Thursday, August 02, 2012

A Letter From An Old Michaelian

By Rohan Marshall, Petaling Jaya (The Star, July 30, 2012)
I SUPPOSE it had to happen some day. The seemingly immortal person of Noel d’Oliveiro (pic) has passed on to a better place.
Noel holds a very special place in the hearts of thousands of those who studied under him or played hockey under him at St Michael’s Institution (SMI) Ipoh or the Main Convent.
He was a teacher and coach who made many feel important, no matter how rich or poor we were.
He subliminally inculcated human values in us, not by incessantly preaching to bored ears, but by inspiring us on the hockey field.
He taught us punctuality by always being one of the first on the field. We wanted to come early just so that we could spend a few extra moments with this adult who made us kids feel so important.
He taught us patience by never losing control, no matter how unfair the conduct of the referee or opposing players.
He taught us that great persons and teams can be built by inspiration and hard work rather than by intimidation.
He taught us the value of dignity and character by standing tall both in victory and failure on the pitch.
He taught us courage by playing on without complaining, no matter how badly his back hurt.
He taught us muhibah, to rise above our race and religion and love each other equally. To enjoy each other.
He taught us generosity, by always having time to share with us, even the quietest and most unattractive of us.
I was a quiet, gawky kid trying to get along in a tough world. Noel slowly, gently and steadily helped build up my confidence and courage.
I thought I was the only one who was special to him, who needed his help to bring out my own specialness.
When I grew up and looked back, I realised how many countless others he did the same for. And we all felt individually special.
Master Noel, as you move on, we celebrate your life, and your place in our hearts.

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