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3. Another Chapter of My Life

Chapter 3

Another Chapter of My Life

My pursuit of art and my desire to go overseas for further education

When I chose art as my elective course in 1977, I began to explore art with great enthusiasm. Two years later, I discovered I have some specific artistic talent. It was a pleasant surprise because as a matter of fact, I was not good in art during my primary school days. I recall an incident which happened in 1972, when I was 11 years old. My teacher asked his students to draw “A scene at the market place” during one of the art lessons. Throughout my primary school years, I was really bad in drawing human beings. For that assignment, I had to draw many traders, both men and women, who were selling vege­tables, fruits, poultry etc at a busy open market. I managed to complete my drawing but it was a lousy piece of artwork.

I recall the bad remarks I received from my teacher. He said, “Your drawing is so bad! All the actions and express­ions of the human beings in your painting look weird!” He graded my piece of artwork a “D” which means that I barely passed. My art teacher was totally displeased with my drawing and thought I was absolutely not gifted in drawing.

However, after I had chosen art studies as my elective course in 1977, I discovered that my artistic talent was in a specific area of drawing and painting. I was not gifted in drawing human beings but I was talented in painting any topic related to nature. In 1979, I started my new hobby by doing lots of landscape watercolor paintings. At that time, I was a big fan of sunset paintings. I excelled in my art class and my wish was to pursue the “Academy of Fine Arts” in the near future. That same year, I took the Malaysian Certificate of Education (MCE) examination which was a national examination taken by all fifth-form secondary school students in Malaysia. I scored an “A” for my art course. With that excellent result I thought there would be no problem in convincing my parents to let me pursue art studies at a college in Kuala Lumpur, West Malaysia.

Sunset oil painting on canvas (2015)


An idea came to my mind: “Since my parents aren’t supportive of my pursuit of music studies, why don’t I pursue art studies?” Sadly, life isn’t always a bed of roses. I experienced another huge blow when my ambition to be an artist did not come true, because of strong objections from my parents. In their opinion, both music studies and art studies are equally useless. I was totally disappointed with their negative responses, and began to harbor bitter­ness in my heart. I confess that I was full of resentment against my parents for disregarding my feelings.

During my secondary school years, approximately 50% of Malaysia school subjects were taught in Bahasa Malaysia which happened to be the language I disliked. My greatest wish was to escape from the study of Bahasa Malaysia by pursuing either art studies or music studies in some private college, but none of my dreams came true. I pondered, “Since I cannot fulfill my dream of being an artist or a musician, and at the same time I dislike Bahasa Malaysia, perhaps the best option is to get out of Malaysia and pursue some kind of study in a foreign country.” In doing so, I might be happier to start life afresh in a foreign land. Hopefully that approach may help reduce the hatred I had against my parents.

With that thought in mind, I mustered up some courage and voiced out to my parents that I wish to go overseas to further my studies just like my two elder brothers who at that time were studying in Manchester, the United Kingdom (UK). Unfortunately, at that time there was a tuition hike in the UK which made it too costly for me to pursue studies there. Besides, my dad did not entertain my suggestion as he felt it was unsafe for a girl to leave home for a faraway land. So my dream to be a musician, to be an artist, or to escape overseas had all vanished into thin air! I was lamenting, “Why am I so unlucky! I must be the unluckiest person in the world!”

In my disappointment a thought surfaced on my mind. At that juncture, I remembered what the church pastor had once said to me: “Don’t be dismayed! Go before God and make your requests known to Him.” There was no time to lose; all I needed to do was to pray. So I decided to pray to God as I believe that God will hear everyone’s honest prayer (though I later also learned the principle, “whatever we ask we receive from Him because we keep His commandments and do what pleases Him,” 1John 3:22). Anyway, I was at my wit’s end! My simple mind thought, “Oh well, no harm in giving it a try. Who knows, God may have pity on me, and open a way for me.”

I started praying earnestly to God: “God, I was told that You listen to prayers. I desperately need Your help. My greatest wish is to leave Malaysia. It doesn’t matter which country I go to, so long as I can escape somewhere. I am all ready to fly!” I continued to pray that same prayer for about two weeks.

Hallelujah! God opened the way for me to escape to Canada

After two weeks of persistent prayer, lo and behold, my father ran into one of his old friends whom I addressed as Uncle Koh. They met for a coffee break and chatted. Amazingly, Uncle Koh told my dad that he had become an agent for a school in Hamilton, Canada. That was a pleasant surprise! I was wondering, “Since when did Uncle Koh become an agent for a foreign school?” He also shared with my dad that he had helped his younger brother and another friend to submit the registration for Grade 13 education in that school. It so happened that these two young men were both my ex-class­mates. How wonderful, isn’t it?

My dad has always been an obstinate person. No one has ever succeeded in changing his view or decision on any­thing. I guess God must have heard my prayer of despera­tion. I am convinced He must have been the One who had moved my dad’s heart. Out of the blue, dad become very interested in knowing more about pursuing studies in Canada. Uncle Koh explained to him the registration pro­cedure, and also told dad to rest assured that everything would be well taken care of by the school representative in Hamilton. He also highlighted to dad that the next day was the closing date for registration.

To my amazement, dad did not discuss with Mum first before making his decision. That was his typical style! Without delay, dad told Uncle Koh to immediately help me with the submission for registration as he had made up his mind to let me fly to Canada. That was totally unbelievable! What an amazing encounter!

That evening dad came home with the good news. I was stunned when I received it. I almost couldn’t believe the total change in my dad’s attitude. All I could say was, “That must be another divine intervention! A miracle indeed! God had answered my prayer.” Our God is awesome!

As I reminisce about the past, Uncle Koh appeared in the nick of time! He must have been an angel sent by God to rescue me from my dreadful situation. If dad had met up with Uncle Koh just a day later, I would have missed the closing date for registration! It was absolutely beyond my imagi­nation that God would pave the way for a nobody like me. That incredible encounter spurred me on, leading me to press on further in my search for the true meaning of “God is love”.


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