Thursday, December 15, 2011

The waiting game...

It had been a long wait for us. Especially for Hasya.

From the day she came back from school all excited about the road show done by KYSM, all she could talk about was how great it would be if she got accepted to study at KYSM.

Frankly speaking, it never crossed our minds to send her for schooling there before that. Both of us were actually thinking of applying for her to go to an SBP - the nearer it is to home, the better. So, we were toying with the idea of applying for either SSP in Cyberjaya, or TKC in Seremban. My alma mater is out of the question. It's just too far.

But, when Hasya asked if she could just submit her application for Axiata scholarship for KYSM online, we just let her with the hope that she would be called to sit for the entrance exam under the Axiata group of candidates. Syukur Alhamdulillah, Hasya was shortlisted to sit for the exam, however, she was put under the fee-paying group of candidates. Given the opportunity to try out for a place, we decided that she should just go for it.

Apparently, there were more than 6,000 applications, and only 900 were called to sit for the exam. So, being amongst the 900 selected ones was quite a feat, we think. On the day of the entrance exam, the whole family went to Melaka to send and be with her for moral support ☺

In the mean time, while waiting for the result, Hasya suddenly had a change of heart, when one day she told me that she was having second thoughts about going to KYSM. And when I asked her why, she just said that she preferred to go to Sri Aman as all her close friends would be going there.

However, in the next few days, she kept on asking us how much would the fees be, and what would happen if she didn’t get any scholarship to go to KYSM. Apparently, those who were not put under the Axiata scholarship would still have the chance of being sponsored by a few other bodies. And Hasya was hoping that she would be considered for the scholarship.

From there, we could tell that deep inside she still really wanted to go to KYSM, but, she didn’t want us to spend so much on her fees and all should she get accepted. THAT is Hasya – one who always feels guilty if we spend anything on her. Everytime when she wants anything, she would check the price, and if she feels it is too expensive, or not worth the price, she would not get it.

Syukur alhamdulillah, a couple of weeks after that, we received a letter from the college stating that Hasya got through the exam and had been shortlisted to go for the next selection stage, i.e. the Resident Based Selection (RBS).

Apparently, out of the 900 candidates who sat for the exam, only 256 of them got through to the RBS stage. And that, to us was another amazing feat for Hasya.

For the RBS, the candidates were required to spend 4D3N at the college, and they were put through a few programs to assess their leadership skills, teamwork capabilities, sporting abilities and their other talents. They also sat for interviews whereby one of the things they had to do was to come up with solutions to hypothetical scenarios and settings to gauge their problem-solving capabilities. Hasya was even asked to perform the Asyik Dance during the interview, and syukur alhamdulillah, her traditional dance lessons under Teacher Dida all these years paid off!

The candidates were also required to perform in a musical on their last night there whereby their singing, dancing and acting skills were put to test. And with just 2 days given to come up with their own musical they were put under a lot of pressure to use their creative juices, and again to see how well they could work as a team under such pressure.

When Hasya came back after the RBS, all excited telling us about what they did over the 4 days, and how she did overall, Ayah and I were very impressed indeed, and we decided that even if she didn’t get any scholarships, we would still send her to KYSM. We could see just how much it meant to her if she was accepted to study there. When we were out getting the kids their rewards for their final exam results last week Hasya told us that she didn’t want anything. The best reward, she said, would be if she got the offer to go to KYSM.

The candidates who went for the RBS weekend had created an FB Group and they had been communicating with each other since they parted ways at the end of the RBS. Everybody was saying just how anxious they were waiting for the result, and I think that had made Hasya’s level of anxiety go up a few notches! Out of the 256 who went for the RBS, only 80 would make the final cut.

And last Saturday, the letters of offer started coming in and those who got the letters shared the good news with the rest of the group. As we had used our Sri Damansara address as our correspondence address in the application, I had to go back to our house to check the mail at 11:30am on that Saturday morning. There were no letters for Hasya. We went back again to check at 3:00pm. And we went yet back to Sri Damansara again that night. Three trips in a day to check if the letter of offer had come, and still there was no letter for Hasya. By that time, Hasya was already feeling dejected….

I tried consoling and reassuring her, saying that maybe the letter was taking a slightly longer time to reach Sri Damansara. And as it was posted using the Pos Laju, the postman might have not left it in the mailbox because there was nobody at home. But, deep inside, I was starting to fear for the worst… and I was starting to feel guilty.

Guilty – because a patient of Ayah’s had offered to help Hasya get in as he is a close friend of Tan Sri HS. But, after Ayah and I discussed, we decided to not use any cables at that stage, because if Hasya were to be selected, we wanted her to be selected based on her merits. If she is good enough for the college (and we were very confident that she would be selected), then she would make the final cut. Ayah’s patient was very surprised and he said to Ayah that MANY people would be using their cables to get their kids into KYSM, and he was worried that Hasya would be deprived of a place it that were to happen.

But, Ayah and I were very firm about the whole thing and we decided that there should not be any cable-pulling on our part at that stage. If it was meant to be, it was meant to be. If it was not meant to be, then, it was not meant to be. And we felt that we needed to know that if Hasya were to be selected, it was because of her own abilities and merits and nothing else. If we were to use our contacts to get her in, we would never ever know for sure. And I told Ayah, if we want to pull cables – maybe when Hasya is accepted and we need the scholarship, we could THEN maybe pull some cables.

