TW: mention of suicide
Note: this title is published in Malay
Syasya is a high school teacher who doesn’t really love, or even particularly like, her job. Like many Malaysians I’ve met, she finished high school with no particular passion or goal in life, so when her father suggested teaching, she agreed, as it wasn’t as if there was anything she’d rather do. When faced with the reality of teaching, however, Syasya began to think twice.
High school students, after all, could be terrible. And faced with them day in and day out, forced to make them care about their classes when she never cared herself, Syasya wondered if it was too late to change her mind. “I never wanted to be a teacher anyway,” she thought to herself. The teenagers in her class might as well be aliens, they were so hard to understand… until she wakes up one day with the ability to read their thoughts.
Her discovery didn’t start out that bad. At first, it was a nuisance, but after awhile Syasya realised that she wasn’t hearing every thought that came across every single person. Only thoughts that are very strong, or passionate, would get broadcasted to her. Which was how she found out that one of her students was planning to kill himself. She tried to help him, but not being experienced, she wasn’t that good at it. Thankfully, Hakim, another teacher at her school, was there to smooth things out. Hakim is the resident “hot male teacher” that all the girls had crushes on, but Syasya never liked him – mainly because he always referred to her as short and shallow. Unlike Syasya, he took his work seriously and is a good teacher. And as Syasya learns about more students’ problems and helped them (sometimes with the guidance of Hakim, or one of the other teachers at school), she finds herself beginning to understand the importance of her work, and that education is about more than what’s in the textbooks.
I discovered the first volume of Paradigma Guru last year, and the second volume was only released earlier this year. This second volume focuses on Hari Kantin (Canteen Day), which is a part of our high school life here in Malaysia. On Hari Kantin, each class would sell food or do a haunted house or things like that. We also put on performances at the school hall. I guess it’s something like the school festivals in manga, but everything happens in one day (I don’t remember, how long do the school festivals last?).
While the students are preparing for Hari Kantin, Syasya encounters a few problems (and problem students) to fix, which she was starting to get used to. However, the school principal was retiring, and it seems like he and Puan Yati (an older teacher who acts as a mentor to Syasya, and who had transfered to a different school) had chosen Syasya and Hakim as their replacements… for something. But what, exactly? This volume doesn’t reveal. And at the same time, we are introduced to the physics teacher, Eddie, who is Hakim’s best friend. Syasya looks him up when Hakim’s on medical leave to find out what’s wrong, and he brings up something she had never heard of before, a “Kem Digarhayu” (Camp Digarhayu; “digarhayu” means something like longevity), and is surprised that she had no memory of it. The second volume ends with Eddie telling Hakim about this, and Hakim revealing to Syasya (who is beginning to lose her telepathy for unknown reasons) that he, too, could hear people’s thoughts.
I suspect that the camp and whatever that’s going on between the principal and Puan Yati would explain Syasya and Hakim’s telepathy, but I guess I won’t know until I read the later volumes. The third volume is expected to be out later this year, or early next year, according to the publisher.
The reason I picked up the first volume was because of the art – it’s cute, and manga-like while still remaining local. There are a lot of local comic creators who do completely manga style work, and even take up Japanese nicknames – and some of their work are really good, but I guess when I pick up a local comic, I wanted at least a bit of the local flavour. While the art and paneling in Paradigma Guru definitely have a manga vibe, the characters and story are very Malaysian.
Here are a couple of pictures from the book (not scanned; photo taken from my phone, so I’m sorry about the quality!):
I read this for the #AsianLitBingo, for the South East Asian MC square. To know more about the challenge, visit the master post.