Original Post: Feb. 21, 2008
I pray and hope you’re all doing great in every one of your endeavors.
It’s a couple of hours more before I’m done with being in the age category of 22. I feel like I’m getting old, and way too fast. Then again, age is just a bunch of digits ? Either way, it’s been a really interesting day, a string of events had made me realize a few simple truths. In fact, this whole trip back has made me realise truths from the simplest of things.
First, the water issue. We hardly ever have this kind of issue back home, but here it’s a daily affair. I remember the last time, many years ago, when there was water problems, because the dam went dry, everyone started blaming the state government for not taking care of its citizens. During all my travels, I realised that I’m so grateful that I live and was born in Malaysia.
We take the simplest of utilities for granted, let alone the more complex ones. The inconsistency and at times the non-existence of such utilities is such a norm in 3rd world countries that people are so used to them. So the next time we lose any such thing back home, I’m going to be more grateful as it’s just ‘once in a blue moon’ and keep my calm.
Today, I realised the house was a real mess, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. So I decided to clean up as much as possible. There were dishes in the sink for weeks I guess, and the bathroom most definitely needed a wash. The place needed decent organising too, so to kick things off I started by washing my clothes AGAIN for the second time. After the 1st time a few days ago, I devised a GREAT idea ;p, which I had learnt about while I was in Cambodia 8 years ago. Wash your clothes while you shower! I was thinking how much I missed my maid and the convenience of a washing machine. While struggling I thought of all the mothers & sisters in 3rd world countries and even a good number back home, how it’s a daily affair, and here I was miserably washing just a few pairs. To me it seemed so tough, imagining those who have to wash an entire family of 5-10 people’s clothes. Madness. I remember how at times I would complain about small stains when the maid didn’t wash properly, and it really got me thinking. What made it worse is that they don’t just wash clothes, they clean, wash dishes, cook, cut, clean again and organise the entire family too. Then in a good number of families, the kids and husbands come home ungrateful, and sometimes the husbands even beat up their wives when the state of the house is not to their liking.
While cleaning, my emotions were hyped up when thinking of the violent behaviour of these men. I wanted to eradicate poverty so much more. My determination to do my part in change grew even bigger. So here I was struggling and getting frustrated about my own clothes and the condition of the house, and these women who spend their whole life keeping it in order.
Then I got to the dishes, I went to the sink and as I was picking up dishes and to my disgust I found a dead roach. Then another thought struck my head, firstly they’ve been brought up in a way where women do all the house work, their mothers & sisters literally do it for them. The thoughts of when my father used to force me to do my own dishes came to mind. I am very grateful that I was brought up differently from my housemates. I remember how I was made aware of the simplest of things, and to not feel arrogant, superior or egoistic. I made myself realize that firstly I was lucky to have an Amazing Dad like I do, and also that I wasn’t brought up in such a country or culture. I don’t blame the mothers or sisters though for spoiling the males in the house, I blame the culture. A culture that needs to evolve. A culture that needs a good amount of progressive development and constructive change. Just as much as it’s a female’s duty it’s just as much a male’s duty. In the past yes, it’s true that males are out all day working in the fields and earning money while the females stay home and keep the house running. But in these days, it’s hardly the same as back then. Both husband and wife work at most times. Or there is in some cases the ability to afford a maid.
I went into deeper thoughts about maids. How they are the new term for slaves, how so many families treat them inhumanely, how they are made to work from 5am – 11pm and yet they get scolded, and don’t get any sort of appreciation. They are human too, now I realized even more so, why my dad had the maid sit at our table for dinner. How she was no less than anyone else in the family. Why he constantly praised and appreciated her work. How she makes our life so much more easier and convenient and comfy. A whole lot more deeper ideas came in, but I’ll save it for now.
For all of you out there, do appreciate your maid more and you know praises will do no harm. She’s just as human as you are. She too is looking for money to survive and start a new life once she returns. Don’t be mistaken, I’m not saying show love all the time, if she makes a mistake remind her, caution her and if it gets bad reprimand her, but remember that she too is human. Remember that you’re just lucky to be born in your family and not in some family in a 3rd world country with hardly any basic necessities of life.
My need to want to educate and provide opportunities and possibilities for the less fortunate have grown even more immensely. Every year there was a new adventure, first it was finding myself, then it was about achieving, then in Cambodia it was building my character, then back home I was trying out the business world and a variety of other things. And now here is Timor and the Book, and amazing people around me. Life has so much to teach us, there’s so much to learn from. It’s only whether we choose to see it or not. We could set our sights on the beautiful-sophisticated things and forget the simple things around us. The beautiful people around us, that very journey to work and back could be just as exciting & interesting. There’s so much to observe, listen to, ponder upon. Then there’s our own life, how it unfolds, how we end up in various circumstances, complexities, frustration, enjoyable, exciting, wonderful, beautiful, experiences. With the passing days, things become more and more clear, more evident. The need for change becomes so much clearer, the determination grows, the intensity increases, the motivation inspires, but not forgetting that I only have 24 hours in a day. I have a good 50 years and not an eternity. I do believe humility is the secret to greatness. No one is stopping you from enjoying all the luxuries of the physical, emotional, mental, intellectual and spiritual world. In fact YOU SHOULD enjoy these areas in life! Just don’t let it get to your head. Strive your hardest possible to not become arrogant or feel superior. We are all human, EQUAL in God’s eyes. We’re just in different circumstances and situations.
“It’s been 10 years since I wrote this blog while setting up our NGO and serving in Timor Leste, and what a journey it has been. What resonates with me most is that my thought process back then is exactly the same as it is now, minus that little bit of extra maturity I now possess.”