Friday, 17 June 2011

Happy Fathers' Day, Abah!


When I was a young child, my Abah was always away from home -- at university doing his first degree when he was already a working adult, and later at Stanford University doing his Masters (we, the family, was with hime at that time). He was constantly away doing this research and that research throughout his career in the education field. I would like to think a lot of my love for learning, writing and curiosity comes from him (and wanderlust definitely from Mak!)

So, after many years of retirement, it was no surprise that Abah at 69 last year took the decision to pursue a PhD. Not only at any university but online Asia e University (AeU)., dual-mode multinational university. His area of study centering on something very close to his heart - loosely described: something on the management of public schools in Malaysia. AeU had a scheme for senior citizens and he was raring to go. With his love affair with the Internet and passion for the topic, it was fantastic to see him "come alive" again.

But now, some months down the road, Abah is at a crossroad.. he has second thoughts to continue with his new adventure. Not because of the hard work that entails such a project but rather because of the bewildering mobile broadband service that is hampering the process. Time and again he would call us the children to help him out with the erratic connections and the complexities of getting customer service to respond.

He had earlier on terminated the fixed broadband service he had at home because of its inconsistency and went on mobile broadband (courtesy of my SIL, Kak Lili). But mobile wasn't really working for him either. Whenever he had broadband problems, he would call up the service centre and would convey his grievance to the person on duty. But more often than not, such agents launch into geek speak that bewildered and frustrated Abah. And they were constantly telling him in the consultations, could he please get somebody who could understand what they were saying. Clearly they were talking down to him and seem to be thinking that he was some helpless and illiterate senior citizen.

So, slowly, the fire in him is getting snuffed out -- thanks to the competencies of these customer service aka helpline agents. If online learning creates opportunities for continued learning, online communications service is clearly something else.

My Abah has been quiet this past few weeks - mulling his options on whether to continue with the course or not. I know he doesn't want to throw in the towel and he doesn't want to accept defeat. But the challenge technical-wise is proving to be a bit much for him. Members of his family are all proud of him for having even the courage to embark on the initiative. And for us, it is not a sign of failure should he decide to discontinue. I hope he sees it like that too..

Whatever you decide, I'm behind you 100 per cent, Abah. Your courage, dedication  tenacity and lust for life is something I hope to emulate and take with me wherever I may land in life. Obstacles and roadblocks do not make you a lesser person. And shame on us younger ones who think that of an older person.

I wish you many more adventures in the coming years and I hope to continue to share them with you. Happy Fathers" Day, Abah!

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