Friday, May 4, 2012


i looked up and down the aisle, there was still no sight of my mother. standing between the aisles of the store, i gazed dreamily at the tins of food stacked up in neat rows in front of me. she had gone in search of a seemingly elusive item on her grocery list, leaving the trolley under my care. i

someone was softly calling me. i turned and saw an indian lady, her forehead marked with red bindi, with a child of about 7 by her side. as she opened her mouth i noticed the gaps between her yellowed teeth.
"akak, akak. saya mau minta tolong.." 

i stared at her. she met my gaze, and shuffled nearer to me, dragging the little girl with her. 
"saya mau minta tolong.. ini anak saya, ayah sudah meninggal. akak, kita wang sudah tiada, perut sangat lapar."

now, i knew stories of people such as these, who went around soliciting and then laughing behind the backs of those who had given in as they pocketed their gains. maybe these were such people! i tried to act as if i had not understood.
"ibu pergi ambil barang, saya sini jaga troli saja"

but she persisted, saying
"lima ringgit, lima ringgit pun sudah cukup. you troli banyak barang, kami apa pun takda."

i looked at her, and she returned my gaze with such a long face, with a pained expression. well! i did not know if they were genuine, but it was not such a lot to ask for, was it? $5, i suppose i could spare that. i took out the money from my purse and put it into her hand. 

the little girl's face broke out into a smile, her childlike voice thanking me. her mother likewise, uttered words of gratitude.

i nodded in acknowledgement, and they went off.

a few minutes later, my mother returned, and we turned towards the counter to pay. our goods accounted for, we started to leave.

suddenly, i stopped. it was the same indian lady and her daughter, paying at next counter. what were the items that they had chosen? i curiously craned my neck to see.

a bottle of liquor. that was all.

i flared up inwardly with indignance and disgust. she begged money from me, painting a sorrowful story of misfortune and hunger, and here she was, having the gall to do this, right under my very nose.

i suppose i could have right there, demanded for my money back. i could have told her off. but i stilled myself. somehow, the idea of being so desperate, having to go so low for money just so she could get her fix of booze, was sad enough.

so i let it go, and walked away.

1 comment:

  1. it's people like this that somehow make us..."less human" to poor/unfortunate strangers.

    i've had my fair share of almost similar experience that have forced me to develop a behaviour towards people who comes at me asking for money.

    i would just ignore them, avoid eye contact and walk away. though, i always walk away with heavy thoughts in my mind, juggling with the "What ifs" and questions in my head.

    What if they are really genuinely hungry?
    What if they really needed the money for whatever reason(s) they have stated?
    What if it's not?
    For their own selfishness?
    Just for the sake of easy money?
    To buy drugs?
    To buy liquor?
    Are they forced to do this?
    Is the money given to someone else?

    still have all this thought whenever i met people like this. hurts my brain.