For lack of a better word V.Sivapathasundram, a former teacher at Tunku Besar Secondary School (TBS), Tampin and hockey coach who passed away on Sunday at the age of 68, is simply a LEGEND.
Being as mischievous as I was growing up, I was often the subject of punishment by this man. Those were the days when teachers had special permission from parents, including mine, to use the rod, even outside the school.
There have been many ocassions when I was slapped so hard that I literally saw stars. I was then in my teenage years and played hockey for the school, Tampin district and the State of Negri Sembilan. Siva was my teacher-cum coach.
One particular incident which I shall never forget took place when I was in Form Five. It was a hockey-training day and I was given the duty of picking up hockey balls. When my team mate Amarjit and I got to the PE store, there wasn't a single ball. We later realised that the girls' team beat us to it.
So looking all over the PE store for hockey balls, I remarked:
"There are no hockey balls here, so I guess we'll have to use Siva's BALLS,". Both of us burst out laughing, and that's when we heard his signature cough. As we turned around, we saw Siva standing right behind us. I shall leave the rest of this story to your imagination.
Siva was a dedicated teacher with hockey being his No 1 passion. Like my friend and former colleague Jugjet Singh described in his column in the New Straits Times today, Siva was often pre-occupied plotting the defeat of the other hockey Titan in Negeri Sembilan - the St Paul's Institution. TBS would often meet SPI in the finals. Both had a fair share of winning.
Despite being a strict disciplinarian demanding both academic and sporting excellence from his students, Siva had a soft spot which he chose not to show. He gladly let some of his students to stay in his house for as long as they wanted. These students were poor and could not commute to school from home for hockey training because they lived far away and the hostel could not accommodate them.
A former TBS hockey player, Azlan Harun, recalled his experience staying with Siva. He bought special crockery for the Muslims and catered halal food for them, all at his own expense.
How many teachers we know today would do the same? How many teachers we know today would walk around the school field in the scorching afternoon heat to pluck thorns and line the hockey pitch? How many teachers in the rural areas we know today would take the trouble to go to KL and buy hockey sticks and boots for their students? Siva used to give them away for free to poor students. I was among the beneficiaries.
It will take a whole book for me to describe Siva's contributions to the development of sports in Tampin District, Negeri Sembilan and country. A voice in Sports did a fantastic job, here.
Siva's love for cigarettes landed him in hospital many times. He suffered at least a couple of heart attacks when I was still in Tampin. Two or three days after being discharged from the hospital, he would be back in the field. His deteriorating health never seemed to bother him.
I was told that three weeks before his death, he was still coaching young children under the BAKAT programme. He was coughing away, but that didn't stop him.
Siva was the man behind the scene. If there is a posthumous award for a dedicated teacher and sportsman, I would vote for him over and over again.
Thank you and goodbye, Sir. I am forever indebted to you. And you shall forever remain my favourite teacher, my mentor and my friend.
My name is Mohd Ashraf Abdullah. I was born and raised in Tampin, Negeri Sembilan. I am a journalist at heart. I served the New Straits Times as a journalist for 17 years, beginning as a cadet reporter in 1988. I was trained to be a political writer. I served the NST in various capacities including as Staff Correspondent of the Kuantan Bureau and London Correspondent. I resigned as News Editor in 2004 to join Golden Hope Plantations Berhad as Deputy General Manager, Group Corporate Affairs. Two years later I was made General Manager, Group Corporate Affairs. When Golden Hope and Kumpulan Guthrie Berhad were merged with Sime Darby Berhad in November 2007, I chose not to accept the offer of employment by the merged entity. I was a scholar of the British Government and possess a Masters Degree in International Studies and Diplomacy from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. I am also a Jefferson's Fellow of the East West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.