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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Transfer Back To Kuching

That day, he went to the library. J, the school librarian, glanced up from her table and saw him. J said he looked like he was looking for something. But since he did not say a word, J too, did not greet him nor talk to him. That was the last time J saw him alive.

He waved to everyone that Friday afternoon as he drove off. It was as if he was saying goodbye. Many of my colleagues related this fact to me.

How did I manage to get transferred back to Kuching? It's all because of this tragic incident. 

***

Well, I knew Jimmy. He was my junior at college. We were enrolled in different programmes though - I twinned with NZ while he with UK. But he was a pretty friendly and popular guy ... so who wouldn't know him, right?

Then over the years, we've met at various courses from time to time. Eventually, he was supervising the MUET speaking exams in the northern division. So he would drive over to Miri from Bintulu during exam seasons .... and sometimes I'd bump into him when he came to my school to do the moderation.

***

Starting 2011, I began to apply for transfer back to Kuching. I was tired of being alone in Miri, far away from my family. However, my P never approved of my transfer. He'd always written "Tidak disokong kerana perkhidmatan masih diperlukan." Well, I'd like to think that I was so efficient that he could not do without me. But then, nobody was indispensible in school. People came and go. It was just inevitable.

So late in 2013 when I applied for transfer for yet another time, my P finally approved it. I was over the moon. Though it did not mean that I would be guaranteed a transfer, it gave me a chance to be considered. Though I did not know it at the time, my P himself was planning on his own transfer. What I did not know was that he had applied to become a SISC+ - a School Improvement Specialist Coach, and stood a good chance of getting the position.

If everything went as planned, he himself would be leaving the following year (2014). So I guessed that he reasoned that if he was leaving, then it would be alright for me to leave as well. Because then, he would no longer need my assistance in the school.

However, that year in 2013, there was no vacancy in Kuching for me. I was an appointed Form 6 teacher, and I could only fill in posts in schools where there were Form 6 classes. I absolutely had no way of getting my transfer unless there was a vacancy. I was disappointed but I vowed to try again the following year. 

***

14 February 2014. Valentine's Day. Friday. At our weekly meeting, my P announced that he was leaving the school. He had officially been appointed SISC+. Though I was happy that he got that coveted position, I was also feeling quite sad. P was a slave driver. P was demanding. P was impatient. But I had enjoyed working with him for 6 years, and I had learned so much from him. I looked up to him and respected him so much.

I also cringed at the thought of starting all over again with a new P. New P, new style of management. New temperaments to get used to. New set of rules to learn. Sigh. It made me feel so tired. I was demotivated.

I also remembered that day vividly because on that day, as I left the school, my car tyre punctured. I was already at the gate of my school when the school clerk alerted me. I drove back into the school compound and seeked help from 2 of my colleagues -  J & C. My knights in shining armour. They were so kind. They changed the tyre for me and brought me to the tyre shop to get the tube replaced. I was glad that I could even make it in time to the neighbouring school to support my students in a friendly football match at afternoon .....

But since that day, I was feeling bleak. I contemplated whether I should appeal for transfer the whole weekend.

***

16 February 2014. Sunday. I remembered rolling around in my bed that morning and feeling extremely restless. Appeal. Don't appeal. But thoughts of having to work with another new P was really very unwelcoming. I was also really afraid that I would be reluctant to leave once I got used to the new P. Then, it would take a few year more before I could make it back to Kuching.

In the end, I fired up the computer and actually started drafting my appeal letter. In BM. It read funny as I was not accustomed to write in BM. I got irritated. So I gave up halfway.

I was quite desperate when I contacted AT, and asked him to accompany me for a drink. He obliged and we went to Permaisuri Imperial City Mall. I tasked AT whether I should appeal for my transfer. He did not think I was serious about it though. He even joked that he could get a few muscular tattooed fellows to wreak havoc at the Education Department so that my transfer would get approved. Lol. 

Then all of the sudden, I received a text message from a colleague, S, informing me of Jimmy's passing. I gasped out loud covering my mouth. AT asked me what was wrong. We both pondered about how fragile life was.

Then, a thought crept into my mind ... so now there was vacancy. In Kuching. Jimmy, my friend. Jimmy, who taught the same subject as I was. 

***

17 February 2014. Monday. My colleague, NL and I were both keen to appeal for our transfer.  NL was also an appointed Form 6 teacher. It was just as difficult for her to get her transfer as it was for me to get mine.  We both consulted our Senior Assistance as whether we should write an appeal. He thought it was the best thing to do. I wrote and re-wrote my letter and finally came up with the final draft. 

***

18 February 2014. Tuesday. I went to see my P, showed him my appeal letter. He was a bit surprised that I wanted to appeal my transfer, but he signed them. 

***

21 February 2014. Friday. Both NL and my appeal letters got sent off to Kuching. The wait begun. 

***

3 March 2014. My P's last day in school. We had a special assembly and then sent him off. We were without a P and waiting for a replacement. 

***

The officer in-charge of transfers called my school. He asked about the number of Form 6 teachers there were at my school. There were only 3 - A, NL and me. Then he presented me with a situation - if NL and I got successfully transferred out of the school, there would only be 1 Form 6 teacher left. It was a no-no.

Therefore, to solve the problem, he asked me to nominate teachers who were already teaching Form 6 to be appointed as Form 6 teachers. I should also nominate someone to hold my post SHOULD I be transferred out.

I was excited. I knew I stood a good chance to be transferred back to Kuching. But I did not dare to ask him too much , i.e. what were my chances, which school I would be going to, when would I know the results.

In the meantime, I discussed with my Senior Assistant about the personnel to appoint and did the paperwork. I nominated all qualified teachers from my school to be appointed as Form 6 teachers within the next few days. I also nominated B, the current Humanities Panel Head, to take over my post as the Senior Assistant for Form 6. 

***

31 March 2014. Monday. It was the first day of school after the mid-term break. I had just came back from KL the day before. It as a usual day at work and I was just doing some paperwork as per usual.

I was in my office. Then M, my Senior Assistant came in. "Congratulations," he said, extending his hand to me. Don't kid me around, I replied. He insisted that my transfer letter was in the school admin office. I did not believe him. But then, I asked, "Is it St. Joseph's?"

Indeed it was. I was to transfer effective 16 April 2014. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe the tragic circumstances which had to occur for me to get my transfer back to Kuching ...

That night, AT celebrated with me .. we went to Marriott Hotel to have a cuppa .... my treat! :))

***

I started giving away my things and packing .... AT helped me so much, supplying me with boxes, and even helping me to pack, and arranging for my things to be sent back to Kuching. After I emptied my room, he even let me put up at his house for an entire week ...

He let me stay in the main bedroom which was more comfy, while he used the guest room. When he was away in Bintulu for work for a few days, he trusted me enough to let me stay alone in HIS house. 

***

13 April 2014. AT and I drove home to Kuching in my car .... told him to help me get a trailer. But he said he'd drive. 

*** 

15 April 2014. I was on leave. But I went to report myself at my new school. The P was not there, so the senior assistant received me. I was to resume all of Jimmy's duties. I was shown around and introduced to the teachers.

***

16 April 2014. It was exactly 2 months after Jimmy's death.  I officially began my work at my new school. 

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