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As Long as We Remember...

May 18, 2016

The Thrill of Watching

Tom McLaughlin

"Tomorrow is Sports Day," my wife said on Saturday. "But he is only five years old," I countered. "Still, we have to go," she insisted. I almost said why, but I knew I was beaten. I would have to go.


My mind went back 30 years, when my other children reached the age that seemed to never end. I went to countless plays, basketball games, hockey, PTA meetings, parent-teacher conferences, and dance classes. I am sure I am leaving out a few. When the last one entered college, I knew I was finished. Then Dzul came along at the age of 60, and the cycle began to repeat itself.


Sports Day here in Malaysia is an old British tradition, left over from colonial times. The whole school stops for a week or so and practices various athletic competitions like running. The big day arrives and the parents come to watch their athletic children compete. Usually there is a dance and dinner afterward with a notable person in attendance.


"Six A.M.," I questioned.


"Yes, six A.M.," she replied.


We all got up with Dzul howling that it wasn't even light outside and we should all go back to sleep.


I agreed, but Mom was hell bent on going. We met our ride and after a long discussion about how to get there, we were off. Luckily, I remembered to bring two big Sunday newspapers with me for what I knew was going to be an interminable day. Malaysia still has big Sunday newspapers as the Internet hasn't quite taken hold to put them out of business.


I sat back and relaxed and had a delightful read in the stands. The field in front of me was a concoction of 3-6 year olds plus Moms and Dads trying to guide then to their proper locations. The person on the loud speaker tried to speak English giving directions, but I knew she so wanted to break into Chinese and tell everyone what to do. (The school is called Early Reader, an English language concern). Hence she was ignored.


After about a half hour of pleading and begging, a group managed a march past behind the Malaysian and Sarawak flags. Then, everyone stood for the national anthem. Then, everything broke into pandemonium again. I just watched and kept reading. Suriani and Dzul were down there somewhere. I think they finally got everything straightened out, so I went down to find them.


The events were held on a huge circular track at a high school. I walked around once looking for them but to no avail. I was beginning my second round when I heard Dzul’s name being called. It was his turn for the event.


Now, I had an alternative motive. Dzul is short; short by Asian standards and that is short. He stayed at 23 pounds for about a year as we tried to feed him everything. I wanted to compare him with his school mates. He was still short but not as short. He at least seems to be catching up.


The event was to run half way, place five marbles in a liter container and to carry the container across the finish line. Only Dzul, ran past the bottle and marbles and crossed the finish line. He then had to go back and do the marble thing, finishing dead last.


"That's my son," I said, beaming with pride.


...Life is good. . . . .


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