Monday, August 06, 2007

Memories down the lane II – A family across the lake

Across the small lake, lived a rubber tapper’s family. Surrounded by little forest and miles of rubber estate, they lived in isolation. The area is hardly accessible by four wheelers and the family didn’t care much about this, as their mode of transportation was only by bicycle. Being adventurous, I used to trespass the area just to have a peek at this curious family of four. The family comprised of mother, father, a daughter and a son. They were not rich. Working for others, they could possibly earn not more than RM10.00 per person by rubber tapping and with husband and wife working, perhaps RM20.00 per day. That amount would be sufficient to maintain and manage their daily necessities. I understand that the kids had never been to school and no one in my area bothered to think of that. Each minded their own business, unless they have something sensational to gossip about.

I rarely saw them in the small town where we lived. Being very inquisitive, I enquired some of my friends and my dad’s friends about the family but to no avail, as none could provide me with many details. Yet, I was adamant to find out why they isolate themselves to such an extent of living in a not easily accessible area. One has to walk or cycle for miles before reaching their place and at some point of the track one has to push the bicycle to reach the closest range of the house. It was an old wooden dilapidated house. The planks spoke a good history for over many decades. The dark grey colors of the planks were an indication that paint had never touched the surface.

Day by day my curiosity increased and devouring my conscience slowly. I couldn’t tolerate the agony of having too many questions without proper answers to each of them. One day, I managed to brainwash one of my friend who seemed to know the boy of the house, at least to the extent of waving hands. When we reached there, the father looked at us smilingly without a word. He didn’t even open his mouth to ask us what we were doing there. Instead, he pushed his bicycle and went his way minding his own work. The entire aura around the house was mysterious. A few minutes later, the boy came out from the house and waved at my friend. Nothing more than that and he went inside the house, never return again. I was wonderstruck at these sorts of odd behaviors. My friend was equally perplexed to see this. There was no sign of electric supply nor telephone line. And, looking around the house, I could see only some containers used to carry rubber, old rusted iron bars, fire wood stacked nicely and a few chicken running around to break the silence.

Upon completion of my intermediate secondary school education, I left my town to continue my high school at a distant town. However, the questions about the family, kept flashing in my head all the time during my high school. After a couple of years, I returned to my hometown and began to prod again into this mysterious family. I was very disappointed to know that they had already left the place without telling anyone. As time went by, I came to know that the boy was suffering from some kind of sickness and the parents couldn’t afford to give him the proper treatment. It seemed that they were too disappointed with the people around, who refused to render helping hands in the moments of dire distress. Thus, they moved far from the society. Moreover, later I found out that the boy died due to lack of proper treatment and medication.

It’s really a sad tragedy for mankind, especially at this age of progress and advancement in medical field; they are people, still deprived of their rights for a proper treatment.

What can we call this? Attitude problem?. I would say ‘Yes’. The family should understand they shouldn’t blame the whole population for one or two ignorant fools and the society too should have made a rigorous effort to sustain the family through many means available such as NGOs, temples and political parties. It was too late. I pray and hope, such thing won’t repeat itself once again.

Errors under your tender care.

Mistakes are mine.

Corrections are yours.

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