That is the thing about us in the middle-class category. We are comfortable enough and we have a good figure income which does not qualify our kids for scholarships. But, at the same time we are not wealthy enough to afford good private education for our kids. And I think there are so many parents out there who are in the same predicament as us.

On Sunday morning, Ayah tried calling the college, and of course, the office was closed. Ayah only got to speak to the security guard on duty that morning. If he had his ways, Ayah would probably have asked the guard to go to the office and check the list for us! He tried calling the Director of Studies, Dr. Chia, and finally got through to him. But, as Dr Chia didn’t have all the data with him, he couldn’t confirm if Hasya was in the list of successful candidates or not, and he asked Ayah to call the office first thing on Monday morning.

That Sunday was the longest Sunday ever for us…

Monday morning finally came, and the first thing that Ayah did was to call the college. But, the news that we got was not the one we wanted to hear. Hasya’s name was not on the list of the successful candidates…

Both Ayah and I were speechless, and we just didn’t know how to break the news to Hasya. It was then that we felt that MAYBE we should have accepted Ayah’s contact’s offer to get Hasya in… 1001 things were playing in our hearts and minds…

Just how were we going to break the news to Hasya?

Ayah then called Dr Chia to ask if we could appeal. And Ayah told him, “If we didn’t think Hasya deserves a place in KYSM, we would not want to appeal. But, we know that she is qualified…Is there any way at all for us to appeal?”

And what Dr Chia said next was even more heart-shattering for us.

Apparently, Hasya had missed the placing by ONE spot. In Dr Chia’s own words - the competition was not tough. It was EXTREMELY tough. They were only looking for 7 girls for the fee-paying group, and Hasya was ranked #8. And because of that, Hasya had been placed first on the waiting list.

We don’t know if anybody had pulled cables at any stage. But, we know that IF they did, then Hasya might have been deprived of a place which rightfully should have been hers. We really don’t know, and we don’t want to speculate.

Dr Chia assured us, that if any one of the girls were to decline the offer, Hasya would be the first to be offered the place.

We didn’t have the heart to tell Hasya, and we were waiting for the right time to break the news gently to her.

As it was a public holiday for Selangor that day, Ayah decided to bring all of us for lunch and then brought the kids over to my office, where they waited until I finished work that day.

And it was while waiting for me in my personal office when Hasya suddenly called me (I was in my admin office then) and told me that she got news that one of her friends had been told that her friend was ranked #16 and had been put on the waiting list. And Hasya started begging us to call KYSM to find out her status.

I went back to my office. Ayah and I exchanged looks and we slowly brought Hasya to one corner, sat her down and told her what Dr Chia had told us that morning.

It was heartbreaking to see her, when she started to cry.

Those who know Hasya would know that she is one tough cookie. She does not cry. Period.

So, seeing her controlling her emotions at first until it was just too much to contain, made me want to cry and hug her. But seeing that she was trying not to shed a tear, I decided to just hold her hands.

The first thing that came out of her was, “Mommy, it’s just not fair…”

And the floodgate opened, and she started to cry. I started to cry. And we both hugged each other. At that moment, I wasn’t sure if I needed the hug more than she did, or if it was the other way round.

I had to explain to her how things work in the real world.

Firstly, that that would be one of many disappointments in life that she would have to face, and she had to be strong.

Secondly, I had to explain to her about the “know-whos versus the know-hows”, etc. and how it works out there.

And thirdly, I asked her to remember just how she felt that day and to keep that in her. Because one day when she has to make a decision which might affect somebody’s future or life, she has to make the right decision. If she does not, somebody would end up feeling the way she did that day.

We told her that she had to make loads of Do'a, and that she has to wait, and be patient.

And so, the waiting game began again…

A few SMSes were exchanged between Ayah and Dr Chia from Monday as we were just too anxious, and over the couple of days, I would catch Hasya a few times – eyes all red and teary.

Ayah was in constant contact with Dr Chia who reassured us that he was trying his best and we should be patient and wait a while as the college was trying to get confirmation of acceptance from the successful candidates this week.

And so we waited… yet again.

On Wednesday morning, I got this forwarded SMS from Ayah –

“Good Morning, En. Haizal. We can offer Hasya a place if you can confirm and pay the deposit by Saturday”

I was jumping up and down after reading the SMS! Syukur Alhamdulillah… Syukur kepada Allah SWT ☺

I straightaway went to my MIL’s room where Hasya was sleeping, woke her up and showed her the SMS. She was a bit confused at first, but, when she finally realized what it meant, her face just lit up and she was giggling away! And I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes.

I would save those precious images in my mind forever…

We will still try to apply for a scholarship for her, but, even if she doesn’t get the scholarship, Ayah and I have decided that come what may, Hasya WILL go to KYSM because she deserves to be in KYSM.

My pesan to her the other day –

“Hasya, now that you have been accepted, you must prove it to them, that you deserved to be in the first list in the first place….”

I make do’a that she would do well, and that she would appreciate the fact that she is one of the few chosen ones, and that she would always be grateful for the rezqi which Allah SWT has bestowed on her, insya Allah…