I saw this on my friend’s Facebook page yesterday:

My wife grew up thinking that having water/ice dispensers in the fridge door was a life goal. I grew up thinking if I had a basket ball hoop with a clear plexiglass backboard, you were rich.

What are some things you thought were indicators of wealth when you were a kid?

I have to admit I couldn’t think of any.

Teachers who have just graduated from Brinsford Lodge Teachers Training College in England making their way to the buses after alighting from their aircraft at Singapore Airport on Dec 13, 1963. -The MALAY MAIL, September 16, 2016.

Not that we were rich, and thinking back, we were somewhat comfortable as a family as we lived within our means. Interestingly, I remembered listening to stories regaled by my more well off, as it were, school friends about their holidays abroad, or even reading about such vacations (along the lines of “Percutian saya di Eropah“) in the annual school magazine. I think I had somehow acknowledged subconsciously that we would never afford to do so, as I would never ask my parents if we could one day go to, say, California in the USA where my aunt lived. A vacation in Singapore at my maternal aunt’s was the farthest we would go. I remembered my first ever trip thinking “This is what a city outside Malaysia looks like!” and if you think about it now, it was prolly equivalent to going to Penang! Talking about Singapore, I remembered how delighted I was to receive an empty McD french fries box from a friend at school, you know, the red with white/yellow stripes that would contain an order of large fries, as a souvenir. I could only imagine what a McD hamburger would taste like then (this was pre-1982 when McD first opened at Bukit Bintang).

To sum up, I really cannot remember having a “one day if I could be rich” dream but I can tell you that my dreams, if you can call it one, had been of scholastic achievements (the “nanti masuk kolej lepas tu dapat scholarship pegi London” advice from my late mom) as that was the only thing I could ever manage. Perhaps ambition is a better word. I don’t think my late mom was feeling entitled (government scholarships were almost always a Bumi thing) but as a teacher, she knew how getting such a scholarship to study abroad can help one to hopefully pave a better life. Hence, the need to enter “college”, in other words going to boarding school for my secondary education. You just have to look at the boarding school to day school alumni ratio in my scholarship programme to sufficiently corroborate my late mom’s advice. Just to add, I was a child of the 70s – a time when Malaysians being sent to the likes of Brinsford Lodge to be trained as teachers was literally just a decade before that when I was in primary school. My mom was in the batch that just missed that boat as the last batch that flew to England was in the year above her. Perhaps this was an achievement by proxy for her but even if it was so, I would never fault her for that. Admittedly, I never chose to read medicine (I wanted to do accounting at uni but then I didn’t even really know what I wanted to do in life then), but I can see why her generation was the typical Asian parent of the “you can be anything you want in your life, as long as it’s a doctor” (she didn’t say that LOL) persuasion as parents always want something better for their kids, and praying the kids get dealt better cards in that game of life.

I did what I did, achieved what could be achieved. If it was dream of mine to be where I am now, though – never would I imagine said dream would include that aforesaid ice/water dispenser on the freezer door attached to it, 30-odd years later.

Saya punya naseb, saya makan
Dia punya naseb, dia makan
Apa salah makan sama-sama?