Understanding the value of a dollar.
Friday, 11 November 2016
My name is Jake. I am a hawker
Hi Everyone,My name is Jake.
I have a story to share with all of you.
I consider myself to be a really lucky chap, perhaps it’s because i’m easily contented.
I get happy really easily. I’m elated if the bus arrives right when i stepped into the bus stop, i’m over the moon if the train happens to pull up to the station when i’m there, and if i can get a seat, it was like striking the lottery for me.
Sometimes even an extra scoop of gravy over my rice or a stray piece of fish that happens to be stuck to a vegetable dish i ordered for lunch gets into my plate, it would fuel my mood for a good half a day.
I know you must be laughing at me by now but it’s ok.
I’m just a very simple person.
Average fare, a nice cup of coffee, a good bed to sleep in, that was it.
Sometimes my friends say i’m lazy and too simple minded but i don’t think i am.
I’m just happy, there is nothing wrong with that.
Isn’t being happy the whole point of being alive ?
I mean as long as you are happy, the rest doesn’t matter.
My parents are hawkers, they sell wanton noodles in a coffee shop on the eastern part of Singapore. Although we are not rich, there was always food on the table.
Home is a nice 4 room flat a stone throw away from Tampines Interchange.
It’s a fantastic location, i could walk blindfolded to the MRT station. Everything i could possibly need is right within reach.
I’m the only child in the family, my parents did try to give me a sibling back then but having to juggle their noodle business and taking care of me made things a little challenging.
By the time i was 7, i kind of knew i would be the only child. They were disappointed when they could not give me a little sister or brother to play with but i told them it’s fine. Their company is all i needed.
They love me, that i could tell but they stop short of spoiling me. If i wanted something when i was young, they taught me to save up for it.
My first pager, my first phone, even game consoles.
Nothing was ever handed to me on a plate. They taught me the value of money and how hard it was to make a dollar.
It was one of the best life lessons i ever had.
Understanding the value of a dollar.
My parents did not like me to visit their place of work. It’s not because they’re embarrassed or ashamed or anything, but in their perspective, they want their son to work in a air conditioned office.
With a proper desk. Nothing oily and greasy.
They were afraid if i were to hang out at their stalls too often, i might end up working at their stalls for the rest of my life.
Jake : There is nothing wrong with being a hawker.
Dad : We all want what’s best for you Jake…. things your mum and i could never have… a good education, a good job….
We live prudently on average days, my parents chose to save up every extra dollar for my education and holidays.
Holidays for the family is a big deal. I’m really fortunate to be able to visit several southeast asian countries, this was before budget travel came into the picture. Each time we fly, it would eat into my parents’ retirement savings.
I’m ok with a road trip to malaysia but my parents wanted me to see the world.
Mum : It opens your eyes and broadens your horizon….. i read from newspaper one….haha.
My mum is one of the most amazing woman i ever knew. After a hard day’s work at the noodle stall, she still juggled with housework and taking care of the family.
Life is simple for us.
There were never really any ups and downs in my life.
I was never a top scorer, never a problem kid. It was always in the middle.
Average grade, average schools, average friends , even my looks i would say it’s just average.
I don’ think i look dashing, but it’s still presentable.
MY school years were a breeze, i just did what had to be done and got it over with.
My grades were always 70 ish. My dad always asked why i did not get 80 ish .
My mum would reply ;
Mum : What’s the difference ?? As long as he understands what’s going on, he can get 60 ish for all i care.
Dad : …………… what if next round he gets below 50 ??
Mum would just shrug her shoulders.
Mum : even if he gets a zero…… the sun still rises the next day….
It was usually at this moment my mum would make a face at me and warned me not to get a zero before whispering softly behind my dad’s back.
Mum : It’s hard to get zero….. dont’ worry… you anyhow tikum also can get 1 or 2…
I would usually laugh it off.
There was never any pressure on my grades and exams. I just knew i had to at least pass the test. Perhaps seeing how tired my parents were every day they came back from work spurred me on.
I studied diligently not because i liked it, but because all i wanted was to give my parents a good life when they grow old.
Secondary school was ok, Junior college more fun since i was attached with a really horny girlfriend. I never knew orgasm inside a girl was so good and different from masturbation until she showed me.
Staying at the hall in NUS was one of the highlights of my young adulthood. I’m the quiet and meek guy with decent grades. I don’t spill secrets or tally the scores and perhaps it was because of this traits, i had quite a few close girl friends.
I fucked all of them.
Aside from my sexual exploits with innocent girls,I took the safest route possible. Something every parent would be proud of.
Yup, you guessed it.
I graduated with 2nd class, got into the civil service right after graduation.
I had a desk, with my own computer.
Then i had a bigger desk.
And then a corner desk.
8 years on i had my own office in the civil services.
Pay is decent, parents are happy. They bragged to relatives i’m working for the government.
Iron rice bowl .
I always laughed secretly in my heart at such a term.
There is no such thing anymore.
Iron is just metal.
Metal can be melted.
Iron will rust.
At the 8th year mark, i’m turning 30.
My title read assistant director but i’m not happy.
Something seemed to be missing in my life.
