1. Some time between 2001 and 2002 (when I was in form 4 or 5), my Malay language teacher, Mr Kipli, taught us about the need to use a suitable Malay translation for English expression.
2. Mr Kipli used the word "beyond death" as an example. What would be the perfect Malay translation for that?
3. He recalled having seen a movie the other night, the translation provided was "hampir mati". It drew a good laugh from all of us.
4. Syazana Sofia, daughter of Dato' Seri Mustapha Mohamed (Tok Pa, now serves as MITI Minister, but was then the Education Minister), quipped that it should be translated as "nyawa-nyawa ikan". This drew a stronger laugh from us.
5. Mr Kipli went on to explain that the most appropriate translation should be "di ambang maut". All of us seemed to agree with his answer.
6. Almost 14 years later today, I came to realize that Mr Kipli's answer was a bit off the mark. It was not a precise translation, it was precisely a wrong translation.
7. "Beyond death" doesn't translate into "di ambang maut". "Near death" is "di ambang maut". "Beyond death" is what happens when we cross death. Not before it.
8. This simple example illuminates the importance of continually re-educating ourselves. I read somewhere yesterday that re-education is more important than education.
9. Never stop questioning. Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.