Disclaimer: This is posted already as a guest post, but I just wanted to post it here as a remembrance of this post.
What… My brain took some time to digest the question, it was associated with one of the formulas on Taylor’s or Maclaurin’s, I could not recall the form of the formula because I did not fully comprehend the concept. If you could not utterly understand something in Maths, it meant that you could not write out the formulas needed, this is Maths. I scrambled out of my chair in frustration, searched through the pile of notes. That’s it. I skimmed through the piece of working paper realising it was not what I wanted. Why does this look so familiar…? A pang of nostalgia hit me like a truck, a wave of reminisce sent me into a beautiful reverie.
It was a Wednesday, immediately after school, I rushed to my grandma’s house to clean myself and have lunch in approximately fifteen minutes. “Yang…! You will be late for your tuition! Hurry up!” my grandma had to scream at my all the time because I would slag and be late to tuition. I detested the tuition which I had to attend after that because it was a Maths tuition, a mental abuse to human course which I had to take because I failed miserably in the subject.
I had to walk to the tuition, a ten minute walk, every step was agonising, each step I took, the closer I was to the disdainful period of the week. But, little did I know how Maths was.
I rang the doorbell, “Late again, Mr. Yang.” Teacher Liang said in a sarcastic tone while she opened the door for me, “You wanna be late, I won’t lose anything, you will lose your time and money, that’s all.” she sneered. I walked in with my head kept as low as possible.
“Erhmm!” She cleared her throat as I entered. “You haven’t greeted me yet, Mr. Yang.”
“Good afternoon, teacher Liang.” I said meekly, hiding my tone of bitterness to her and Maths.
As I was sitting down, she started explaining the new chapter of the syllabus in school, “Today, we are going to talk about angles and parallel lines, there are three simple…” my mind simply drifted off to another dimension, “Yang! Do you get it?” I nodded.
She handed me a few questions and I started doing it in my sketchbook. The perks of being in her tuition was that I did not need to bring so many things, just a water bottle, a book for doing her work, and a pencil. She never liked the idea of doing Maths using pens because it would be very messy when you wanted to correct your workings.
When I let her checked my work, a searing pain would be sent forth to my forehead, everytime. She would use the marker pen to hit my head because my workings were either too short or a stupid mistake was made like forgetting to swap the signs from the negative to positive and vice versa when moving the unknowns across the equation, or making simple arithmetic mistakes.
There were times when I stopped at certain questions for too long, she would tell me the time and how much time I had wasted. On and on, I hate the fact of wasting time. Thus, I learnt to think faster and from more scenarios of solving some difficult questions. There were times when I was worn out from school then I had to attend her class, my mind was not in place, I was stuck when solving trivial questions, she would again remind me how much time I had wasted.
“Why not we make a bet?” It was on a random Wednesday,” If you could solve this question within half an hour, you would get a void from homework, or else your workload would be doubled.”
“Deal.” I answered without any hesitation. She handed me the question and mentioned about the whereabouts the question was from and the time I started doing the question. The questions were challenging for me at that time, and usually taken from prestigious schools like Chung Hwa or Methodist or Victoria, those were the pinnacle schools in Malaysia, and the questions were guaranteed to pummel your brain, and blast it into smithereens.
I did not win the deal, I kept challenging her week after week, but I ended up with piles of homework for the week. The work kept me busy even during school periods, I had to do her work during school time, and looked up for things that I did not really understand from the internet.
Things got harder and harder. I did not give up, I hate giving up on stuffs that impressed me, instead I chose to pick up the gauntlet, challenging myself to do things that were ‘far-fetched’ considered by other people.
Khan Academy was the place I ended up with, from things which were from the Malaysian education syllabus to the world wide standard, I realised how far back Malaysian education were compared to the world, we were three years behind other countries. I started to learn things which were beyond my level.
When I went to tuition, teacher Liang acknowledged that I had done things beyond Malaysian standard because I would ask her questions which I wanted some explanation, she started me with even tougher questions. She changed her approach to me by teaching me to be a heuristic learner. I was completely oblivious about what I was becoming and I thought everything was normal.
Every week, my heart was more eager to go there, to learn more about Maths, to become better in Maths. Ten months past in a blink of an eye, I covered everything in SPM syllabus of Maths when I was fifteen. In the period of time, I learnt partial differentiation, and the most beautiful equation in Maths, Euler’s identity. That was when I fell in love with Maths.
Maths is beautiful. Even though sometimes I did not understand what I was learning, Maths is still beautiful, just give me some time, and the concept would be imparted in me.
“Tell me about Goldbach’s conjecture.” I asked teacher Liang.
“I have no idea…” that’s her limit, she can’t help me anymore…
“Before we end our last lesson…” she said abruptly, “since we can’t comply with each others’ time, I would leave you here, you are way better that most of my students, hope you can do better in Maths in future.”
It was the first time she complimented me.
“Remember to do Maths one hour per day, accumulatively you might excel faster than other people.”
“Thank you, Teacher Liang.”
She left me with an aspiration to become a mathematician, to not waste time, and to see how beautiful Maths is.
I am still doing Maths despite my attempt to build up relationships with other people failed, but Maths never ceased to keep my mind in bewilderment. The most satisfying moment when doing Maths is the “AHA” moment after you cracked your head over a concept for hours.
Maths is beautiful. I believed that God is also a mathematician based on intuition. Thus, I thrive to become a mathematician who could create a formula which could benefit the mankind, and maybe to become “God’s Mathematician”.
The moment I fell in love with Maths,
And never lost touch of it until now.
Maths is beautiful.