely from parents from Miss Cooke.

Our love, gratitude, and appreciation

To you, Miss Cooke, and to mention

Your lessons demonstrated in our ways

Our prayers to the Lord for you always.

I share a few incidents with you to bring home the true Miss Cooke with the intention to illustrate the life lessons we all learnt from her. Those ‘bee-hive’ hair styles in the 1960s sure kept me very busy and challenged as a school captain. They were a total ban from school and one of my responsibilities was to execute that ban! Most girls knew the consequences if they did not lower those bee-hives except for one student. Wow, that defiance was amazing and amusing too! She ended up with a self hair wash in Miss Cooke’s office basin! Mistake to take Miss Cooke on …… That was the Miss Cooke most of us could relate to.

Then, one day, I was abruptly called into her office and was told “I need you to come with me to translate”. We were off to a very sick student’s home to visit not the sick student (she was in hospital) but to see the grand mother who blatantly refused to give permission for the grand daughter to undergo surgery to save her life. There was this old Chinese thing about being cut up (surgery). The visit was very short, but boy, was it effectively and humanely executed! Miss Cooke was literally on her knees begging the grand mother to give that permission for surgery as that was the only slim chance her grand daughter could live. I still have not learnt tears control from that incident!

The last memorable gratifying incident I like to relate had to do with me personally. Miss Cooke signed for me as my ‘financial guarantor’ to the Australian Embassy when none of my poor relatives could do so, to enable me to pursue my tertiary education without any request from me as no one would have asked a head mistress to act as ‘financial guarantor’ (she had independently discovered my difficulty). There were endless stories to do her justice but that could fill the whole book. The words in the poem above were truly heart felt and expressed in the best way I could to reflect what BBGS and Miss Cooke and her team have done to contribute significantly in my life journey.

This tribute to BBGS and Miss Cooke is not complete without a mention of Mrs Simon (Miss Junie Lim). Her dedication to the Girl Guides is definitely unquestionable – I just found out that she is still currently the State Commissioner – she must be in her 70s? I take a humble bow with my hat off to you, Mrs Simon and if anyone reading this has her email address, I will certainly appreciate you forwarding it to me. Believe me, the Girl Guides principles were excellent foundation to build life skills. Go for it girls if you have daughters, grand daughters, and/or great grand daughters, especially when you still have Mrs Simon as the State Commissioner. There is absolutely nothing to lose but heaps to gain!

Lastly, just a brief mention about me as requested. I have finally thrown in the towel after a fairly successful and very busy work and home life both in KL and Sydney (mainly the latter since 1981). I managed to raise 3 independent boys (sometimes too independent, as one of them had escaped from me, and is working in Hong Kong) and blessed with 3 grandchildren. Thank you Lord and thank you Miss Cooke and her team of 1962 teachers from BBGS.

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