The impoverished and the polished


NOV 27 — I received a fair bit of feedback about my last column in The Malaysian Insider and I have to say, it is equally soothing as embarrassing.

I speak about my life not as a source of expecting sympathy or consideration, I speak of the past because it gives me more clarity about my own present ideas and offer a little more credibility to my ideas. They are not just ideas borne out of cute curiosity, or the idle misfiring of my neurons.

They grow out of the energy of life I have been privileged to experience.

I just need the courage to say them.

Of being the 8 year old walking with his brother to the provision shop to buy biscuits, by the biscuit. Every 10 sen gets  you 3 cream crackers, and the store owner will count them as he takes them out of the 10 kg tin.

So you see, it follows also that your parents/grandparents would divide the biscuits carefully with the number of children present.

But as children we never asked how many biscuits the adults get.

The capacity of the people with less to be more considerate of others before themselves, and the lack of capacity of the rich to be build a world-view beginning with others always perplexed me.

At the risk of massively generalising the assumed affliction, I’ll concede that these are the observations of those generally within my observable distance.

My grandfather used to give us toys. He was a city council cleaner, so they get discarded toys. But they are toys and they do come out of the goodness of my grandpa who would sit me down when I was 13. He pointed to me a five ringgit note. He asked if I knew what was the value of the note.

I absolutely had no text explanation, but looking at him I did understand.

Wealth as a feeling, as a sense of having and the converse of not having.

He soon died couple of years later, but I think of him.

I think a lot about people I look up to, because in a world where people just are out to get theirs, those who put others before them are, well heroes to me.

In my debating days in the uni circuit where I had some success, people used to ask me, “Where does the passion come from?”

I’d be dumbstruck for an answer. There is no answer, I’ll tell myself to brush-off the matter.

But perhaps it is not the answer or lack of it which knots me, it is rather the surprise of knowing that not everyone has passion.

It is not a given. Your parents can’t buy you passion.

Which is a nice summary of my schooling life and the university days. People did not envy my wins as much as they did the “will to believe” which I had.

That is the polish, for me at least.

2 thoughts on “The impoverished and the polished

  1. Dear Praba

    Passion…can get someone very-very far…far more than talent.

    I still remember the day when you followed (a very young and inexperienced) me in a cab to Ampang Park to help us register the VI hockey team in the league on deadline day. I still remember that day as that was the start of everything…

    You were passionate about supporting us even though you were no longer playing…thank you

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