For a good 30 years, i asked myself what have i done ?
I’m unhappy not with work or the environment, but more about life itself.
I could feel my heart getting restless.
It’s got nothing to do with sex or relationships, i dated, brought a few girls back but nothing worked out.
The iron in my rice bowl, had started to rust.
And i don’t like that metallic taste of metal in my mouth when i eat.
I tendered my resignation to my boss in November 2014. It shocked the whole department.
My boss fell ill.
My co workers were shocked.
One of the colleague i slept with got pregnant, by her husband that is and she blamed me.
Colleague : why are you leaving !!! Are you mad ?? see… because of you leaving i got pregnant !..
Jake : What has it got to do with me ??!!
Colleague : I was too distracted to stop my husband from cumming inside me….
Jake : What rubbish… you’re already into your 2nd trimester !...
Colleague : haha… sorry…. but i just hate to see you leave Jake.
I left the office and my last day was in the middle of december.
I did not tell my parents what i did so when i came home with a suitcase of stuff i accumulated over the past 8 years, they freaked out.
Dad : WHAT!!! ARe you fired !!!!!
Mum : WHAT HAPPENED!!!! you are jobless ??!!!
Before i could tell them what i did, they jumped to conclusion and started blaming my boss.
My mum wanted to go talk to our MP.
My dad wanted to go speak at Hong Lim park.
He was so close to sending the prime minister a email as i looked blankly at the old TV screen.
Jake: I …. quit…. no one fired me …
It took a while for that to sink into their heads and i could see they were disappointed with my decision but they kept quiet.
My parents were already in their mid sixties.
They were already talking about their retirement, bringing up the topic a couple of times during meal times.
They can’t be cooking noodles forever.
22nd December 2014
My parents did not speak with me the entire weekend. They probably thought i’m out of my mind.
I can’t explain that feeling of lightness, the amazing smell of freedom.
There was this tingling excitement in my veins i cannot explain.
It was like my body was starting to come alive. I felt energised, well rested and ready to go.
The question is go where ?
It’s early in the morning, my parents usually leave home at 4am to start their day.
I walked around the old house and looked at old photo frames.
Pictures of my parents when they married.
Pictures of me drooling.
And the picture my parents took at their noodle stall on their first day at work decades ago.
A few more photos followed the first, i recognised some of the uncle and aunties, fellow hawkers at the small coffee shop.
They all grew old.
Streaks of white in their hair, some of their children had taken over the reins.
I looked at my dad, standing proudly in front of his wanton noodle stall.
That very stall brought me up, gave me an education and allowed me to see the world.
A smile broke out on my face as i touched the photo my parents took during the 7th month hungry ghost festival with all the prayer items.
It’s been awhile since i spoke to myself but on that morning, i did just that.
Jake : Ok. Wanton noodle……… i’ll do just that…
I showered, changed and took a cab down to the coffee shop in Joo chiat.
I had no visited the place in so many years that i got the street wrong. In the end i walked a little before coming up to that familiar street.
I looked at my parents from a distance away, smiling and chatting to customers.
Ah, i laughed as i recognised the scrawny kid that had grown up to be so huge arranging chicken at the chicken rice stall.
Even the uncle brewing coffee is the same, except he had grown so old. Wrinkles etched deeply into his forehead.
I slowly walked towards the coffee shop and i paused a distance away.
I paused not because there was a passing car.
I stopped not because it was the red light at the junction.
I stopped because my breath was taken away that early Monday morning.
That girl had really fair skin.
She sat cross legged at a table with a stack of invoices in front of her.
Her hair flew gently in the morning breeze as she tallied each one and tapped away on a calculator.
She looked up and brushed her fringe behind her ears and i saw her full side view.
I watched her lift up her coffee and she blew on it gently, the way her lips pouted that teeny wee bit gave me an erection.
Time seemed to slow when i saw her put her lips to the cup as she sipped her coffee.
When the cup left her lips, i could see a slight red mark of her lipstick.
My mum walked out with a plate of noodle and soup in hand and set in it front of the girl.
I was barely 7 metres away.
My mum looked up and she had a shock seeing me across the small street.
Mum : What you doing here ??!!
My heart fluttered.
My dick tingled.
My throat went dry.
I crossed the road as the very girl i was looking at turned up and our eyes met.
SHe looked at my mum first before turning back to look at me.
Mum : Siao ah… you come here for what… ??
Jake : I… it’s been so long since i came here….. wanted to visit you all since i’m free…
My mum turned to the lady who was looking at us.
I don’t know why but my heart was thumping so fast.
I never felt that way before.
The lady stood up. She’s definitely younger than me, mid twenties i would say but she had an air of maturity surrounding her.
As if she was forced to grow up faster than others.
She extended her hand with the sweetest smile i ever saw on a girl.
The sun peeked out from behind the clouds and illuminated a portion of her lower cheeks. She is absolutely stunning.
I reached out my hand too.
Jake : Hi… hi…. i’m Jake..
I felt the soft smooth hands for this girl touched mine as she replied with a slight smile.
“ My name …. is Kate “
Coming soon……….. 2017.