This is not going to be a happy post and it’s photo-less too. Not that I am unhappy. In fact I am now very happy and contented. True, I was lonely a couple of nights ago but that was temporary.
I have been wanting to write this a long time ago, but I was afraid that I might hurt certain people’s feelings. On the other hand, I am close to 50 yrs old, I might not live long enough to have the opportunity to tell this to you (whoever is reading my blog). Today after reading a sad status of someone that I care on Facebook, I am moved to write a bit about myself, or rather about my past. I hope by doing so, I would be able to motivate that person to strive on and be strong to face life.
I used to tell my students about my past. My past is never meant to be a secret.It normally started when I tried to advise my students, and I got responses that are something like this: “It’s easy for you maam, because your life is good!” How wrong they were. And that would be the catalyst to a long history lesson for them .
I was adopted, as I once blogged here, but I didn’t know I was adopted, until I was about to get married. The only parents I knew worked hard to make ends meet, but they never made me realise that I came from a poor family! They provided well for me. I never knew that a bus driver earned so much less than many other people. I remember how I used to stand up in class, loudly and proudly tell the class that my father was a bus driver, each time we had to tell about ourselves and our families.
The only mother I knew (though not my biological mother) passed away in Mecca when I was in Form 1 (I was 13 years old), and my father passed away 2 months before my MCE (equivalent to “O-level”) examinations. I just turned 17.
My parents had children from previous marriages, but between them they only had me. I have 2 brothers from my mum’s previous marriage. One was not so poor but was hardly nice to me (that’s the reason I do not go back to my home town) while the other was very nice but poor. I always had the impression that the former never liked me. When I became the state best student for LCE (equivalent to PMR) I received a lot of congratulatory wishes from friends and neighbours alike. But what did that brother say to me? I still remember the cynical remark very well: “Pah mu raso mu biso lah?” (So you think you are so great then?). A neighbour said to me, if my mum was still alive, there would be a big feast from her to celebrate my success…
When I was at the final stage of getting the scholarship to study in Australia (well before I sat for my MCE), the same brother’s remark was (translated) “so you think you are so good to get the scholarship?). I remember he was reluctant to pay for my MCE examinations fees. I was lucky because I was one of the 4 Petronas scholars (for upper secondary school), and Petronas really took good care of us including paying for our examination fees!
His negative attitude towards me continued well into my marriage. By then I was indifferent towards him. I did help pay for some of his kids education but I did so because I kept on telling myself that they are my late mum’s grandchildren.
Apart from losing my mum when i was only 13, I also had 2 step-mums! The first one lasted for less than 2 years, but the second one lasted until my father’s demise. During the last few months of my father’s life, he was quite poor, and had his wife and 2 small kids to fend for (one from his wife’s previous marriage). He asked me to ask for help from the brother I mentioned above (to dad, it was quite fair because dad took care of him from the age of 9 until he got married), but getting money from him (my brother) was very very difficult. Most of the time I survived on the scholarship money, or money given to me by my close friends, cousins and aunties. Yes, I did have aunties and cousins who were sympathetic towards me, and they remain my close and loved ones.
Financial problems, emotional problems, you name it! My studies declined, but luckily it wasn’t that bad, hence I managed to secure a scholarship to study in Australia.
When I was about to fly to austalia, I asked that brother, how would he send me off. His answer was very demotivating, and again I remember it very well: “if you take the bus, I’ll send you to Kota Bharu, if you take the train, I’ll send you to the train station”. He was referring to the trip to Kuala Lumpur. At that time, Kota Bharu was easily 12 hours drive away from Kuala Lumpur. Most families would hire a car and come down to Kuala Lumpur to send their kids to the airport.
How on earth did he think I, a 17 -year old girl would find her way to the airport (which she had never been to?). I decided to leave from my auntie’s house in Muar (Johor) because my cousin (demised many many years ago) had promised to send me to Subang Airport if I were to leave from there. What do I get from my brother? A scolding for being biased towards my aunties in Muar!! How could I not be so? They showered me with all the love I craved for!
My auntie was only a rubber tapper. My cousin was a government clerk who owned a very old Volkswagon. They told me, they could help me as much as they could, as long as it didn’t involve money, which was scarce to them. Despite that, my auntie had a kenduri doa selamat for me the night before we left for Kuala Lumpur (airport).
Much later, when I was already working they told me that the volkswagon broke down in Port Dickson on their way home! The car never travelled that far before that, so maybe it was too much for it. There was only “Senawang-Air Keroh” highway, while the rest was done using the old federal road!
I still remember the night at the airport. While all my other friends were well dressed in 3-piece suits that their parents ordered for them, I was only wearing a pair of Peter& Jeannie cotton jeans, a simple blouse and my prefect’s (school) blazer! Luckily the scholarship officer didn’t seem to mind my casual appearance!
Oh, where was my other brother, you might be wondering… He was very poor then, but his heart was (and still is) full of love. I didn’t like to trouble him, but most of the time, he was always there for me. He visited me at the hostel regularly. Each time he came, just before he left, he would take out his wallet, counted his money. If there was RM10, he would give me RM5 and said to me he would use the other RM5 to buy fish for him to hawk the following day!
He was very angry when I told him what the other brother said to me. So he went to see his brother, and he said to him “If you are too busy to send our little sister off, give me some money. I need to buy the bus ticket and I want to send her off!”. That’s right, at the airport, I saw him waiting and smiling at me. Even now, 30 years on, i’m still chocked with emotions when I think of that night. He came in patched shirt but stood proud of me. He related to me how he went to see the other brother and got the bus-fare money from him!!
The moment I set foot on the Aussie soil, I said to myself, “I am in charge of my life now. It’s up to me what I want my future to be”. And the rest is history….
I always tell people I can forgive, but I will never forget.Our history is a big factor to what we are and how we feel today, trust me!! And now I think you will understand why close friends and caring relatives are of utmost importance to me!
If you’ve been following my blog, you would know that I still visit that brother who now lives in the house I grew up, though I no longer spend my night there.
I’ll continue my story later, if I feel i am up to it, hence no promise of “to be continued”
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