At the ground floor of a housing estate block on a warm May night, she waited impatiently for the lift to arrive.
Humidity hung heavy in the air, creating a sombre mood that reminded her of students receiving their mid-year exam results during this period.
Just when she felt that her makeup was about to melt, the lift door opened. She gleefully stepped inside, only to sense that she was not alone.
Looking up, she was stunned to see a gigantic moth staring back at her from the roof of the lift cabin.
At this moment, the door suddenly slammed shut and the lift ascended rapidly to gain an equivalent of 23 storeys worth of gravitational potential energy (her mass being totally negligible) to arrive at the top floor of her flat.
When the door opened again, a strange instinct beckoned her to follow the flitting moth out of the lift, towards the rooftop access trapdoor, which she was surprised to find unlocked.
Grateful that she could still somehow manage to squeeze through the gap at her age, she stood atop the dimly-lit roof area … to be confronted by the shocking sight of unspeakable graffiti sprayed all across the surrounding walls.
Hey! Stop! What do you think you are doing?!
Her yell startled the hooded figure who was about to put the finishing touches to his latest “artwork” at the opposite end of the roof area.
You may be upset at something. But this is most definitely NOT the way to vent your frustration! Do you know the police will catch you faster than they can catch loan sharks these days, especially when it involves HDB rooftops?
For what felt like a long time, her words seemed to carry the persuasive weight of an electron as they faced each other tensely in the semi-darkness, with the hood keeping the culprit’s identity firmly under wraps.
I failed my mid-year exams.
Finally, the hood was pulled back to reveal a youthful face, with eyes glinting with immense sadness under the random lights from adjacent flats.
I failed my exams. They said I was lazy. They said I was playful. They said I didn’t study hard enough.
His voice began to tremble.
But they did not say why my teachers didn’t revise certain topics that came out in the exam.
They did not say why my teachers never finish teaching certain topics that came out in FULL in the exam.
They did not say why some of their notes were incomplete or missing.
They did not say why they gave me the (wrong) impression that only this year’s work would be tested.
They never taught me the techniques required to answer those structured questions in the exams.
They only knew how to minus our marks.
His finger tightened on the nozzle of his spray can.
They expect us to self-learn everything.
They think we are SUPERHUMANS!
Visibly agitated, he raised and waved his can high in the air.
And now that I’ve failed my exams. My teachers are asking me to drop certain subjects.
Yesterday my Chemistry teacher even told me sarcastically “you ain’t becoming a doctor, so might as well give it up!”
They only know how to blame me when I fail. I can’t stand this anymore!
I HATE MY SCHOOL!
I HATE MY TEACHERS!
I HATE EXAMS!
Inevitably, like a scene straight out of a Hong Kong Police Negotiator drama, she interjected just as he was about to press the nozzle to release a lethal spray of red mist on the poor wall.
请你千万不要冲动! Please calm down! 凡事都可以商量!
Think about your loved ones before you do anything rash! How would they feel if they see your full name and handsome face plastered across all newspapers, even though you may be underaged?!
I understand your frustration. But please, please know that you are not alone …
2014 June Holiday Intensive Sessions
Each year in June, fellow students from all over Singapore, many whom are in a similar situation as yours, gather at my Temple for a month of June Holiday intensive small group sessions for Science and Mathematics.
In these intensive revision sessions, they’ll channel all energy towards mastering their foundation and concepts so as to adequately prepare themselves for the second-half (for some, the penultimate leg) of the academic year, as well as banish the shadows of their mid-year exam grief and correct the sort of injustice you’ve felt.
The schedule, if you are interested, is here.
Upon her pleading, the spray can was lowered, and his voice softened.
Will you really help me?
Will you teach me the topics my teachers didn’t cover in time?
Will you give me complete notes?
Will you teach me the techniques to answer those twisty structured questions which I always don’t understand?
Will you ask me to drop the subject at the end of the lesson?
Don’t be silly! Of course we’ll help you! Join us and we’ll always be there whenever you need someone to talk to.
Now, Dear, would you please give me your spray can? The wall is innocent. My block is innocent!
As he slowly stepped away from the wall to pass her the spray can, there was one more thing on his troubled mind.
But as you can see, much damage has already been done. These walls, like my report book, are filled with my red “artwork”. Is it too late for me? Will the police catch me and shame me in the newspapers?
Not to worry. I’ll make sure I clean up your report book and ensure it’ll be free from such vandalism in the future 😉
As for these walls …
*Picks up mobile phone and calls Mr Esa*
Note: While this story is obviously fictitious, the experiences of the youth vandal were collated from actual students.