She's been on my mind for quite some time now.
Whenever I have the time to speak to her during class, I will ask her a few questions. The same old stories.
But a whole lot of understanding towards the definition of struggle, happiness and sadness. I used to think that it is just impossible to live a life like what she's been living now. But she's the living proof. At least she is one of the many people who share the same fate as hers.
It all started when I noticed her staying in class with some rations to eat during recess. I asked her to go to the canteen to join other kids having their break. She politely refused. Between her smiles and silent giggles, she admitted of frequently bringing food from home to munch. And that is if she has something to bring. Always, there are some bread and plain water.
So the conversation stopped there.
And it soon continued when I got to know her more. She is an orphan. The mother is unemployed as she is also unwell, receiving small funds from the government to feed all mouths in the house. Only few hundreds Ringgit Malaysia monthly for 5 members staying in the house in the middle of the country's capital city. They have nowhere else to go but staying put in this big city as the house is theirs.
That house is their only possession. Apart from having each other as a family. They survive. Happily so far.
I know she is not the only one. She isn't the worst.
There are many others who come from broken homes, where there is no food at all on the table. Don't mention of having decent meals, even some bites are impossible. Let alone having some pocket money to spend. Some of them find ways to cover for the hunger by going to the canteen and "share" others' food by hook or by crook. They would normally ask, when ignored or denied, they would snatch the food from their friends' plates. They are normally boys.
Try to put your hungry kids at a table for a couple of hours and ask them to read and concentrate. Ask them to respond. Ask them to communicate, give ideas and find answers. If I were one of the kids, I would have fainted first, then, got up again and puked. I might vomit on the books, on my friends' heads and also on the teacher's feet. For all I know, it is quite impossible to study when you are damn hungry.
"Mummy, when are we going for the holidays?"
"There are many others who cannot even make it to the canteen today, you know?"
"Hah? What is that? What are you talking about, mummy?"