After three weeks of uncertainty, chaos and a LOT of phone calls, bargaining, arguing and new experiences, I have finally settled down at my new place. Well, almost. I am still pondering over which television to buy, but hopefully by this weekend, I shall make up my mind. Last night when I finally reached home, I felt a quiet sense of peace and achievement, when I looked around. I know, the house is old, the flooring is ugly and the elevator refuses to stop at the second floor (anyway I take the stairs, so doesn’t really make a difference). Still, this is the first home that I set up ALL BY MYSELF: right from sweet-talking the security guard, deciding which bed to buy, hanging up the curtains to choosing which pictures to put up in the hall. In the process, I did fall off the chair a couple of times (still got bruises on my left arm), I did visit the police station and I did miss out on my beauty sleep for quite some time. But, finally, it seems all worth it. I go to a park twice a day and my office/ bank/ dmart/ KFC/ Dominos/ Aromas/ a mall are all five minutes away…
In the process, I also saw gut-wrenching poverty, like REAL POVERTY: the pint-sized old woman who helped me clean the apartment or the emaciated labourers who moved my stuff. The advantage of growing up in a middle class family is you have the highest respect for dignity of labour and I don’t just mean lip service. So I didn’t have to think twice before I doubled up as the third labourer when the two fragile men struggled to carry the refrigerator up the stairs or cleaned up the bathroom, previously used by other people.
Obviously, my parents weren’t exactly thrilled with my adventures and found it very difficult to accept that their ONLY CHILD (note: now I am a CHILD, but when it comes to the marriage discussion, I am an old maid… talk about double standards) was “struggling so much”. They even felt guilty and helpless because they “couldn’t do anything to make it easier for me.”
But I assured them they had given me the greatest gift that any parent could possibly give their kids: EMPOWERMENT. As a kid, I was sometimes resentful that my folks ALWAYS made life difficult for me: no private tuitions, no maid to clean up after me, no car to drive me to school, no cell phones till I was in my 2nd year in college, limited pocket money and definitely no spoon-feeding. The most annoying part was they NEVER told me what to do: like ONE SINGLE COURSE OF ACTION. They would just give me options (clothes to buy, holiday destinations or even college major), explain the possible constraints and the consequences, but leave my young, inexperienced head to obsess over the final decision. More often than not, I would make the wrong choices (relationships included), and it was at those unexpected moments, that they would spoil me rotten when I least expected it.
Anyway, long story short, when I look at myself or my quaint little home, I feel like Barbie in her dollhouse, but a responsible one, who can take care of herself, irrespective of the circumstances.