Mr Samuel was my form teacher when I was in secondary three and he taught us English and Commerce for two years. That year was 1977. He was a big man who sported a thick moustache that curled on both ends. To start with, we were not brilliant students and most of us come from dialect speaking families. Half the time during his lesson I had some difficulty understanding him. He hailed from Sri Lanka but educated in Malaysia. He spoke quite fast and with some Indian slang. Sheepishly, his lesson was quite boring.
What was unique of Mr Samuel? He was the most generous of teacher that I have ever met. Many of us were poor. Our parents cannot afford any form of luxury other than sending us to school. We had just formed our class football team to compete in the school championship and we were excited about it. I used to idolise the legendary Kevin Keegan and so much so I earned a nickname from my classmates who called me 'Ah Gan' (Keegan for short). We wanted to get jerseys for our team but alas, the school did not have any budget for that. We had to foot it ourselves. When Mr Samuel knew that we wanted jerseys for our football team, he did not hesitate to pay for us from his own pocket. The design of our jerseys mimicked one of the English Division One football teams (before it was re-named to Premier League many years later). If I remember well, it was the QPR team design. Our jersey colour was bright orange which had black and white stripess running on both sides in front. We held our heads high when we paraded our jerseys on the field. We had the best jerseys on the field. We were one of the favourite teams as we had few school players with us but nice jerseys aside, we were knocked out early. Hurt pride was all we had. If any, I was just an average football player with big dream though.
Mr Samuel passed away early last year. He was always too careless with his money. The friends around him knew him too well. He was once cheated of his hard earned pension monies by a teaching friend of his which left him struggling with his daily life. Immediately after his sudden passing, some scheming friends even took advantage of the situation. Mr Samuel was never married and he had an aged elder sister (who died some months after him) leaving in Kuala Lumpur. His sister was a widow and childless. They only had each other. One in Singapore and another in Kuala Lumpur. She was unable to care for herself and was suffering from severe dementia. While she was barely alive, his scheming friends seized the opportunity to sell her house in Kuala Lumpur by forcing her to appoint one of them as trustee. One I was told was his former teacher in his 80s. The house was quickly sold, proceeds went to them and subsequently she died too. I guess such thing will only happen in Malaysia when one who was never related can manage to doctor some documents and then got the house sold without the consent of the rightful owner. I will talk more about this sad event separately.
His big generosity has proven to be his Achilles heel, sad to say.