I was born in 1964 to a lower middle class family on the island of Pangkor. My
parents were fisher folk and we had a trawler that we used to
eke out a living in the Straits of Malacca.
I had four older siblings, all girls-my parents tried for children until they
had a boy. I was to take over the family business when I came of age.
was no luxurious but adequate. I had a chance to go to school at the small Tamil
school on the island. the island was predominantly Chinese, most of whom were
well off. Days were spent either helping dad land his catch or indulging in idle
play with my friends, exploring the island.
Fortunately for me, the Headmaster at the
school, Encik Dollah, was a visionary. He worked
tirelessly with the small group of dedicated teachers
to inculcate the love for learning among the island
children. There was a small library at the clan
association on the island that supplemented my
voracious appetite for reading. Meanwhile, my dad
worked hard to put food on the table. When I went
to secondary school I found that my love for Maths
and Science paid off. I was the top student in the
school and my sisters had also excelled in their
One of my sisters had opted to become a teacher
while two went on to study Maths at a local
university. The youngest decided to get married to a
local businessman and settle down. She ran her own
successful hair salon after a stint in Lumut as an
apprentice at a salon. I was the last to finish school
and managed to score straight As in the SPM.
I had to go to Ipoh to study for my A levels at a
college. A kind aunt took me in. My dad was
already struggling to meet his obligations to my
sisters. I decided to work part-time to supplement
my expenses and managed to get a place in the
National University of Singapore to study marine
engineering. Soon I found myself as a graduate
looking for a job. I landed a prestigious position
and am currently pursuing a Master's degree. Mum
and dad lead a much more comfortable life and my
sisters are all happily married. Thinking on my past,
this made me realise how wonderful my life is.