Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The meaning of hardship

As told to me, my grandparents immigrated from Southern China to Malaya with a dream to settle down.They were orphans and there is no way for me to trace their origins. When my grandad moved to the Klang
Valley from Perak, he resided with my grandma in the Ampang area.They worked for an expatriate family and lived in a servant's quarter. There, my dad and my aunt Lorraine grew
up under as a servant's child.To supplement their income, my grandma reared chickens and sold its eggs to the Tuan and Mem besar. My
dad and aunt hardly had good food. They lived on recycling left overs and commodities such as rice, cooking oil and spices are scarce. For a
servant's meager salary, my grandma managed to bring up her children. She had succeeded in raising one generation through the hardship of War. When the Japanese invaded Malaya,
I was told that it was the hardest four years of their lives.Then the British came back to rule Malaya for another 12 years before handing the country back to its rightful
rulers.Nevertheless, my dad's family lived under harsh conditions. It was my aunt who pulled it together by getting a job
at a multinational company. With her salary, she relocated my entire clan to Setapak. I was born in the last year of the 60s and grew up in the
70s under her watchful eyes.By the time I arrived to the world, life was so much better. We had a roof over our head, three square meals a
day.My grandparents do not skip their meals anymore nor they lived on leftovers. But being as they were, granny did
live the rest of her life in the shadow of poverty.It was too much for her after my grandpa died on the operating table in 1974. The burden to maintain the clan
was on my aunt's shoulder.I remember how she complained about doing it all alone. Her wages went to schooling me and my sister. Then,
her adopted sister also lived on her tabs. Till today that is.When I hit my mid-20s, I got my taste of hardship. I was swelling with pride and practically lost in my sense of
direction in life.Unlike what my grandparents and aunt had gone through, mine was entirely different. I was scorned and
humiliated by some people who thought that I was too far gone. At this point in life, I have failed in many aspects. In short, I was in the 'loser' mode. I was angry at myself. Then
something struck me when I recalled the hardship that my grandparents had to endure.What I was going through wasn't even close and taking another look at life from that perspective, I was sure that
after hitting rock bottom, the only way is up.I rebranded myself, repackaged my skills and used that as leverage. It seemed that at the time, my only hope
was to rise to the calling of joining a newspaper and see the world.Which was exactly what I did. Nevertheless, the 15 years that I spent in training saw many ups and downs. I
learned that in life, you can please everybody.And the most important lesson from employment is that one should not be a part of his superior's life. Never let
your co-worker or supervisor dictate how you should run your life.After going through the mill, life got much better. Hardship taught me not to be choosy. I used every opportunity I
had to improvise. My parents never had that chance. They sacrificed a lot to see a better future for their next
generation. I learned that its never easy to trust completely and there are people who take advantage and betray your trust.
Hardship had taught me to size up such a situation. People can test me, but they cannot fuck with me. And for every token that I have earned in the form of toys and experience, no one can say that I am not deserving. When I was down and out, a fellow angler asked why I went through great length to get some good fishing gear
and that over indulgence was not good as I was spending beyond my means. I told him that I worked very hard to earn my keeps and that I have enough to survive. I did not steal or borrow to
get what I want.I can sense that he was sceptical that a lowly reporter can actually do better than an up and coming sales guru.
Too bad, fuck him. Till today, this man is still searching for the answer. Hardship prepares me to be sharp and precise. In life, there is no margin for error. Even if we make mistakes,
we must own up, amend it, and move on with life.Its amazing that with all the rocks and boulders thrown down my path, I still managed to see the world and do
some really amazing things.Best of all, people dig what I have to tell them. I took my failure and turned it into a personal gain. I proved the
sceptics wrong and along the way, made many new friends. Now, I live with my wife and dogs and cannot complain because life is good. There's three square meals and
plenty of room to pursue my past time. I have a life and hobbies that most race race wannabes, has been and never were would envy. And I will do
everything in my ability to protect this.Be as it may, I'm just mid-way through this life journey and cannot predict what lies ahead. But with enough
experience, I would surely pull through. I won't make the same mistakes again and suffer the consequences.Some lessons taught in life is through hardship.
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