I had promised Sofie I’d be coming around 3 pm to bring her kids shop for their schooling needs. I actually reached their house at 3 pm sharp, only to see that there were 3 other people around and they were about to have lunch. Lunch? At 3 pm? Waaa… so late! Ika and Azman came out to help carry down some groceries from my car. Even Saiful came out, in his kain pelekat (he was just circumcised last week).
The other 3 people whom I had not met before were Sofie’s sister, brother-in-law and niece who came all the way from up north to visit Sofie.
Today’s visit exposed me to another thing about their family. Remember the older sister who Sofie had been staying with before this? Well, apparently Sofie wasn’t the only one who couldn’t really get along with that sister. This other sister couldn’t either due to the older sister’s mulut laser.
Although Sofie’s nephew (the older sister’s son) was the one that prompted Sofie to move out of the sister’s house; the sister actually preferred Sofie to stay with her so that she and her family could ‘tumpang sekaki’ whatever assistance Sofie got. She particularly knew about the assistance we Buddies had been giving Sofie. After Sofie moved out of the house, the sister started telling her other siblings that Sofie never gave her a single sen (in actual fact, whenever Sofie got any assistance from us, she’d share with her sister’s family). Now, even worse still, the sister had been telling the kampong folks that Sofie has HIV. As a result, Sofie stays inside her house most of the time, not wanting to show her face outside.
Sofie is now looking for another house – if possible she wants to move to another house in another taman – away from the present kampong where she stays.
As we were chatting, the older sister came (her house is within the same kampong). When she saw me, she started talking about her children not having any new clothes etc. I played dumb – an expertise I’ve been born with. :-)
Anyway, back to the purpose of my visit today - after about half an hour or so, they were finally ready to go out shopping. I was pleased to note that Sofie herself wanted to join us. Before this, due to her health, whenever I wanted to bring her children out anywhere, she never followed as she was too weak. Imagine the satisfaction I got upon seeing the improvement in the life of the lady whom I had been giving support to. Who says voluntary work doesn’t pay?
We were very lucky today… not only did we manage to get a car park under the shade, it was also right in front of the supermarket’s entrance! And the schooling needs too were placed right after the entrance. So, we didn’t have to worry about Sofie, or even Saiful (for today we called him the budak dalam pantang), having to walk too far.
Getting the uniforms and shoes weren’t too bad. But when it came to the school bags and stationeries section, Ika, the youngest girl, went rambang mata! Her 2 older siblings seemed very responsible though… they told their younger siblings that certain stationeries like pencils, erasers, pens, etc would be cheaper if bought in one pack and shared amongst the 4 of them. If it was up to Ika, she’d want one of everything to herself!
The total amount spent for the 4 of them today? RM587-85. Definitely an amount Sofie wouldn’t be able to afford to if it was up to her. Oh, her older sister’s gonna be so jealous if she hears about this…
I had initially wanted to bring them for minum-minum after shopping, but due to Ika’s ‘rambang mata’ness, we finished rather late. So I just sent them home. As we brought the things down from my car, Sofie’s sister (the one visiting from up north) and her husband, who were still around, said, “Terima kasihlah kak, tolong tengok-tengokkan dia orang ni. Harapkan kami, kami pun cukup makan je.”
Well, that’s one round of shopping done. Next round will be on Monday – for Yati’s children…