Beggin'! Beggin you!
Put your lovin hands out baby.
- Beggin' from Madcon
A couple of years ago, when I was a barista, I used to keep the first paper cup which I used to make my first latte. It was a symbol of confidence; whereby every time I glanced at the tall size paper cup, I would think of the time when I was not as handy or as competent as I thought I was.
Those days were tough. Prepping the coffee was a privilege. The beginning of my career was filled with the days of sweeping and cleaning. There was no difference between me and the Bangladeshi who worked at the fast food restaurant nearby. Both of us had our degree and were not really stupid or useless.
We were just jobless and helpless.
Regardless, we tried hard to make ourselves reliable. I remember the days when I used to change clothes at the boutique where I used to shop. Before I fell into that situation, I used to buy some work attires from the boutique. I was a customer. Later on, I had to work really hard just to get a handkerchief for myself. Nothing was affordable in the boutique even though the boutique belongs to a friend.
Money, from my point of view at that time, was one of the most powerful tool to make someone weak at heart. If I was not strong enough during that period, I would have succumbed to the cruel facts of life.
But I was lucky. The time when I was working two jobs in a day had passed for 2 years now. Those days of getting up early in the morning, went through the hassle of teaching students in a secondary school where nobody wanted to learn were finally drew its final curtain. Those rushing days of getting to a coffee shop to perform the later-of-the-day-duty have finally taken its toll.
Alhamdulillah. I finally got a job and eventually managed to expand my career. But never...ever...I would forget the times when I was a teacher, a cleaner, and a daughter - all at once in a day.
Yes, I was lucky, folks. I was too lucky. Each time I remember the times when people spat on the floor that I swept, I would feel this huge lump in my throat. Those thoughts made me stronger and wiser: We're not always lucky in life and the biggest test would be given to the toughest people.
After 2 years of leaving those days behind, I was still having fears. Fears of living that kind of life again; thinking how difficult it was to be looked down upon each day. Being a barista was not that bad, but being a teacher was worst. Some teachers were not human. The term GSTT was too disgusting to them; they thought that what happened to me would never happened to their own children. Well, sorry teachers, not all of you were harmful. My parents were teachers too, but what happened back then - the jeers and leers and the proud exclamation were still at the back of my mind. Some people just thought that life would remain constant like a northern star. They were definitely wrong.
This evening, I saw a beggar sitting in front of the escalator at LRT station near Central Market. I have been seeing him for quite some time. He was an Indian man. I was unsure of his own religion and I never bothered to ask. What was so special about him was that he reminded me a lot about my life. The times when leftovers looked delicious. He reminded me about how lucky I was because the GSTT or barista were better than a profession called a beggar.
He was different. I knew I sounded so naive by saying this. There were several beggars in KL; we would never knew whether that person might be under a syndicate or just lived a hard life. But have you heard this: the eyes were the part of our body which would never lie?
Unless he was a good actor, his eyes were different. We could tell that some times beggars were not sincere but what he showed me was a plea - either he was begging me to help so that he could survive or he was begging because he would want to survive from those bad people who hurt him. I didn't know, folks. But I did know that he was one of those people whom I never hesitated to help even though it was just a coin of 20 in my pocket.
I was not trying to say that I was kind. I was just...drawn to give. For some reason.
Maybe it was his paper cup. Unlike my yellowish paper cup, his was torn and empty. Well, maybe people thought that he was just lying. But for me, he didn't have to be in the same race or religion with me. He was just another human who had worst paper cup than mine.
It has been months now since the first time I saw him at the same spot on the back from work. His paper cup was getting worst. I often wondered whether something could be done for him. He was sick! I knew he'll lose his eye sight - sooner or later. He lost his legs already. My assumption was that he might have diabetic. Things must be really difficult...
And there was a man, sitting beside me over dinner this evening; and complained about his job - non-stop! Over a plate of tasty nasi goreng kampung, I was hearing stupid...stupid confession.
"Saya malas betul nak buat kerja...buat apa, buang masa..." he said to me once.
He declined to do any tasks given, bad mouthing his colleagues, lepaking at any time he could, smoking during work, over utilised his leave and medical entitlements...well, what else could I say?
And he drank from a glass.
Didn't he realised that the glass could turned into a torn paper cup?