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Sunday, 14 October 2012

The String that Vibrates: Remembering Bro Charles

An accomplished pianist; a linguist speaking fluent Bahasa Malaysia, English, German, French and Mandarin; a teacher, mathematician, a friend and an administrator all rolled into one...

That describes Charles Levin @ Karl Wolff, or simply, Brother Charles to us Xaverians. Words will always remain words and the parturition of memory usually overwhelms the writer – in significance, pleasantness – more than the reader.

St. Xavier's InstitutionThose, like me, started studying in SXI in the late 90s would remember Bro. Charles as the "German brother who speaks fluent Malay". There was this one time when he came by the class to inform us of his new German lessons and that he's accepting students. Surely, most of us were more impressed by how excited he was about the lessons and the pluses of learning German than the prospect of having to be at school earlier in the morning. Had I taken up the offer...

Another encounter with the man was on a Friday right after the school assembly. He rounded a few of us and led us to the Palm Court and around the basketball court area – a saw in hand – to help carry [and discard] palm fronds! He'd stop and tell us stories about gardening, the traveller's palm, and how to maintain them. No hurry but eager to impart what he knows.

Somehow I felt I had to thank him for all that he had done over the years for the school, for his zealous commitment to the cause of education for all, for his selfless dedication. I shook his hand and he clasped mine and I said simply, “Thank you, Brother, for all that you have done for us.”

Of course, I couldn't give a more glowing valediction like some of the students he formally taught. But the grief from man's passing is shared by members of the La Sallian/Xaverian family.

Whether we laugh or cry, occasions like this creates a buzz in us all. And it tells us that we're connected: this one school, many great teachers-and-friend, fondest of memories; all involved in shaping us.

You have taught us well.

Thank you, Brother.

1 comment:

Fire away! I'd like to know what's on your mind.

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