I don’t think I can claim to know what being poor is. I thought I know but I do not. On Monday, I went to visit someone in a poorer area, where the earliest flats in Penang are built.
(Before I proceed further, don’t anyone dare to think that I am gloating about my own blessings and using other people as a topic to blog.)
The person I visited seems ok with living there because he is alone and therefore, a single room flat is just nice for him. But when I walked into the area, there are many families with several children and extended families, like aged parents and etc. I cannot imagine how the whole family live in a small space like that. The walls, corridors and public area are so badly vandalised.
For a person like me who has fear (not sure it is considered phobia) of small spaces, going through their corridors is suffocating. Thank goodness the person I visited lives on the ground floor and hence, I do not have to use the lift. This reminds me of the time when I went to a Malay colleague wedding in another area nearby. I almost fainted because the corridor and lift were narrow and not lighted during the day.
Rats are everywhere and passing by their main rubbish area is pukey. The rats running around amused my 8 yrs old who tagged along. He is also amused that the lifts do not stop at every floor but only about every 3-4 floors. But my two older kids? No, way, they will not follow me down and instead chose to stay in the cool comfort of the car. I wish they would so that they could see for themselves that people come from different backgrounds.
When I was young, my mom used to take me to her sister’s one room flat in Caunter Hall. My aunt has several children and top it off with my mom and I, everyone practically slept in the living room and kitchen. I remember I had a swell time there with my male cousin. It was so fun and thrilling for a kampung girl (with big, big wooden house) to stay in a pigeon hole flat.
The visit on Monday got my brain working overtime. I wonder if our politicians and the power up there are doing anything to improve the lives of these residents? Living in such small space is sure to bring out the worst in every person. Can we then blame these people for committing crimes, doing badly in their studies, mistreat their loved ones as in child/spouse abuse, alcoholism and etc? Have anyone of us walk a mile in their shoes? Wait…I am not saying that these people who lived in densely populated areas are criminals nor neither am I implying that it is not wrong to commit crime. But I suppose it is not their own choice that they have to live life like that.
If you think you are poor, think again. There are many people out there who are really, really poor.