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Unsung Heroes

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One doesn’t need to shed blood or offer his body to be burned just to become a hero. Touching lives and making a big difference is enough. Such are teachers. Teachers are our modern day yet unsung heroes. They are surrogate parents, molders of young minds, and the epitome of integrity. The school is our second home and within the portals of this institution are unsung heroes who spend their time, effort, and even money to make our educational journey worthwhile. Our teachers, like real moms and dads, shower us with love and understanding by providing a wholesome learning environment and by teaching us the necessary skills to survive in this harsh world. Furthermore, they give their best to make us learn, putting their patience to the test, so long as we can finally learn to stand on our own feet. During hardships they lend their shoulders for us to cry on or lend an ear to listen to our woes. They are the best parents outside our family circle because of their unconditional love and attention. Teaching is the noblest profession. Teachers are burdened with the responsibility of molding young minds to become responsible and disciplined citizens of the world.

From teaching the ABC’s to the more complicated lessons, teachers give their best by providing various exercises, projects, research, and tests. Moreover, they also teach positive values to make us well-rounded individuals and prepare us for the future. They teach us right from wrong and allow us to develop our own personality. Teachers are public servants who are admired by many. They are models of the perfect citizen, moral, just, and a good example to others. They are governed by ethics which when broken will cause them their job or even their life. In the Philippines, teachers render their services during elections and join in various programs of the government. Indeed, they are very popular and highly respected in the community. Teachers are our unsung heroes, which should not be forgotten but must be honored at all times. After all, without them where will you be now?

Everyday at 7:57 p.m., he sits in front of our slightly dysfunctional box he learned to recognise as the television, his primary source of entertainment: moving squiggling animations that project themselves 24 hours a day on Cartoon Network, and prancing Chinese girls that belt out Chinese New Year hits from countless VCDs we bought. Everyday at 7:57 p.m., he awaits the national songs from TV3 – because music seems to flow through his veins – and he would sit right in front of the telly, his knees up to his chin, and like a thoughtful, mature musician, he would drink the melodies of “Keranamu Malaysia,” and “Negaraku” as soulfully and powerfully sung by songstress Siti Nurhaliza. He would be so inebriated with the music that nothing short of a tempting toy car or two would move him from his seat. His name is Brandon Chan – a name he learnt to understand and recognise that it belonged to him and it’s solely his. Turning 12 two months ago brought him to the National Registry Department where he proudly showed off to everyone who was willing to pay him attention his brand new MyKad, albeit a photocopied one.

His face on the identity card was unsmiling – no one ever looked good on identity cards or driving licenses – but the owner of the card was grinning from ear-to-ear as he shoved his red Superman wallet to me, conveying his pride that he has now a MyKad in his wallet like the rest of the family. My younger brother has Down’s Syndrome, a condition which we explained to him made him simply special, although my parents weren’t exactly sure if he comprehended that fully. An extra chromosome doesn’t detract his right to live like any other human being. The darkest moment that shrouded my family in a veil of physical agony and mental torment was when my mum was diagnosed with nose cancer four years ago, where she had to endure countless of chemotherapy sessions on the pretext that it would make her better again. But what truly made her feel better at the end of the day wasn’t the countless of artificial products that entered her body, but the simple warmth and ever-enduring charm Brandon displayed which my mum needed the most. Sitting beside her bed while my mum recuperated after a session in the hospital, he would stroke her decaying hair and embedded small little kisses on her cheek, something that neither of us taught him to do.

He mightn’t know how to speak coherently, but his eternal smiles, endless kisses, and boundless love with little gestures more than made up for it. My mum believed that if it wasn’t for his indirect, constant moral support, among others, my mum would’ve given up trying to endure the excruciating chemotherapy days. The Dark Ages have now passed and is nothing more but a remnant of a tumultuous blot on our history pages. My brother remains the same as ever, ever generous with his smiles and occasionally crying, but still the radiance of his beaming grins never failed to lighten up any of our bad days. How is it possible that a single person could feel so happy every single day, to a child-like extent? It’s as if his extra copy of the 21st chromosome embodied this very aspect, trapping the eternal youth that many yearn for – but truly, one could learn to see that innocence still exists amidst a world rife with decadence.

Brandon still couldn’t and refuses to eat solid food like chicken or beef; he still continues to assume that everyday is a Chinese New Year and dances and sings dizzyingly daily after its music; he still harbours his tiny, naive wish to take Nur Sannah, his classmate, as his wife; he still is shy with strangers; and he still has that nagging hole in his heart. He still is ignorant to the evils that plague the world daily, but it’s extremely heartening for me to know that one of the few sources of pure innocence lies inside my brother. He makes friends with almost everybody possible, like theabang and adik of next door, without knowing the meaning of race nor religion, hence he knows not of racism or prejudice. He’s an unsung, atypical, Malaysian hero to my family, and if you simply need a single, undiscriminating, and un-judging smile dished about generously, well, say hello to my brother. I’m sure he has one in store for you.

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