Reminiscing KPK

And the monologue continues…
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It’s funny how the same roads, buildings and signage look different in light and dark. In the Blue Bird taxi on our way to the airport at 5 am, I noticed shops and streets I have never noticed before. The traffic, or the lack of, was smooth and surreal as we cruise along both normal and toll roads and I found myself transported back to 1998. Or was it 1997?

20130607-231226.jpgThe D&P class of 1998 with the late Mr Kuo Pao Kun in front of his Volkswagen we dreamed to own.

As third year student-teachers, we were fortunate to have the late doyen of Singapore Theatre Mr Kuo Pao Kun, known affectionately to us as PK, as our teacher. His wealth of knowledge, experiences and gentlemanly and unassuming ways inspired respect from us. One day, he gave us a task: “Look out of the window at 2am. What do you see?”. I remember finding the exercise very novel and interesting but didn’t see much. Pity. Can I blame it on youthful recklessness and impatience?
20130607-231920.jpgPK and the girls.

I also remember PK’s quiet demeanor that belies an incredible strength of mind, his heightened sensitivity towards different cultural practices and beliefs, as well as a subtle sense of humour.

None of these, however, left as much an impact on me as the time he suggested using puppetry and mask work in a drama performance that the class was devising. My response to his suggestion: “But those devices are too common.” was met with the slightest twitch of his brows, silence and trademark smile. I didn’t think much of his reaction then and so self-absorbed with my own ideas that I did not bother to investigate the lead my teacher had offered. So conceited was I that I couldn’t see that it is not the theatrical device or idea that is common but the person and her mind. He too did not pursue the matter for it was clear I was not ready to see what he saw. Regrettable.

Today, 18 years on, I can only pray that I have benefitted from the mistakes made in youth and be the kind of educator my dear teacher had been to me. I can only pray that I have the wisdom to guide my students, the grace and patience to give them space and time to become their own persons, the confidence and trust in them that they will find their own way in this increasingly convoluted world of ours.

Thank you PK. I will take my responsibilities as an educator as seriously and with as much dignity as you have taken yours.

Warmest thoughts and memories,
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