My late mother had always been the type who stressed on the importance of education. While she herself only had the opportunity to go to school up to primary level, she made sure her children were not deprived of higher level education. In her case, too bad she never had the opportunity to go any further, not because she didn’t want to, but because the mentality then was that “girls would end up in the kitchen anyway”. And she, being the eldest, had to give in to her younger siblings.
I thought my mother simply wasn’t lucky enough. All her younger siblings studied up to secondary level at least (2 went on to degree level) and eventually went on to become officers, teachers and clerks at the very least, while my mother got married when she was 17 and became a full time housewife.
But during my recent clinic duty, I met a 45 year old lady who could neither read nor write. Not because she was stupid, but because she never went to school. Not at all. I didn’t even bother to give her our brochure when I met her. There was no point. She wouldn’t have been able to read it.
Ah, but she could get someone else to read it for her, no? Well yes, if only she had someone who could read it for her. You see, this lady, despite having 5 siblings, no longer goes back to her family. The last time she did that, according to her they just reacted as though she wasn’t there, making her feel so left out. When I asked her what could be the reason, she said because they were all successful people while she couldn’t even read simple things. Well, at least, that’s her side of the story. I wouldn’t know her family’s version.
She now works as a cleaner with a pay of RM600/month, renting a room for RM120/month. She walks to work, and when she needs to go to the hospital for her appointments, she walks to the hospital. No family to go back to. It’s just her and herself.
Such a lonely life.
Wow! And I thought my late mother was unlucky? At least she still went to primary school, she could read and write. Hey, even my late grandma could read and write (even though she only started learning how to read and write much later in her life when the “kelas dewasa” was offered in my kampong).
And hey, both my mother and grandmother stayed with their own family.
Moral of the story? No matter how deprived we think we are of certain things in our lives, bear in mind, there are people out there who are worse off than us, who never had the opportunity to experience even the basic things we often take for granted.
So yes, be thankful for all the things we have, and for all the things we don’t have.