I had initially promised the lady from the club sponsoring groceries for Lin’s and Sofie’s families that I’d meet up with her at the minimarket at 2.30 pm today when I get the stuff to be delivered to Lin. However, by noon she said she couldn’t make it that early and would only be able to make it after 4 pm. So I figured I might as well just get the groceries and deliver them to Lin; and then go back to the minimarket to take photos to be shown during the club’s AGM next month.
Earlier in the morning I had given the list of groceries to the minimarket owner. Lin had informed me that she still had some of the stuff sent last month, and asked if I could replace those stuff with other things. So yeah, I took out the things which she still has, and added some other things. I noticed vermicelli was not included in the list for the past 2 months, so that was one of the things added to the new list. I didn’t mention the quantity lah… little did I know that there would be enough vermicelli for a party!!
Anyway, right after all the items were put in my car, I immediately headed to Lin’s house. I had told her earlier I’d be coming today. She is, after all, no longer selling pisang goreng (please refer my earlier story here for the reason) so she should be home.
Her youngest daughter was in school but her 15 year old son was home, so he helped to carry all the stuff from my car. I asked where her older son was… Lin said he just started work about 2 weeks ago in another town. Great! Even better still, according to Lin, while usually he couldn’t care less whatever happened to his mom when he was home, now that he’s staying elsewhere, he calls to ask how she’s doing. Ibu manalah yang tak suka…
Lin is supposed to undergo a fibroid operation in a week’s time; but when I asked her today, she said, “Saya rasa saya nak tangguh dulu lah kak.”
“Kenapa pulak nak tangguh?!”
“Saya takutlah kak…”
“Habis tu, kalau tangguh engko ingat boleh hilang takut tu ke?”
I told Lin about the many ladies I knew who had undergone the same surgery and how good they are doing now. While I encouraged her to just go through the op, I told her it was up to her to decide, but since the hospital had already fixed a date next week, if indeed she decides to postpone, she’d better inform the doctors soon!
On another note, I was happy to note that Lin is beginning to get monthly financial assistance from the agency dealing with zakat. What I wasn’t happy about was what she had to go through to get it.
Lin had actually submitted her application more than a year ago. I remember during one of my visits to her house, she did mention that she had to “buat muka tak malu minta bantuan” after she was hospitalised for a month and lost her job because of that. Having been too dependent on her ex-husband before this, Lin had to actually start from scratch to make a living.
Back to the application, Lin would from time to time enquire about her application to the officers, the same standard answer she got was, “Benda ni memang lambat. Mungkin dalam setahun baru lulus.” When it was already a year and she’d enquire again, the answer was, “Oh, setahun pun belum tentu puan.”
Coincidentally one fine day, a newspaper reporter happened to be interviewing the guy who allowed Lin to share his drinks stall for her pisang goreng business. Since the interview was done at the stall, the guy told the reporter that Lin too needed to voice out some problems and so the reporter agreed to interview her too. All Lin wanted to know was the status of her application. So yeah, Lin’s story was published in the newspaper, and the very next day, the top officer at the agency visited Lin personally at her stall, and told her to come to their office. Lin went to their office, and one of the lower ranking staff dealing direct with the public, asked her to fill in another form as they had lost her earlier application. Then suddenly another staff came along and told them that he had found her form, together with all the supporting documents including the letter from the doctor. Duh! No wonder things didn’t get moving!
Not long after that, Lin got a letter saying that her application had been approved and that she’d be getting a certain amount each month. Alhamdulillah, Lin was happy that at least she has some additional income to support her family. The letter gave her high hopes.
After a month, there was nothing yet. She went to the office to ask, and was told to just be patient. After 2 months, she enquired again… still nothing. By then Lin had some additional health problems and was told by the doctor to take a good rest. She had to take a break from her business. And by the time she wanted to start back her business, the guy who had earlier allowed her to share the stall, told her he wanted the space back for his own business.
