Kindness Without Conditions

A friend shared with me her family feud. Her jobless brother moved in to stay with them temporarily but somehow, he didn’t even bother to go look for a job. It’s been a year and he and his family basically free loads in her house. Further the brother’s wife really took over the household as if she’s the owner and treated their maid of 10 years, whom they care for like a family member, like a dog.

Some people simply don’t know what “gratitude” is.

Her story reminded me of what happened to my family some 20 years ago. At that time, I was still in secondary school when my mom’s cousin brothers moved in to stay with us. One of them worked at the UK’s psychiatric ward so he was a little off in his minds. The other brother is a vagabond as at age 50, he still hasn’t got a proper job to his name. He basically lives off this brother in UK.

So, when the insane brother is sick and couldn’t work anymore, he suggested him to return to Malaysia for good. Instead of going back to their own siblings, they turned to us instead because NONE of the siblings offered the two a place to stay.

My first aunt, Aunt Kim told us, we cannot turn them away. Before Aunt Kim started her hair salon, she went to Ipoh to learn hair styling. Turned out, her hair styling aunt in Ipoh abused her by just asking her to wash the hair towels with bleach until both her hands were infected with eczema. After work, she had to help out in the kitchen to cook and worse, had to wash all the dishes and also the clothes of the family. It’s basically a free maid service. The abuse went on for a year and Aunt Kim didn’t learn anything at all but both her hands were coarse and skin peeling from the endless washing.

Then, the mother of these two siblings took charge. Let’s call her 2nd Kim Poh. 2nd Kim Poh scolded the hair styling aunt and decided to take my first aunt under her wings. 2nd Kim Poh sent Aunt Kim to go learn about hair styling with some other salons.Aunt Kim was really grateful to this aunt who helped her. In return, Aunt Kim always helped her in the kitchen and also household chores. After a year, Aunt Kim returned to Port Weld to start her hair salon. Unfortunately, before my Aunt Kim could repay her kindness, 2nd Kim Poh died.

In order to repay the kindness shown by the siblings’ mom, Aunt Kim decided to take both the siblings in. Eventually, the psychotic uncle was sent to Port Weld to stay because we worried for his whereabout in Kuala Lumpur if he ever gets lost. Port Weld would be smaller and easier to monitor his whereabouts.

However, we guess we were wrong. He created so much troubles being in Port Weld. Some of the things were too embarrassing to even put in this blog! The final straw that broke the camel’s back was when he threw a lit cigarette on the roof of our house and almost set it on fire!

After a terrifying 6 months, eventually, the brother sent the insane brother back to UK – since they have this unemployment benefit and also, since he worked before for the government over there, he’s entitled to pension. I don’t understand why can’t they just stay in the UK earlier for good?!

Then, some months later, the brother came back to Malaysia while leaving the insane brother alone in the UK. Not long after that, the insane brother committed suicide by jumping onto the track of an oncoming train.

The brother had to go back to UK to retrieve his body and perform final rites for him. After that incident, suddenly, all his siblings appeared out of nowhere, to show concern. Actually, more like all waiting for his insurance claims so that they could get a piece of goodies all to themselves! Seriously, I am appalled!! Where are you when your own brother needs you the most? Where are you when he’s in such terrible condition! You are his own sibling and yet you neglected him!

Well, as for my aunt Kim, she said, at least we have done our best to give the insane brother some forms of comfort, a few months before his death. She had done her best to repay whatever kindness that his mom, 2nd Kim Poh had shown her in her earlier years and she has no regrets.

May God have mercy on his soul.

Knowing Your Roots Part III

… continuation…

As my mom and third aunt were working at the amusement park at night, they asked around if anybody would want to buy the house off their hands, so they could settle for the house in Port Weld.The lady boss knew that they were desperate for cash and offered them half of the value of the property. Another evil bitch. Luckily, they were not that crazy to sell the property lower than market value.

My grief stricken grandma took a boat to the other side of the river to pray to the gods. She usually would go pray at the temple concerning all needs and also “kao chim”.This time, she asked if she should keep the house in Taiping Garden and forgo this one in Port Weld. So should she be selling the Taiping Garden house to buy up the Port Weld house.

The temple priest took a look at her “chim” and said calmly to her that, she has nothing to worry about because she will get to keep two houses for herself! My grandma was not convinced and she just returned home, with down cast head of defeat and feeling totally downtrodden.

It was then my first aunt decided to try her luck on buying 4D. Truthfully enough, my aunt struck the first prize of RM5,000!! So almost half of their burden was gone! They now need to look for the additional RM3,500 to pay the neighbour. With good reputation, my grandma managed to borrow money from friends and relatives (except the douchebag grandaunt).

