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Archive for February 5th, 2013

Book order

Some forty years ago when I first started Standard One at Methodist Girl’s Primary School, my class teacher asked me what my dad’s occupation was. She needed this information to fill up some forms for record-keeping.

At a tender age of seven and hardly knowing much English, I do not know how to describe what my dad does for a living.

“Is he a doctor?” she asked me and I shook my head.

“How about a salesman?” she asked again but I kept quiet.

“Is he then a policeman, a taxi driver or a farmer?” Mrs. Victor Doss asked me patiently. I just stared at her with a blank face. She finally gave up.

“Alright, get your mom or dad to come see me tomorrow, I’ll ask them myself,” she said at last.

The next day, dad cycled to my school and went to see the teacher. He told her humbly in broken Malay of his vocation, “Saya asah gunting, cikgu.” It simply means “I sharpen scissors, teacher.”

It was her turn to look lost. I think she had hardly heard of anyone in this profession. In Ipoh’s new town, there was one along Cockman Street but maybe she was not aware of his existence.

Dad also told her our coffee shop had just closed down a few months ago.

“Oh, in that case, I’ll just put it down as shop-owner!” she said delightfully as she could not find the appropriate term to describe him.

That was how my dad was known throughout my school days – a shop owner even though the shop we were staying in does not belong to us as we were renting it from a rich Sikh property owner cum lawyer.

So when I wrote in ipohworld’s world about my dad’s struggles to bring up a big family by sharpening scissors, I decided to coin the term “scissors sharpener.” Of course there was a debate among the readers on this term but I stood by my description.

I am so proud of my dad the scissors sharpener. I am so glad to be his daughter and be able to stand out from the rest. Humble his trade may sound but he was a very decent and resilient man.

For being such an integral part of my life, he was being featured prominently in my first book, “The Stories of the Scissors Sharpener’s Daughter.”

Do read my book to find out why I loved this man so much.

To be continued….

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