Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sometimes I have too much.

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I bought a subway sandwich with my own money today. Also a bowl of mushroom soup. I was hungry. The price of which all works out to about RM17.

That in itself doesn't make for much of a "new year blog" story does it?

Let's try again. 


My first day of primary school was likely in a January. A full half a year before, I recall regularly obsessing over an edutainment toything probably gifted to me after preschool. Excitedly, loudly reciting from memory translations of English words I've picked up.

By the way my mom not too gradually dribbled away her enthusiasm in praising my vocal proclamations of vocabulary expansion I could tell she couldn't wait to get me to an actual school so I'd be some other poor woman's problem for a change.

On the day of, it was dark, about 645am. In my pocket was 60sen. I was told to spend it during lunch. Lunchtime came and I learned that a plate of nasi lemak costs 30sen and a glass of air sirap was 20sen. 

Perfect. I would have 10sen left over everyday. "If this keeps up, soon I'll be a millionaire", thought my 6-years-and-a-month-old brain.

And so my routine went.

Every lunchtime I'd get my nasi lemak + sirap combo for a big 50sen coin and have a clean 10sen to pocket home into my origamibox of coinchange.

Until that one day of course.

We've been steadily filling up our brand new exercise books for each subject. One day the teacher requested that we use a new number 7 book. Yeah I have those, I thought to myself. 

I didn't. Everybody else did though. 


This was before lunchtime so I still had some money with me. I asked to be excused and went to the co-op to get myself a brand new exercise book. 

It costs 60sen.


I stood in line with my hand down my trouser pocket, fiddling with the 50sen and 10sen coins in it. My mind was racing.

"What was I supposed to do if I don't have lunch today? Do they let you not eat? Is that against the rules? What if I die? My mom will kill me."

I got the book and went to class. We ended up not needing the book.

During lunchtime I went down to the canteen anyway, bringing the empty exercise book with me. I don't know why.

The juxtaposition of looking around at everyone else enjoying their meal while I sit and leaf through blank pages of what I elected to spend my money on felt off, but nobody said anything. I took out a pencil and began doodling.

One of my new friends sitting across from me noticed this.

"You're not eating?"

"No. I don't have money."

"Your mom didn't give you money?"

I held up the book to show him.

"I bought this."

The boy was confused for a bit. He looked at the cover of the book, slowly chewing on his curry puff. 

"Sorry." he finally said.

I wasn't sure why he was apologizing, so I assumed something was wrong and immediately felt bad. I explained to him what happened

He nodded carefully, looking down.

"My abah gives me RM1 every day."

I tried to contain my amazement.

"Wow, you're rich."

He grinned.

"Sometimes I have too much."

He took out a curry puff from his plastic bag of three and held it out to me.

"Here. For you."


On my way to get the sandwich I passed by a lot of nasi lemak stalls. I didn't want to eat nasi lemak. Not the healthiest thing. There were a lot of people there breakfasting with their kids. I wondered if my dad's awake yet.

Cheap food is hard to resist. Of course for the time being my idea of "healthy" is still kind of fast food, but I try. So long as I'm fortunate enough to have the means to choose what I eat, might as well choose food that's good for me.

Back in the house, 
the subway sandwich was sitting on top of the bowl of hot soup and both are still very warm as I placed them on top of the dining room table. I had my notebook from work with me and placed it next to the meal.

I opened it up and flipped through my harriedly scribbled notes. Words, diagrams and complete sentences. All the stuff I learned back in primary school.

The door to my parents' room creaked open and I hear heavy footsteps. It was my dad. I closed the notebook and covered the food under the tudung saji. My dad's booming voice reached the kitchen.

"Is there food in here? Lapar la."

I grabbed my notebook and headed out.

"On the table. For you."

Sometimes I have too much.

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