When I was a kid, there was this toy I wanted so much.
It was an eight inch Jurassic Park tyrannosaurus rex action figure, complete with sound and movements. Being a dinosaur freak then, I wanted it so bad that I begged mum for it.
She asked me the price and at that time, that thing was priced at RM100 (or more I think). She shook her head no and said, “We can’t afford it.”
I was puzzled.
“What do you mean we can’t afford it? Aren’t you and Bapa working?”
She tried to make the ten-year-old me understand that a bus driver like her and a bus conductor like my dad earn a meager income but me being ignorant back then, failed to understand.
I was so distraught at the thought of other kids being able to obtain stuff easily. I was sad. I really wanted that toy.
Despite all that crying, long face and not eating, I never got it.
It came to a point where mum teared and showed me her purse, “Do you see money in here? Do you? I don’t have any money and if I had i would have bought you that toy because I can’t stand you going hungry. But I simply can’t because we’re poor.”
And true enough, there were only a few ringgit notes and coins in that old worn out purse.
That night I ate alone and went over to mum to show her the plate as proof that I had had my dinner.
Sixteen years down the road, I no longer pull the long faces or cry or blame mum if I can’t afford having something I want. Nor is her wallet almost empty.
I’ll be honest, there are times when I get jealous of some of my friends who don’t need to pay the house bills, give money for ration at home and instead have every penny to spend for themselves.
Some have got themselves brand new cars after saving their salary after just a couple of months. Some are luckier, their parents get them cars and they have the salary all for themselves. I wish I could have had it easier like them too.
But you know, I appreciate and value whatever I buy after working and saving really hard for it. I kinda like that feeling; the exhaustion and satisfaction mixed with sweat, blood (well not really) and tears (again, not really.. okay sometimes) after earning and seeing whatever you want before you. I feel very… macho (lol).
But of course, sometimes I do get jokers who pass snide remarks at me.
Like this one girl who said she would only consider me if I had a car and a house.
Or this aunt who told my mum that our family was the poorest among all the relations. “Your family is the poorest you know that?” Mum was really hurt with that comment. I couldn’t say anything to make her feel better except, “It’s alright. Things will change for the better soon.”
But you know, still there are some really nice folks out there like this one uncle who, as I was starting the engine of my old rickety Datsun, he placed his hands on the steering wheel, smiled and said, “Someday, you’ll be driving a BMW. Mark my words son.”
I liked that.
I mean, I doubt i’ll be driving a BMW let alone afford it, but I liked the fact that this man, this person who is someone i’m not related to, actually said something that was totally refreshing, something out of the box.
Call it fake hope or what not, but I felt really good that day.
For the first time, someone actually believed in me and told me that I would make it.
I couldn’t answer him, all I could do was smile awkwardly and thank him. It was a weird feeling.
I suppose I might make it big or I might not.
Infact, to be honest, I’m tired of thinking about it.
No, no I’m not lazy or anything. Just really tired chasing after something that reminds me of an action figure. A RM100 object that seemingly appears magnificent, which I would be at awe for an hour or so and then I would place it on a bookshelf and forget completely about it. I don’t NEED it.
On the other hand, it’s comfortable driving in the old Datsun, with mum driving, leading a simple life and talking about the simple things.
“Do you know, that the neighbour’s daughter skipped school again today? I saw her in the mini market here at 10 o’clock in the morning.” mum would say to dad.
And dad would ask, “What were you doing there so early? The shop only opens at 10.30.” And mum would retort, “I didn’t want to queue up to buy the groceries.”
Dad would turn around at me, grin and would say, “Isn’t that considered queuing up already?”
The both of us would laugh and I would then be smiling like an idiot, observing their antics from the backseat of the car while the afternoon breeze flows in and plays with my hair. Bro would be sitting next to me watching the clouds.
I need this. I like this. Poor or rich. I’m tired.
I just want to close my eyes, be in the old Datsun and let life pass me by.