Monday, January 19, 2009

The Man who walks his talk

"Mr. Cheah want to see you" a school mate told me . I was in form two then (26 years go) and the disturbing message causes my heart to pound fast and hard against my fragile chest. I though to myself "what have I done wrong?" The late Constantine Cheah is the school disciplinary teacher and the vice principal. His dressing is his personal trademark. Dressed up in white collared short sleeve shirt and with long white pants, with a cane tucked under his arm. His presence can send shivers to every students as he was a tall, thin and stern looking man. As St Anthony was a missionary school in the earlier years, discipline and respect for others are important daily practices to be strictly observed. Silent befalls the room everytime he passes the classroom corridor.

Mustering up my courage , I knocked and entered his small but tidy office. "Good morning Sir" my tiny voice sounded. " He looked at me with a smile and said " Would you like to play the organ on Sunday? I was relieve of his question. I agreed and Mr Cheah reassured me that he would hand me the song hymms 2 weeks earlier so I have ample time to practice.

Then, I just started learning to play the keyboard a few months back from my good friend Januarius and an exceptionally talented musician name Joseph. My music talent is self taught with hours and hours of practice. I did not own a keyboard then and I practice in the church just beside the school during my break and sometimes I had to walk 3KM to church for practice from home. For me, it was a joy and passion.

Father John Var Der Salm (Left) with Constantine Cheah (Right)

I am truly grateful that during his lifetime he gave me the opportunity when no one did. Surprisingly the more I got to know him, I found him to be a kind, encouraging and supportive person. He was a pious man who lived a life of celibacy and he is very involved in the Blessed Sacrament Church administration. When I was 13 years old, he became my Godfather during my confirmation rites, someone I wanted to emulate. Unfortunately He died in 1989 after battling with cancer. He was only 47 years old. The church pews was filled till the church entrance as if there was a mass being said on that day. Everyone came to pay their last respect and what touches me the most, is the fact that he selected the readings, the song hymms , and wrote his parting words for his own funeral. He was prepared.

I can still recall the song that he selected " The Lord is my shepherd" His parting words expressed " I have not reached my goal but GOD has other plans for me ".
Constantine Cheah Teck Seng is but an exemplify of a servant leader who is dedicated to service above self and a person who walks his talk.

As I write this post, I am reminded that a good deed done however small to another person can make a difference in that person's life. What good deed have you done today that can make a difference?

No comments: