Monday, September 12, 2016

Reminiscing on Form 5 essays

So last night my student showed me his SPM trials English paper, while he went on to work on his Add Math exercises. 

English Paper 1 had always gotten me excited during exams, because that's about the only paper that I can confidently sit for without worrying if I'd answered well enough, or scored enough correct answers to earn myself an A. And while I have no problem writing my opinions on whether if it is a good choice to learn Math and Science in English, or what I think can be done to reduce obesity among our youths today, what I really wanted to do was to answer the last question: the question that asks me to write a story based on a given beginning/ending.

So I read through the questions on my student's essay paper, and immediately zoomed in to the story-writing question: 'Write an essay of about 350 words. Please start your essay with "When I saw tears in his eyes, I knew he had realized his foolishness..."'

It got me excited, and immediately I pulled out a piece of foolscap paper and began writing while my student completes the exercises I've given to him. Of course, I might have exceeded 350 words a little, but I can't help it when I have so many ideas to pen down. So here's me story based on the title:

When I saw tears in his eyes, I knew he had realized his foolishness. Tom has never been the kind of person who plans ahead before deciding to do anything. Not only that, he has to be the most stubborn person that I'd known throughout my whole life. I guess this time his destructive personality has really gotten him into deep trouble. Nothing can be done to bring those lifeless little paws back to life now.

Tom has always pride himself for being the independent one in the family -- He could cook himself a meal when he was a mere child of 5. Then, he started earning some pocket money here and there by helping the neighborhood adults to run some small errands and help out with some house chores. Well, nobody could expect otherwise from an orphaned little boy who lives with his grandparents. Life was not easy, and every little dime and quarter helps in the small household of three.

When his grandfather died, the two remaining family members were in distraught. In fact, Tom's grandmother was so wrapped up in grief that she was bedridden within the same week his grandfather was buried and passed away soon after that, leaving the then 15-year old teenage boy to fend for his life. By then, Tom had accepted his fate that life will always be tough for him, until one day a lost little puppy discovered the boy and followed him home. 'Maybe God isn't so cruel after all,' Tom thought, as he watched the little fur-ball licking her small bowl of milk that Tom had placed on the floor in front of her. A companion was what he needed; someone he can call his family. Sunshine, he named her, and  she stayed by his side ever since that faithful day. He would even let her followed him to school. The staff at school were not happy to see a dog roaming around the school grounds at first, but eventually gave in to the little pup's friendliness and let her stay at the guardhouse while Tom went up to his class.

He took care of her like any father would take care of his child. It had become an instinct for Tom to care for others, as he had to take care of his two grandparents back when they were alive. Patient, tender and protective, nobody could have been more dedicated as an owner to Sunshine than Tom. They became each other's pillar of strength, and as Sunshine grew and matured into a loyal and faithful dog, Tom grew up to be a fiercely independent and spirited young man. There isn't anything in the world that could break his spirit, because Sunshine was always there to comfort him. She would know when Tom was stressed or when he was feeling down, and she would lay by his feet and be by his side to provide any form of help or comfort so he could feel better.

No stronger bond had been forged like the one Tom and Sunshine had. He always know what Sunshine needed and made sure to provide her the best that he could afford. However, because Sunshine was born with asthma, it's a struggle for Tom to save up enough money to treat her ailment sometimes. So over the years, Tom had researched and studied about her condition so much that he could differentiate between serious and mild asthma attacks when Sunshine had them, and even learnt up some home remedies so he could treat her himself rather than sending her to the vet.

One day, Sunshine was playing in the field outside of their home when she had an attack. My friends and I, who were on site, saw what happened and tried to coax her back home to Tom, and finally resorted to carrying her home when she refused to move as she was wheezing and struggling to breathe. Tom immediately dashed into the kitchen to get the herbal medicine he had kept in his pantry when he saw us carrying his sick dog up to his front door. He tried to coax Sunshine to take a few sips of the medicine as soon as we placed her down, which she did with much hardship. She then laid down and fell fast asleep. However, occasionally, she would twitch a little.

"Is this normal?" I asked.
"Yes, yes, she does this sometimes," he answered as he stormed off into the bedroom.
"Doesn't look normal to me. Should you bring her to the vet instead?" I asked again. She looked like she's struggling really badly to catch a breath. It seemed to me that his medicine did not work on her at all.
"No! Now get lost and let my dog rest!" he shouted furiously.

Reluctantly, we left Tom and Sunshine and returned to our respective homes. It wasn't until much later that Tom finally decided to bring her to the vet, when she was twitching profusely, as if she was having a seizure. He carried Sunshine in his arms and came banging on my door, asking for my help to drive them down to the vet.

When we arrived, he rushed into the clinic, right into the doctor's office without registering themselves first. It was only then when I found out the main reason of why Tom refused to send Sunshine here at first notice when I heard him begging the doctor to save her: He could not afford to pay for her medical bill. He was let go at work a few months ago and couldn't find any available job on the market that he could apply for. With his savings drying up faster than the desert sucking up moisture from the air, he had been struggling to pay for everything and put food on the table. 

The doctor tried his best to do whatever he could, but it was too late. With a final twitch and one last glance on her beloved owner, her eyes rolled upwards and her body fell limp. I walked up to Tom, feeling nothing but regret and disappointment on how things turned out.

"You should've told me, I would've been willing to help. Even if we're mere neighborhood acquaintances. Sunshine is my friend too," I said.

He nodded, tears streaming down his cheeks as he clung on to his lifeless companion for one last time.

For more stories I've written previously, click here.