In the end, they managed to purchase the house – which proudly stands till today along the busy Trump Road, and our point of gathering during festivities.

My mom and her sisters are quite well known in Port Weld for their tenacious and industrious characters. The old school generation usually would prefer sons to daughters. My grandma and grandpa had only one son, who was still young when all these were happening. So the family totally relied on four sisters to make things happened for them and they appeared triumphant in the end.

My mom and aunt said, they were probably the first to defy all odds working in the amusement park while safeguarding their modesty – as many people would jeer on girls working at amusement park and aligned them to be in the same category as prostitutes. When villagers’ tongues wagged, my grandma was concerned but my mom said to her mom – “Are those gossipers going to pay for the food on our table and the roof over our heads? We are doing a decent job and nothing hanky panky.” It was at the amusement park that my mom met my father.

When my grandpa passed away, the sisters managed to give him a decent sent off, with a whole roasted pig as well – which was kinda a big deal during that time. Some families, even with sons could not afford to give their dead old folks a decent burial.

I had a long and deep contemplation of what my mom and aunts had to go through in their early lifetimes so that their next generation would have a much brighter future. I feel rather remorseful that, even with so many things being handed to me since I was born without me asking, I couldn’t even achieve half of what they had done. I really feel like a failure.

I guess the only thing I could do now, is to be as filial as I could be to them, so that they would have a better remaining lives on earth, hopefully another 50 more years! I must be more patient when dealing with old people – be understanding that they are naggy and they will always be naggy.. and explain things clearly without losing any temper. I am sure one day, when they are no longer there to nag us, we will miss them tremendously. So, I guess I rather be nagged than having to spend the days in silence and void of the voices of the ladies who had made such a great impact in their lives as well as ours. May God bless the four sisters always, for their courage and perseverance.

Knowing Your Roots Part II

As the story continues…

My mom and her sisters had been enduring psychological and physical torture, living under the mercy of this evil landlady. They harbored hopes that, they could move out of the hell hole immediately. They worked hard and saved every sen they had for their house fund. They managed to buy a place, which was still under construction during the time in Taiping Garden – where I spent my initial 13 wander years.

Another horror story was, my grandfather was stricken with stroke when he was in his late 40s. So he couldn’t walk properly, he would still walk, dragging his leg along. One day, they were busy hawking refreshments and food during a festival, so they ran out of sugar water and rojak paste, so they told my eldest aunt to bring them the stock. Before leaving the house, she informed her father (my sick grandpa) not to walk anywhere and she would be back in a jiffy.

Knowing that the poor old man was left alone to his vices, the evil aunt of the landlady started to wash the whole house and flooded the floors, with malicious intention that if my sickly grandpa stood up to walk about, he would slip and probably got himself killed! I am sick to the stomach learning this story!

My eldest aunt rushed home and horrified to find the entire lower ground was flooded and my grandma’s things, left on the floor were all wet! They had to spend the whole night cleaning up after a long day hawking.

Seeing my aunt and family in agony, living with morons from hell, the next door neighbour’s wife, who was also my aunt’s loyal hair customer took a pity on my aunt and family that she offered them a place to rent instead. And she offered a rather cheaper rent, Rm50 for two rooms instead of the current rent of RM80 for two rooms.

The next door’s house was currently rented out to people who were banished from their home states – usually gangsters, so not many people would want to rent there after they were gone. However, the landlady assured her that, now most of them already moved out and she could start by taking a room first, then later on, add on other rooms when the rest of the people were gone. It proved to be quite a good decision.

Since they were moving, they split their hair dressing business assets into two and moved on. Of course, my aunt’s business was definitely way better than her conniving friend’s salon and eventually, the evil friend’s business had to close down because nobody wants her to do their hair! Karma!

Not long later, the neighbour’s husband got into trouble with mobsters and had no choice but to sell out all their properties. Apparently, it was some kind of kidnapping, so the husband had to sell most of their properties to pay off some ransom and then, uprooted his entire family to another place.

The neighbour was kind hearted and kept her word that, no matter what happened to her, she would give ample notice for my aunt to find a new place to move her entire family. Caught with the situation, my aunt and family, decided to buy up the house that the neighbour offered to sell.

However, with already a house in Taiping Garden to finance, they were short of cash to pay for another house. Initially, my grandaunt (the coffee shop tigress – my grandpa’s sister) offered RM3,000 to help with the house. The house costs RM8,500 only. So my mom and sisters had to find a way to raise the other RM5,500.

When it was about time to pay for the house, my grandaunt said she had no money. What a bitch!

