Jumaat lepas Zaim mendapat undangan 'sleep over' di perpustakaan sekolah. Ini atas kejayaan dia mengumpul markah lebih dua ratus bagi buku yang dibaca sepanjang penggal persekolahan yang akan berakhir dalam seminggu dua ini.
'Congratulations boy! I know you wanted this since way back then. Well done', kata ku mengucap tahniah. Jarang aku begini, tapi aku rasa ini memang dia layak.
'But, Ayah, Daniel still got the highest points. I only got second best in my class' kata Zaim separuh kecewa separuh merungut. 'I want to get the highest points' sambung dia.
'That's okay la. You got the invitation anyway. Isn't that what you wanted?' tanya aku cuba mengurang kekecewaan dia.
'Yeah, but it's not the same' Zaim masih tak puas hati.
'Zaim, the purpose of the exercise was actually to make you read the books. So that you will learn and know about so many things that only those books can give you. I think you enjoyed the books you read. And that you learned some stuff. To me the exercise has achieved that target and served its purpose to make you a better informed person. I think you should be thankful instead of disappointed' hujah aku panjang. Ini nanti meleret-leret ke lain pulak.
'But, Ayah, I am not No. 1'kata Zaim. 'I am not good enough'.
Alamak, ini kena panjang lebar jugak la. Ini nak kena perah otak sikit.
'Okay la 'Im, let me talk to you about the advantage of being No.2 or second best. When you are at the top, it never means that you have done the best or achieved perfection. You always, always, need to strive further. But, people, human tend to forget that. When they reached the top, they tend to think that they are the best. They become arrogant and look down on others. They think they are great and believe in the fallacy of greatness. Sooner or later they will fall. As all that's up will always come down'. Panjang lebar aku huraikan. Nak habis dah otak aku.
'So' Zaim mencelah sambil memandang muka aku. 'La...ada lagi', pikir hati aku.
'So, if you are No 2, that kind of things are very hard to occur. Unless you are a moron'.
'An idiotic moron?' tanya Zaim mencelah lagi.
'A moronic idiot' tingkah aku sambil menjeling.
Aku sambung lagi, 'At No.2, you can't think you are the best 'cause there is always someone on top. There's always another step up for you to go. There's always someone who sets an example. Here you will gain for the person's experience. You learn the best possible way by avoiding the errors committed earlier'.
'And while you are struggling, you will also see those people down there who are struggling to go to the top just like you, struggling to reach the level you are in. And this is where it gets better.'
' Why? 'cause we can crush them" Heh! Heh! Heh!' Zaim menyebuk lagi sambil menyengeh.
'No la you babbling buffon! You help them. You pity them, you symphatize with them because you know what they are going through as you experienced that before. And with that you help yourself to be a better person. Helping others is always a good thing especially when there is no reward. It is a reward by itself'
'So, you see I don't see anything wrong with you being at No.2. I see only the best things coming for you in future. Remember, ok' ku habiskan ceramah dalam kepenatan.
'Humm, you are just like Calvin's dad. Sometimes you make sense, But, most of the time, not. I can't really figure you out Ayah.'
'Think of me as the ugly old brute you got to live with. It builds character anyway', jawab aku selamba aja. Apa maknanya aku tak tau.
'Whatever la Ayah'.