Pak Rashid

I wanted to share something I have never shared with anyone before.

I’ve been thinking about my grandfather a lot the last few days. Someone wrote a bio on him that is going to be launched soon and that started a trip down memory lane

When I was 14 years old I was sent to school in the UK. I was a shy boy anyway but being in a foreign land on my own and being different from the rest wasn’t easy.

I had a tough time adjusting and the first few months was terrible. I remember calling and writing to my mother telling her how much I hated being away and that I wanted to go back home.

One day I received a letter sent from Malaysia.

It was from my Grandfather. I will never forget how he addressed me – ‘Cucu Yang disayangi Reza’ (my beloved grandson Reza).

He told me that my mother had told him about the difficulties I was facing. He told me that I should be proud of who I am and where I came from. He also wrote that we will always face challenges and difficulties in life and that we shouldn’t run away or give up.

He said that he believed in me and that he knows how tough I truly am. He also said that whatever happens, he knows I will be all right.

I was so shaken by what he wrote. Nobody ever spoke to me like that before. He didn’t speak to me like I was a frightened young boy and he didn’t treat me like I needed to be rescued or saved. He treated me like a young man and from that moment on, I never ran away and I never quit anything.

His words still guides me now whenever I face difficulties or challenges.

He passed away a few months after that.

I never got a chance to tell him how much his words meant to me.

If you speak to his former students (and probably any of his children), the one universal opinion was how how strict and ‘garang’ he was.

He was never that to me or to any of my cousins. He was accommodating and loving in the way he treated us that I sometimes I think we’re talking about a different person.

I am now happy to inherit his intolerance for mediocrity and nonsense and his belief that anything is possible if you’re willing to work hard enough for it.

I miss him dearly and I wish I had learnt more things from him.

Ps

I wasn’t going to share this but what the heck.

A few months after I got the letter, I went back to KL for the school break. I couldn’t wait to see my Grandfather and talk to him about everything. But the day after I arrived, my mother broke the news to me that he had passed away a few weeks earlier. Though I was taken to his grave a few days after that I never really got a chance to mourn his death. I didn’t feel losing him the way I felt the loss of my parents. Though I understood why my parents chose to keep it from me, I wished that they didn’t and I think my Grandfather would have told them I would be ok with the news.

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