Lin began to get worried about how to pay for house rental, utilities and other basic needs. It had almost been 3 months since she got the approval letter and she had yet to receive any cash. Then she remembered she had kept the phone number of the reporter who interviewed her earlier. So she called the reporter, not to ask for the matter to be published in the newspaper again, but to seek her help if she could make a call to the higher ranking officer to enquire. What Lin didn’t know was that the reporter ended up having the matter published in the newspaper again!
And whaddaya know… the very next day Lin received a call from the people at the agency. One of the guys asked her why she had her story in the papers again – Lin herself was surprised upon hearing that. But anyway, she was told by one of the higher ranking officers to come to their office the next day.
Lin went, and was told that the particular officer was out. There was only one guy manning the counter then and when he somehow figured Lin was the woman mentioned in the papers, the guy said, “Ohh… akaklah yang keluarkan cerita dalam suratkhabar tu ya?!”
Lin told him she didn’t know anything about the newspaper report, to which he responded, “Eleh… sudahlah kak! Kalau bukan akak yang bagi izin keluarkan cerita tu, takkan keluar dalam suratkhabar punya!”
Officer: “Ni hah, surat ni kan dah sebut bantuan akak dah lulus. Apa lagi akak nak?”
Lin: “Saya tak kata pun bantuan saya tak lulus. Saya cuma nak tahu bila boleh mula dapat bantuannya!”
Officer: “Akak ingat akak sorang je yang susah? Yang perlu bantuan?!”
Lin: “Saya tak kata pun saya sorang je yang susah!”
Officer: “Ah sudahlah kak, baik akak balik aje!”
By this time, Lin’s tears were already flowing. But she refused to budge from the office. She was there because someone from the office told her to come.
Officer: “Balik ajelah kak. Kalau tak nanti saya repot polis nak?”
Lin: “Repotlah. Hantar saya masuk penjara. Tapi nanti kamu tolonglah bagi makan anak saya 6 orang tu!”
Officer: “Akak tau tak, kami boleh saman akak tau, pasal keluarkan cerita bukan-bukan pasal kami dalam suratkhabar tu?”
Lin: “Hah, samanlah. Bukannya saya mampu nak bayar pun. Lagipun bukan saya yang suruh keluarkan cerita tu kat suratkhabar!”
Officer: “Ah! Sudahlah! Kalau bukan akak yang buat cerita, tak keluar suratkhabar nya!”
Despite the tears in her eyes, and despite the fact that Lin is a very sensitive person, Lin persisted. She had the phone number of the reporter kept in her phone, and so there and then she called the reporter. The reporter, upon hearing the tone of Lin’s voice (Lin was crying), and upon being told the problem, told Lin not to go anywhere and to wait for her at the office. The reporter coincidentally was on her way to cover an assignment nearby and decided to stop by the office to help Lin out.
The officer heard the conversation. The moment he found out that the reporter was coming, he immediately went in, and came out again with a form to be filled in and signed by Lin, before releasing the cash to Lin. YA AMPUUN!! The cash was already there! When the higher ranking officer asked Lin to come to the office, it was to get her monthly aid. This particular officer at the counter however, made life miserable for Lin just because Lin was the woman mentioned in the newspaper, giving a bad name to the agency (and probably getting him a scolding from the higher up officers). Imagine if Lin had actually gone back the first time the officer told her to!
Anyway, within 15 minutes, the reporter arrived at the office. When asked by the reporter why he scolded Lin, the officer denied everything – right in front of Lin’s face!
Lin: “Yang tadi awak marah saya suruh saya balik tu apa?”
Officer: “Eh, mana ada?”
Adoi, geramnya akuuuuu… but ah well, you don’t expect the reporter to believe him, do you?
I guess initially the officer didn’t expect Lin to be contacting the reporter direct. And at that time, other officers were not in the office, so he thought he was in power lah kot! The moment he knew the reporter was coming, he probably got worried that another negative news would come out in the next day’s papers, so he immediately turned helpful!
Well, the next time Lin went to the office, the same officer entertained Lin, and this time, he was nice to Lin. He even asked when Lin would have to undergo her operation.
Alright… so you get entertained only when you know the right people huh?
Sheeesh! To think that he’s actually PAID to do the job!