It was a great joy teaching these school children. But the joy was greater for my parents, my wife and me when our first child, Wong Sau Foong, arrived in 1972.
Her name, which means “Beautiful Phoenix”, was bestowed upon her by Immortal Li, a patron immortal in Sifu Ho Fatt Nam’s school , which also acted as a temple.
Sau Foong is our first bundle of joy who brought a lot of happiness to our family. When she was small, she stayed with my parents in Penang and was a special pet of my mother. I remember that my mother used to tie Sau Foong’s hair on top of her head like a little tree when she was a baby girl.
Like me, she loves reading. And like me too, she chooses teaching as her profession. She won a scholarship to study the Teaching of English as a Second Language in Bognor Regis in southern England. I did not teach chi kung in England then but in other countries in Europe like Spain and Portugal, but I made a special trip to England to see her. She stayed with a lovely couple called John and Bernie, and their son and daughter. Sau Foong became part of the family.
Bognor Regis is a beautiful little seaside town along the south coast of England facing France. I landed in London and took a train to West Sussex passing through some of the most beautiful countryside I had seen. When I arrived at Bognor Regis, the time was 5 o’clock in the evening but it was already dark as it was winter. Sau Foong waited for me at the railway station and we took a cab to her house.
The next day, we walked to the town, and through a park to the university college where she studied. We also went to the beach and looked across to France. John also took me in his car for sightseeing in the surrounding area.
When Sau Foong returned to Malaysia after completing her studies in England, she was very lucky to be posted to Penang, which was the hope of many teachers. She taught in Convent Light Street, which is a premier girl school in the country. Despite being new, she was made a discipline teacher of the school.
Although she loves teaching very much, at my suggestion she resigned from the school to help me with some business venture. But teaching is her love, besides her husband, of course. Sau Foong and Teoh Swee Fatt, an accountant, were happily married in 2004. Sau Foong returned to the teaching profession, teaching English in a university college in Penang.
She returns to our house in Sungai Petani every weekend to be with us. And when she returns to her condominium in Penang, my wife will always cook a lot of dishes for her and her husband to take back with them.
“At least they can have some home cooking,” my wife is fond of saying.
“This,” I muse to myself, “is a mother’s love for her daughter.”