I looked at my phone screen, it stated 2.14am, I forced myself back to sleep but my mind can’t stop thinking of home. Looked to the right through the window grill, why am I here? Why did I choose to be trapped in this place? I’ve become a stranger in a strange land, living with a bunch of unknowns for 5 days 4 nights. I starred at my reflection on a broken mirror, wondering ‘who am I’ and ‘what I am fighting for’. I’ve asked these 2 questions a lot of times recently. There isn’t an answer, yet. From this trip which is like a liberating vacation from the dreadful half yearly exams, what I’ve learned is more to a reinvention of a lost person who has been going at the wrong direction for a long time.
‘Akak, when going back?’
‘I’ve school on Friday. You want me to stay?’
‘Yes, stay till Friday.’
Rebecca’s soft voice asked me several times every day, I’ve lost count of how many times. I can’t help myself to look into Sarah’s eyes, her huge eyes with super-curled lashes starred into my inner soul and it gave me a reason to smile.
‘Kak, why are you crying?’
I can’t help myself to break down on the second day, after knowing some of the kids’ backgrounds. I wondered, why are there parents like that, why make the kids suffer, why are they so irresponsible, why is God so cruel to them, why the kids become that violent and mad, why, why, and WHY?! Perhaps I was outta my mind because of PMS, the mild recovery for the exam which has drained out the energy and confidence in me, the killing loneliness, the unexpected call, the terrible homesick… Thank God there are family and friends who helped me through the second day and the kids who put back a smile on my face.
I accompanied Patricia to Brickfields to send Rebecca to kindergarten. Rebecca was smiling all the way, standing wobbly in the bus, holding Patricia’s hand while crossing the road, waiting for Patricia’s nod to walk into the kindergarten and running frantically to the door. Bringing books from the cupboard upstairs to the newly-sponsored bookshelves from the Kiwanis Club of Kuala Lumpur was a good workout. The kids were appreciative for accessing the resources during their free time. They are a bunch of intelligent and hardworking kids who just require a bit of pushing in life and guidance.
‘Do you hate your dad?’
Elizabeth answered affirmatively and instantaneously. She shared me her personal stories and ambition. She cried at night when thinking about her grandfather who is critically sick. I got the chance to celebrate her brother’s birthday on 11th April, they had KFC and a birthday cake, sponsored by a restaurant owner. They were laughing, talking in Tamil where I couldn’t obviously understand at all, they are in a big family, they are happy outside, but deep inside, are they?
How lucky we are to have a family to expect your arrival each day? How fortunate we are to have a home to go back, a nice bed to sleep on? How good our life is, if to compare with those kids? Why are we complaining each day? Based on my observations in life, some people are loaded with fortune, and they can waste their money on unnecessary stuff where those kids floundered helplessly on transport money and pocket money; they can waste their precious time on useless and meaningless things. There is a strong urge inside of me to give them one tight slap and a long philosophical speech. But come to think of it, why should I be bothered? Why wasting my time where I can focus on more deserving unfortunate lives?
‘Kak, write down the formula, I learn after I buy one’
I was holding my old Rubik’s Cube, which has become Luke’s cube. Disappointment is displayed on his face when his first cube is broken. He tore out the old Rubik’s Cube’ stickers and pasted on the Sudoku Cube with glue. He seemed so interested and determined to master the Rubik’s Cube since last evening. That’s something I used to have, I wondered why have I lost it.
‘Kak eaten already?’
It’s funny that I was there to serve my residential project, they are the ones who are serving me, taking good care of me and inspiring me. During my stay, I’ve seen rodents and more big fat disgusting lizards. But what scares me more are the fear of being scolded and beaten up, the need to use violence to protect themselves, the fact that they are fighting for a life, the hardship they have to suffer due to their backgrounds, the pain and sadness that they have endured for losing part of their life, the insecurity, the hardcore discipline…
I was eagerly anticipating the clock to strike 11am on the last day, bidding farewell to the adults, Patricia and Sarah. The other kids were in school, I didn’t have the chance to say a proper goodbye. But I know deeply in my heart, it ain’t goodbye, I will be back, when I have the chance. Sarah came out from the home and waved to me, the three-second exchange seemed insignificant, but I do know, I have made some changes in them and they have made even greater changes in me. God bless all of them.