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Life and its unexpected turns

I’ve just heard the news from a neighbor- that a lady who became rich by selling porridge is now unfortunately bedridden  due to a sudden attack of stroke.

This lady have been selling porridge for years in the local market where I used to go. She is already enjoying brisk business as she was the only stall selling porridge in the area. A chance coverage from a local newspaper brought lots of business and awareness to her stall. She sold a few varieties of the porridge- fish, chicken and those that use the insides of a pig. Her porridge sold very well, sometimes finishing even before 11am. As I am not a porridge eater myself, I could not judge- but according to my mom, her porridge’s quite delicious.

You will be surprised at how much of money a hawker operating at a food stall can make in Malaysia. We had an old house which we used to rent to a man selling yau char koey and some other fried delicacies made more than enough to buy a beautiful house in Shah Alam more than 20 years ago- the time when not many people can easily afford a double storey nice house. This lady had a few bungalows under her name- just by selling porridge in the morning sessions. For about few years ago, she had started hiring foreign workers to do most of the labor tasks for her- so she had time to sit down and relax.

Perhaps it was due to too much of resting and uncontrolled eating that she was yet another unfortunate victim of a stroke attack. She had always been on the obese side and the stalls around her were selling cholesterol laden food such as Hokkien fried, fried mee, chicken rice, etc. Apparently this lady had been aware that she had some health problems but choose not to do anything about it.

This made me reflect- it is truly sad to make so much of money but never be able to enjoy it.

This brought back memories of my favourite auntie- my mom’s 5th sister who was also bedridden due to stroke and eventually passed away last year. She was bedridden, could not talk and could only move her eyes. Every other part of her body was immobile. My uncle had no choice but to put her on a nursing home while he goes to work as a driving instructor. My auntie had never bought any insurance but was fortunate to have a nephew (my cousin brother) who paid for all her nursing home expenses because he had a lot of gratitude as this auntie had took care of him when he was young- and today, he is a successful person.

My uncle went to the home to visit her everyday and personally cleaned her up. He sat with her and talked to her, with the same affection and tenderness that I’ve seen they had shared all my life. Two years being bedridden and not a single bed sore on her body. He took care of her really well.

Perhaps it is because in the span of just 5 years I had to watch 3 of my closest aunties passed away from different illness.  These ladies had been a big part of my childhood- mom used to take me on the minibuses (we had to switch buses because they stayed far away) to visit them- she would spend ages talking to them while I wondered by myself to explore the area- normally stopping at some shops to buy myself some candies. Later when I started working and could afford a car, I would drive her to see her sisters during weekends if I was free.

Loud ladies voices bantering in Hakka- the bond, and the sister fellowship- when something happened to someone and the rest of the sisters unite, joined forces to ‘protect the wounded’. When I was young, I used to find the atmosphere very noisy. But I’ve never realised how much I miss that kind of loud bantering atmosphere until recently I was a friend’s family house and heard a couple of aunties (who are sisters) being united and talking about how unfairly someone was treated in Hakka- and tears just flowed. Needless to say, it was a truly awkward situation.

That’s why I’ve learned life’s lessons that we should really take nothing in life for granted. Sure, we may be busting our guts working hard everyday to put food on the table, to travel and make those sales or to work in another city or country so that our family can be better off. But that does not mean that our personal life and relationships goes way back in cold storage till ‘things are better’ or ‘wait till I have more money then I will spent time with my family’. Sometimes kids grow up and you may lose that limited time that you can bond with them. Sometimes your loved one got tired of waiting for you to take notice.

Therefore, do your best to strike a balance. Make whatever limited time you have with your family quality time- instead of being transfixed on Astro’s Wah Lei Toi (cable TV’s local Chinese channels) during family times or mealtimes, take time to find out what goes on in the lives of your family members. Return phone calls or messages and don’t take friends for granted too. All relationships are build and are strengthen one call/visit at a time. Make sure the home is a place you and your family want to go back to- so never subject your family as your punching bag if your work is stressed or you are unhappy and dissatisfied.  It does not matter if your house is a humble but a little run down place- so long as it’s a place of warmth. I’ve been to some beautifully decorated homes that are nothing much than an eye piece that masked the unhappiness of family members that no longer knew one another.

Let yours be one of a happy and warm home that everyone wants to get together after a days’ work.

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