What would anyone with gzillions in their savings bank and investment portfolio know about living day-to-day? What qualifies a “gzillionaire” to say Providence will provide for the family’s daily needs? There is probably surplus, living better than judiciously, for the children and children’s children.
The incident I just related is unfortunately, not fiction. I heard this recently and was at a loss for words … dumbfounded… to put it mildly. 😮
I don’t know. I wouldn’t dare say that even in a position where my income is not fixed monthly. 😮
That gzillionaire remark brought me back to one of the few good things from my previous work place. We decided that instead of just donating money towards monthly rations for an adopted community through a church group, we might want to put a face to the name. We got some volunteers within the office to help distribute the rations. It was to a group who lived below poverty line. (And you thought there were none of those). They live among us. Quietly. Dignified.
We visited many families who were destitute. Either with one sick spouse and one minimum wage bread winner with school-going children, or senior citizens with no form of income from children or relatives, or physically handicapped with low income jobs.
One particular family struck a raw chord. The sole breadwinner was a 76-year old lady. She worked as a gardener for barely $600 a month (this I found out accidentally through someone else). Minus CPF, minus rent and my simple Maths brought the sum to just over $10 a day for expenses. And that was not only for herself. She was supporting an ailing husband and a 90 over year-old mother. They lived in a one-room, rented flat and the mother had a bed at the corner of the living room. Almost blind, the old lady was having lunch – a small bowl of rice with black sauce. I’m not sure why the husband and wife were not having lunch. Either they were waiting for us to come or my worst fears, they had run out of supplies. 😦
I can’t quite imagine the hardship. Gardening at any age is a very manual and tiring affair. For a 76-year old and in the blazing heat?! From dawn to dusk – bending and straightening. Straining the back and knees… It’s a heart-rending yet amazing feat.
Despite all that, before you could begin feeling sorry for her… she was “teaching” me so many things that are good and honourable. Speaking with her, there was none of the self-satisfied, “humbly” superior correctness of “Providence will provide for our daily needs”. Though even if she had said that, she’d have been allowed. Don’t discount also the fact there she probably had faith in a Divine God. Probably stronger than those of us who are not as needy or pretend to be. There was a quiet calm about her that belied her hardship. She was grateful but there was not a trace of self-pity. She was cheerful and generous-spirited. Humble and dignified. Accepted her lot with no complain. Definitely thankful for the roof over her head. The $10 a day that she earned with her own hands (with no thought of asking to benchmark higher-paid private sector gardeners) and the extra monthly supplies from the church group.
I don’t know. When we go for all these feel-good, “help-the-needy” trips, whether at home or abroad, we think we bring help. But leaving her home that day, I was the one, helped. Her gratefulness contrasted with the greed of commerce. Her contentment beautiful, erasing strife. Her resilient spirit working to provide for her family’s basic needs. Her proud independence still allowing her to receive help.
She reminded me that dignity and respect are indeed earned regardless of station or status or wealth. That poverty in the material brings a richness in spirit. And that is the sum and measure of a [wo]man.