Burdened with the promise to buy the house, as well as shortage of cash, my grandma was so grief stricken, she told my mom and aunts to sell the Taiping Garden house to pay off the nice neighbour who promised us the house. The neighbour’s wife even offered them the house and not to her own relative who wanted to buy it for RM13,000!

Story to continue….

Knowing Your Roots Part I

My cousins need to assist their old folks back in Kuala Sepetang to get their CNY groceries shopping done, so we were off to Kuala Sepetang for the long weekend. I was there just to eat lah as usual. Haha. But, I think things turned out to be more satisfying than gluttony alone.

Each day I spent doing nothing (I didn’t pig out like crazy either!) but hung around at my aunt’s hair salon, reminiscing the old post I wrote earlier in year 2010. That was four years ago! Sad to hear that, the elderly ladies who lived on the other side of the river had passed on. So my aunt no longer need to cross the river, with her apparatus to perm their hair. This year, I saw more elderly people coming to my aunt’s salon – most of them are wheel chair bound.

It’s been so many years, the residents of Kuala Sepetang relied on the sampans to get them across to the other side of the river, eventhough they have been pestering the government to build them a bridge! Promise after promises after so many freaking years and finally, they built a bridge for the residents. I am already almost 38 years old and this is the first time, I stepped foot on the other side of the river using the bridge as I am rather panicky to ride on the rickety sampan to cross over!

As I was sitting there, I thought of the house that I have been visiting since I was little. So I asked my aunt about the house they are staying now. I know they had a rather difficult childhood. I know of the pains and tribulations they had gone through as children, living in poverty and at mercy of their relatives.

When my mom and aunts were little, they were all living under one roof with their aunt – their dad’s sister. My aunt told me, actually, her dad (my grandfather) had a house but then, since the sister (my grandaunt) is in need of cash to start up a coffee shop, offering him (my grandfather) a partnertship and also for my grandfather’s family to stay with her and her family, my grandfather sold his house to put in money for the coffee shop.

As usual, the promise was not kept. Indeed, they stayed with her family in a house but they were all treated like servants. My grandma had to cook for the entire family and coffee shop workers – no less than 30 of them, and had to hand wash all their clothes, iron and starch them! And my mom and her siblings had no freedom, they had to help out to do work for the coffee shop, as well keeping the house clean.

As my aunts grew up, they already planned their next course of action. They couldn’t possibly live in such repressing house the rest of their lives and my grandma was not getting any younger to be working like a mule! So my eldest aunt took up the responsibilities to go learn hair styling so that, she could open up her own salon and make money to fend for the entire family. They finally moved out to a house, offered by a friend who wanted to partner with my aunt for opening a hair salon.

They started the hair salon on 50:50 basis. However, customers very much preferred my aunt to style their hair compared to the friend. So this got the friend really jealous and embarrassed at the same time.

I asked if the friend is also entitled to her cut since she’s not doing anything and my aunt said yes. So what is there to be upset about? Apparently, the aunt of this friend who also lived with them in the same house – without paying rent, was bad mouthing and creating grapevines due to jealousy. It’s obvious that they were jealous of my aunts and my mom because of their industrious spirit, their network of friends and not to mention, their beauty. My eldest aunt is considered one of the fair maidens of Kuala Sepetang in her hey days!

The aunt began to spread lies that my aunt was not truthful in reporting the profits she made to split among them two. Whenever my aunt was not around, the friend would still take business and reported just half of it, in order not to pay the right amount of profit to my aunt. So things began to sour since then.

My mom and third aunt, were hawking refreshments at the other side of the river to assist with the family’s expenses and by 6 pm, they would go back home, jumped into the shower and traveled to town to work at the amusement park till midnight.

Then, the husband of the evil aunt would purposely hog the bathroom from 6 pm onwards so that the girls (my mom and aunt) couldn’t take shower in time to rush to work. He did that on purpose. I don’t know how my aunts and mom could tolerate this but they had no choice because they didn’t have a house back then and had no where to go. So, they began to come home earlier and hog the bathroom so that they could be on time to get to their second job at night.

This angered the husband tremendously and he maliciously put some kind of chemical (which could accelerate the ripening of fruits – and I was told it was very poisonous) into the bath tub before my mom managed to take a bath. My mom ended having allergies all over her body.

I was horrified by this story. There were indeed people with really malicious thoughts and act despicably in this life! And if I didn’t know this story, I would probably still think my mom is too naggy to be tolerated. I wonder how much more could my mom and aunt bear, being caught in such dead end situation when moving out is the solution but then, with limited cash and resources, they were trapped. Furthermore, my grandfather was bed ridden due to stroke and couldn’t work or fend for his girls…

Stories to continue…