THIS Father’s Day, Luke Teoh would love to have a short holiday on a very quiet beach.
He is a father of three and a grandfather of five. Now, aged 74, he spends his time reading, writing and, when he can, precious time is spent with his grandchildren. This year, he published his eighth book – Anodynes of the Heart.
“I started writing books when I experienced bouts of depression after one of my former students started a groundswell against me. He was from a city school. I had never expected to be shown so much disrespect and ingratitude!
“On encountering negative-minded or hurtful people, my mind goes into overdrive to write. After I’ve managed to shrug off the incipient upset, I’ll think of the times when I was happiest and treated with much love. I’ll then write about those happy episodes in my life.
“I used to be rather touchy and would get hurt rather easily, but not anymore. I no longer react or feel upset whenever I encounter hurtful or nasty people. I remain totally calm and cool. I’m very confident of myself not to feel hurt or become upset now,” shares Teoh.
Writing is therapeutic for him.
Here is a poem from his book:
I write to bring inner peace
Should my mind go overdrive
When ennui overwhelms me
And depression comes calling.
I write to bring some happiness
Should my mind go overdrive
Pining for loved ones or friends –
Who love and respect me.
The response to his books has been good and, in fact, many friends and family members have come forward to sponsor his self-published books.
His seven other books are titled: Outpourings of the Heart, Rhapsodies of the Heart, Nostalgia of the Heart, Reflections of the Heart, Soliloquies of the Heart, Catharsis of the Heart, and Awakenings of the Heart.
It is hardly surprising that he should turn to writing as he used to be a teacher.
“I was trained as a teacher in the UK, but left teaching when the Aziz Education Report was implemented in Malaysia. I then joined a British publisher. Later, I was poached by another British publisher. Unfortunately, this publisher pulled its operations out of the country a few years later and I was retrenched (in 1987, on the day his youngest daughter was born). I found myself being too young to retire and too old to be re-employed in the publishing field, so I became a part-time lecturer at a language centre run by a former British Council officer. I gave this up after a few years and became a stay-at-home father to mind my young children,” explains Teoh.
He has two daughters and one son, all of whom live abroad. Family is very important to him.
“Cuddling my grandson Daniel always seems to evoke memories of carrying each of my three children in my arms when they were younger.
“It was this fantastic and peaceful feeling of having them in my arms that prompted me to refuse the different lucrative managerial positions that had been offered to me by friends over the years, after my retrenchment. My friends must have been greatly disappointed at my rejections of their help. I had opted to be a stay-at-home father, instead, so that I could always be with my young children.
“I have had no regrets of having rejected the jobs, although every one of them had promised great financial rewards with a lot of perks,” writes Teoh in his book.
Being of Teochew parentage, Teoh’s Catholic grandparents escaped religious persecution in China in the early 1890s and were brought, together with other Catholics and non-Catholics, to Malaya by a French priest to resettle in a village near Bukit Mertajam.
Although he had his early education in Penang, Teoh completed his secondary education at St Michael’s Institution in Ipoh, where he has remained since.
While he does not have much material wealth to leave behind for his children, there is no doubt as to the legacy he leaves them – not just his love for family, but also his commitment to the written word.
“An anodyne is anything that relieves distress or pain. For me, it has been music, reading and writing, gardening, DIY projects or sports.
“Writing has given me a lot of pleasure. I would like to encourage everyone to write. Just write anything that comes to your mind. Write for your own enjoyment. Very soon it will be a pleasant pastime,” says Teoh.