The Court’s Library, 1.30 p.m.
I could hardly sustain my excitement to share with you a story of my former lecturer, Mr. Thana, whom we had the privilege to run into by chance this morning. Before that – and in order to make you fully comprehend the gravity of this story – I must first tell about lawyers’ qualifying exam, Certificate In Legal Practice (CLP), a test of which must be passed by all aspiring lawyers. The fact that the CLP bears no significance at all in one’s legal practice is of no importance since everyone must have full passes of all 5 subjects before they could begin their tutelage. It’s something equivalent to the Bar Exam in England. A little humming bird told that the higher power in legal profession set a mean benchmark for law graduates – who are stupid enough in the first place to take up the exam – to pass.
I did mine in ITM (now known as UiTM, whatever for though?) way back in 1999. I was a lot younger, less-wrinkly with thick, bushy hair without an iota of care in the world; that is until life interfered and forced me to grow up. Anyway, and if I may bring you back to this story at hand, Mr. Thana taught us General Paper (GP): one of the killer-paper made infamous by its myriad of topics that the examiner could pick from to just kill our lawyering dreams passed the point of possible resurrection.
However, entered this Thana person, brimmed up to his head in confidence and style, to teach us GP. Just weeks before the exam, he mischievously said, “if you don’t have anything else to bring to the exam hall, bring your confidence, you’ll be fine”. That and countless other witty jokes of his had us all in stitches throughout CLP’s tormenting year.
Mr. Thana was – and still is – a practising lawyer and I guess that’s what give him the edge in lecturing. He could crack the meanest of joke from the silliest point of law right up to judges’ attitude; making it much easier for us to remember the topic he was teaching us. His was a non-conventional teaching method. He did not bring any book to the lecture hall or any notes for that matter. He remembered by heart things that he wanted us to know or learn from him.
Besides his obvious ability to lecture, Mr. Thana, has an uncanny ability to screen the hearts of his students. He personally asked one of us while wearing a face filled with concern, in a speech style that rivaled of James Bond’s, “So… what’s bugging you my dear?”
True to form, Mr. Thana’s class hardly had absentees. Even the most frivolous of us *ahem!* could find it in their hearts to sit through his classes and tutorials. And if I may add, GP was as dry a subject as a bone – probably still is though.
I recall calling him in the middle of the night (God bless his wife) before the exam started, frantic with fear, asking him, “Sir, what if I failed?” To which he cordially replied, “What is there to fail, my dear? You are already too smart for your own good.” I was immensely comforted notwithstanding the truth in his answers.
As fate would have it, Mr. Thana, got almost a full passes from my batch. He was the second person I called to inform about my passing the impossible-to-pass-exam after my parents. He was so overwhelmed with his students’ achievement, he could hardly make himself coherent, amidst the shouts of joy and tear. And today, he sat at Starbucks with his three former students – all practising lawyers now – who still look up to him in awe.
He wore that proud look on his face today while looking at us but he couldn’t help himself from teaching us the rope in practice post CLP exam. Sadness gnawed in my heart as he drained that last bit of coffee from his mug before he bade us adieu. Mr. Thana, in some ways, helped me into being who I am today. To borrow Hi & Lo’s words, “teaching is a calling, not a job”. And Mr. Thana did it exceptionally well.
I must go now as I am scheduled to be in court ten minutes ago. Though I have to tell you that the view from this library cubicle is breathtaking. I could see the majestic Masjid Wilayah at far right and that pathetic government complex at Jalan Duta.
Until our next letter, I remain…