CheGu Ismail Yusof. I had only a very faint memory of CheGu Ismail in my early schooling life. It was in Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Tunggal, K. Terengganu. But I remembered him very well in 1962 through to the first half of 1963, in my Std 6. I remembered his wife, CheGu Rokiah very well too. She did not teach me either, but I borrowed her bicycle very often in the afternoon (she taught in the afternoon session in 1963) to go home for a quick break before returning to school for the extra classes in preparation of the Std Six Examination in July 1963.
In 1963, CheGu Ismail was the scout master. With a very minimum uniform, I was a thunder-foot cub scout in Std Six, in 1963. In one activity, I attended the one day Terengganu Jamboree 1963 held in Batu Buruk Beach. It was Saturday and we went by boat from the school. CheGu Ismail, the scout master was in charge. The event ended at about six in the evening which means that I had no mean what so ever to get back home on my own that day. It was dark and I glued myself close to CheGu Ismail who had no choice but to take me with him in his car to his place for the night. It was in Losong, perhaps Losong Atap Zain, close to Chabang Tiga. I recalled he has no children. His wife, CheGu Rokiah cooked a very delicious mushroom soup that night, and it was the first time I eat the soup. With a cool bath from the well and very tired of standing, singing, and moving about in the Jamboree, I slept like a log in a very cosy house I had not tasted before. The next day, Sunday, CheGu Ismail was sending me to the school so that I could go home by my usual way. At the ferry in Losong he met the Nazir who was going to the school, and I was put into the Nazir's car while CheGu Ismail returned to his home. From the school I walked home, absenting the class, and when I reached home my mother, my father and my elder brother were so deliriously happy for apparently last night up to mid-night they were in frenzy searching for me, went to every where they could go up to Pengkalan Batu, and Bukit Tumbuh trying to locate where I was about for failing to reach home by sun set. The same CheGu Ismail, later became sort of senior teacher in the school and he has a great part in the making of my life.
In Nov or so, 1963, SSE results came out while I was beginning my "career" after thinking that I have finished my schooling, and further schooling would not make my family's life better. The results did not bothered me at all, and I even had forgotten it altogether since my last day in the school. The joy or otherwise of other fellow friends who went to see the results were totally inexistence in my memories. However, the destiny took it course; when the SSE results were made available in the school, CheGu Ismail found his way to my home and met my mother and told my mother my SSE results and explained to her what the results could be made to mean to me and to her too for the future. My mother did not tell me the first time CheGu Ismail came, so I believed CheGu Ismail came many times to convince her, to tell her the choice I could have, to explain what it take, what to do and what would happen for each choice. My mother made the choice for me, the choice I would had made if I were directly asked by CheGu Ismail. He took all the particulars to take to the school to proceed, and eventually I was taken over by my destiny playing in the form of four elements: my father's confidence, my mother's prayer, CheGu Ismail's unprecedented sincere and persistent insistence, and my SSE results. I learned many years later that my mother was guided by her relatives in Mengabang Telung, who visited us once a while, in making her commitment to invest her effort on me, considering that this period was the hardest life she was in; but then she was in her late twenty, very energetic. The people of Mengabang Telong, despite in their poor fishermen life, especially the ladies, and more especially my mother's relatives were very concern about going to school, and they knew exactly what did going to school could mean to them. CheGu Ismail indeed had done a noble deed to me and my family, something he would do only to his dearest son; saying I am indebted to CheGu Ismail is simply not an equivalent, I needed more words and more deedly words.
Apparently CheGu Ismail had a brother of my age, by the name Ibrahim. He went to the same school as me; but I only knew it when we moved from Sultan Sulaiman to Padang Midin in Oct 1964. We were good friends for a while, but limited because he was not a hostel boarder, and was never a class-mate. I lost him when I went to SAS in Kuala Lumpur in 1967.
My being informed about CheGu Ismail resumed after I returned from England in 1976, nearly fifteen years apart. But, to my amazement I was informed that he kept remembering me, mentioning my name, and quoted me by example and wished very much to see me. Aparently, after retirement from teaching service he resided in Teluk Pasu, his home of origin, and took to politics. A character like him was what the people were looking for, and he had become the most popularly voted ADUN in Terengganu in late 80s.
CheGu Ismail passed away in the 90's after a couple of years of illness; I had not met a chance to meet him personally; admittedly it was totally my negligence, after all he lived not very far away from my home of origin. In 2002, through a close friend who worked in Terengganu CM Information Office and knew very well a subordinate who lived close to the late CheGu Ismail home in Teluk Pasu, I acquired a photograph of him (on this page - I guess when he was about 40); apparently at the consent of balu Arwah, CheGu Rokiah who might well remembered my shadowy existence in their life since 1963. Perhaps one has to sieve another one million to get one other person similar to CheGu Ismail.