Friday, September 26, 2008

English 201

Years ago, well, once upon time, I wanted to become a scientist. This only came about only after I had enrolled into UW-Madison, in the Chemistry course. I decided to do professional chemistry which required me to take the intermediate level of English Composition. I guess to prepare us for the scientific papers that we're supposed to write later in our life. So I took English 201.
The course actually make us write from a given theme and then work in a group to improve the writing. The team will comment on what we wrote, facilitated by the lecturer and then we make the 2nd and then the 3rd draft before we finally submitted the final draft.

This is my group - I can't remember any of their names anymore

Well, while unpacking (yeah, after 2 years moving in to this house,still not done unpack!), I found a piece of what I had written and I thought of "documenting" it here. It's kind like a little chunck of my life - of course with a little bit of salt and sugar added on here an there to make it more interesting to read. This was the year my father passed away - while I was still in the US....

Wan Sabrina Wan Mohamad
English 201
Debra Bernardi

Dreams to Dreams
"Dad! I'm back! I got the result. Here!" With bright smile Sabrina gave her father a piece of paper that stated her Lower Examination Certificate of Education's (LCE) result. After months of slaving herself with books, reviewing her last three years of school work for the national exam, she finally made it.
"My teacher said I've got the best result in the whole school." She announced proudly to her father, looking at him with hopes in her bright eyes. Sure enough, she caught a gleam of proud light in his eyes and a sly but satisfactory smile forming in her father's lips.
"Isn't it great? Now, can I apply to that boarding school? Can I?" Smilingly, her father replied,
"Sure Nina, whatever you want. Looks like I'm not gonna see much of you anymore, huh! Nina..." He started to sound serious suddenly. "Don't ever stop studying when you get the chance to. I want to see at least one of my seven children go to university and get a degree. You know what your uncle had been insinuating how educate our family is. Show him that our family is not as dumb as he think we are. Get the highest education that you can get. You're my last hope since none of your brothers and sisters were lucky enough to enter the university and I really want you to be successful in your studies and career for me, our family, and most importantly, for yourself."
"Yes daddy, I understand, I'll try my best."
Even though she told her father that she would try her best, Sabrina was not really serious with her pledge. All that she could think of at that moment was, now that she got a very good result, she was positive that she would be accepted to one of the best science of technical school in the country. She dreamed of going to the school since she was twelve years old. She wanted to make new friends and experienced living outside her home. At fifteen, she wasn't serious about her future. She studied because it was fun to do so and it made her feel special to be the top student in her class. And now, she thought, it would be more fun and challenging to study in a group and live without depending on her parents. Not once, did she think that she would get the best chances of going to university if she got accepted to the boarding school, as her father had hoped that she would.
"Twenty? Is this the best that you can do? You got all As in your LCE. What did you do this time? Nina, Nina.....I thought when I sent you to that technical school, you'll get better results for this exam and better chances of going to university. Now..."
Before her father could finish his sentence, Sabrina interrupted him. "But daddy, it's still a good grade and my teacher said so too."
"Yes! But this is not your best effort! C'mon Sabrina, you know you can do better than this! If only I..."
Sabrina couldn't bear to hear more from her disappointed father, especially when her father started calling her 'Sabrina'. She knew she didn't give it her best shot for the cumulative national exam. This exam, although consists of only two final years of her schoolwork, was much harder than the last one. She didn't study as hard as before because she had too much fun going out to the city and cruising the island on the island's ferry every Saturday. She had what she wanted when she was acceptd to the technical school. She didn't think that she should study very hard because she didn't really want to go to university although her father wanted and hoped that she would. Instead, she went outing every Saturday that she was allowed to because she couldn't stand being confined in the dorm every day without freedom. Dorm life was not as fun as she thought it would be.
And now, hearing her father's disappointment, she didn't want to crush his hopes more by telling him the truth about not wanting to go to university. This two years of living apart had really been good to her relationship with her family, especially with her father. Their relationshop had turned more towards friendship because now, she wasn't considered as a child anymore. She didn't want to spoil her new found friendship with her father, so instead of telling the truth, she told him, "Don't worry dad. Although I didn't do as good as I should, I'm still qualified to enter one of the local universities" She then added silently to herself, "And this time, I won't repeat the same mistake. I will do my very best. I won't disappoint you again. I'll study for you, daddy." She vowed to herself to get the best education. She would try her best so that she wouldn't hear her father's disappointment anymore. And she would try to fulfill his hopes and dreams.
"Nina, take care of yourself. Don't forget to write."
"Sabrina, remember that you're alone in America, take good care of yourself and don't do anything that will shame your family and our country."
"Bye Sis! Don't forget to bring me presents when you come back!"
"Me too!" Everyone seemed to be talking all at once to her as her sponsor's officer was calling every students to get into the briefing area for final instruction before their departure.
"Mom, Dad, I have to go now. I'll miss you all very much. You will come to my graduation, won't you?"
Smiling, her father replied to that by saying, "Nina, can't you see that I'm not as strong as I used to be? What make you think that I'll still be here when you graduate?" He made his comment lightly.
"Oh daddy...!"
"Don't worry dear, we'll be there. Your dad wasn't serious about not being there. Don't forget your family wherever you are." Tears flow on her mother's cheek as she was saying goodbye, even though she was smiling. Sabrina saw her father's grim face and noticed that there was a drop of teat near his left eye. She said her goodbye and kissed their hands in a hurry and left with her luggage to join her friends for final instruction from the officer.
"I won't forget, mom, dad, I won't! I promise! This time, I'm gonna make it. I was one of the best students in the program, wasn't I? And I will give it my best effort in America, just for you. It'll be my gift to you for all the things that you've done for me." She renewed her pledge with determination as she stepped into the Boeing 747 that would bring her to America to pursue her degree.
She still couldn't believe that she was going to America finally. A lot of her other friends in the program didn't make it. She never thought that she would have to go thousands of miles away to fulfull her father's wishes. When she received the college scholarship offer to enter the two years program and then transferred to a university in America, from the Public Services Department, she couldn't decide whether to accept it or not. But when her application to study at the best local university was rejected, she decided to accept the offer. And so, this time, it was not only her parents' hope that she carried but also her sponsor's, who is paying for her education. She promised to herself that her parents would see her graduate and she would study as hard as she could to make her parents' hope and dreams become a reality. And she would show her uncle that her family is not as dumb as he thought.
She was exhausted by the time she reached her apartment. At last! She was done with her lab work and now, there were only reports and a quiz left. " I can relax a little. This summer has been a torture. But I still have to study. I have German exam tomorrow." She said to herself. Just as she was about to put her head on the pillow, the phone rang.
"Sabrina, how are you?"
"A little tired. I just came back from my lab."
"Sabrina, I'm sorry to say this but I think you should call home. Your father..."
"No! No...not my father. What's wrong with my father?" Her heart beat faster as soon as she heard her friend mentioned home and her father. She knew there was something terrible happening. It's just like a deja vu. She'd been getting the dreams of not being able to talk to her father since last week. But when she called home, everything was fine in fact, her father went on a trip with her mother to their home village.
"My sister-in-law just called me. I was worried too because she never called me before. They can't find your number, so my sister-in-law called me instead. She said your father has passed away this morning and she wanted you to call home immediately."
As soon as she hang up the phone, she dialed her mother's number. Tears were blinding her eyesight as she dialed the number. "God, please let it not be true. I haven't graduated yet. He got to see graduate! He just got to!"
"Mom! What happened?"
"Dad. He's gone...Take care of yourself. Bear in mind that you don't have a father anymore. Study hard, don'f fail him." "God! What was she talking about? Father just passed away. How could she talked about studying at this time?" Sabrina thought to herself. Her mother's words weren't very clear because the line was bad and she was crying while she talked.
She took a deep breath and asked her mother, "How did it happen, mom? Was he sick?"
"No, he wasn't sick at all. He woke up around two this morning and ask for a drink of water. When he got the glass, he dropped it and say that he's going to die and then he felled. I don't even know if he got to drink it at all. I called your sister immediately after that." She must have been in shock to talk so rationally. It has been four hours. She must have been rehashing the tragedy over and over again.
"Mom, I'll call you back tonight. It's very expensive right now and the line wasn't good. Take care."
As soon as she put down the phone, she doubled over and burst into tears until her pillow was soaked. She just couldn't stop. Whenever she starts thinking about father, tears just flowed down her cheek instantly. She can't believe this was happening. Her father was healthy. He wasn't sick even though he smoked regularly. And when she called home, everything was fine. What made her even sadder was that she didn't get to talk to her father for almost two months because every time she called home he was out. And the next thing she knew, he was gone.
A sense of lost feeling came over her. "I've go to keep him on my mind. And the only thing that's left now, was his dream and hope of me." Yes, she would make it happen. She was determined more than ever now, to make her father's dream into a reality. She would keep her father's memory alive in her heart by making his dream become hers. Starting at that moment, a new course of life had taken over her. She wanted to get her education for her father and herself. She would graduate and be successful in her career. She could still remember her father saying proudly to his friend that his daughter is going to be a chemist, a scientist.
"When I come home daddy, I'll go straight to your grave with my success. You'll be the first I visit when I got home. It'll be the same as before, you'll always be the first to see my result even though you're gone now." As she talked to herself, she realized now that she wouldn't hear 'Nina' being referred to her anymore, because nobody except her father called her 'Nina'. The only person ever called her lovingly was gone.
---the end---'s not as melancholy as it was meant to be. Of course, I would have written it differently now compared to when I was still in school:-) This is for the grade and to suit the Americans readers who supposed to comment on this paper. i got an AB for this course. Not bad, for someone who couldn't really put her thoughts on paper coherently, I guess.
Note: the @@@ indicate years pass by

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