Saturday, February 14, 2009

A little about my background

I grew up with 8 siblings. To the best of my recollection, my father worked and mom stayed at home. I vaguely remember my father had many jobs,-sewing machine serviceman, barber, canteen operator, prebet sapu (sort of a taxi driver but unlicensed). He wasn't very succesfull in all those jobs, but managed to support us anyhow. He inherited some parcels of land, but somehow sold them to buy/change cars. I remember a story (can't remember told by whom) of my father's prebet sapu days. One day he picked up a passenger, sent her to her destination. When she got off the car, instead of paying her fare, she just said thank you and walked away. I can't blame her, my father was driving a brand new Datsun 130Y, she probably thought she was lucky to get a lift from a teacher or something. Datsun 130Y was a nice car, and back then not many people even owned a car. What was he thinking, using a new car as a prebet sapu? I think he sold his land to buy that car. Such was the level of my father's personal finance then.

So you can imagine we weren't living a luxurious life. But it wen't for the worse after that. Father started doing business selling textiles, he went into Felda oil palm estates selling his wares. He didn't come home for extended periods of time. Money became harder and harder to come by. It turned out father had married another woman in a Felda estate he ventured in.

Life was tough, mom had to work really hard, she earned money by tapping rubber in the day and mengirek (treading rice to separate rice pods from the stems) at night.Those days were probably the hardest. I remember we had to ration our food. During mealtime we would apportion rice into plates, the side dish would usually be a half a piece of dried fish each. Second helping was unthink of. Beef? chicken? not a chance, heck we can't even afford budu (fermented fish sauce, a Kelantan staple sort of) most of the time.

You think that was tough? Wait, it's going to get worse.One day a man came to our house asking to see the land he had just bought. And to mom's surprise the land he meant was our land, where the house sit on. And yep you guess right, our beloved father sold it. I think we also surprised the buyer -for him to see the condition we were in. So the man left, we never saw him again after that.

After that we moved out, and went to live with my late grandmother. Life didn't get any better after that, so we were extremely frugal, we had to.

I was raised in a family more frugal than most. I think I'll continue with that tradition, and combined with good financial habits, I hope I can enjoy this life and maybe leave something for my kids when I leave.


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