I knew that I had done the right thing, but it gave me no pleasure. I could tell
myself a thousand times that I had warned him of the consequences and he had
refused to listen, but to no avail. The terrible guilt that I felt did not tell
me that I was right. I could not look him in the eye, not after telling the
teacher that my best friend had cheated in the examination.
Awangku had been
my best friend since we were in kindergarten. We shared the most wonderful
memories of playing in the mud and learning our alphabet. If I erased him from
my memories, there would be a huge void that cannot be filled. Yet, I had
single-handedly destroyed his future.
Awangku had always been an outstanding student and athlete. In fact, he was
in the running this year for a scholarship awarded only to the best all-round
student. It was an honor that would ensure the awardee's entry into an elite
college as well as an all-expenses-paid education. Although Awangku's family was
relatively well-to-do, he still coveted the scholarship because it was a
prestigious way to cover his secondary school education.
But all his dreams were destroyed in one fell stroke when his father was
killed in a tragic hit-and run accident. His entire future was thrown into
jeopardy as his father had been the sole breadwinner. His anguished mother fell
gravely ill as she could not cope with the loss. With no income forthcoming as
they had few relatives willing to help, Awangku had to find a job after school
to keep the family going. He was the oldest child and in between school and
work, he also found himself the guardian of his two younger siblings. As a
result of this debilitating schedule,
Awangku had no time for his studies. Gradually, he found it difficult to even
find time to revise his work.
In the end, Awangku realized that winning the scholarship was more than just
a matter of prestige; it became an issue of survival. If he won it, he would be
given RM1,200 a month to cover his expenses. This would go a long way towards
helping the family survive. He resolved to work hard. But it was a case of the
mind being willing but the flesh not. Fatigue overwhelmed him every night after
his tiring job at the fast food outlet. In the end, he managed to keep his
family afloat but was unable to study well
enough to ensure winning the scholarship.
He confided in me just before the examination that he planned to cheat. It
was a difficult decision for him, as by nature, he was a very honest person who
believed strongly in integrity. But this time, he felt that he was left with no
choice. I knew that he was right; if he had the time and energy to study for the
examination, he would certainly have excelled. Unfortunately, all the odds were
stacked against him. But I could not condone his intention to cheat. I told him
that I would report him if he did that, but to no avail. He was set on his
In the end, I carried out my threat. I saw him copying from notes that he had
written on the sleeve of his jacket and reported him immediately. He was caught
red-handed. The last time I saw my best friend, he had looked at me with unshed
tears glistening in his eyes. I could not say anything. When he walked away, out
of the life he had always known, my heart splintered
into a thousand pieces. I knew that the look of pure sorrow that he gave me then
would haunt me for the rest of my life.