There is this aged old grandmother who sits outside the bank selling an assortment of kerepeks/kerupuks. She’s so aged that when she walks, her hunchback is obvious for all to see. Her crinkled skin hangs losely upon her thin bones and she has very few teeth left. She wears a ‘tudung selempang’ on her head as though she has a date with the padi fields. My students call her ‘nenek kerepek’ and all of us make it a point to buy from her, regardless whether we need any kerepeks to munch. She would always go ‘2 ghriye’… which is what the Kelantanese say for Rm 2. She refuses to take donation, and whenever we give her more than what we are paying for, telling her to keep the change, she would always shove extra packets of kerupuk/kerepek into our hands and waves us away, as though to say she is not here for charity but honest to goodness work selling kerepek. It helps that her kerepek/kerupuk are tasty.
There is another lady, younger than nenek kerepek who stands outside the minimarket the people in our neighbourhood frequent. She has a basket in her hands and for hours, she would stand, greeting each person going into and out of the minimarket, promoting her wares–beaded bracelets. While waiting for me to do my grocery shopping one day, the husband chatted her up and found out that she is a single mother looking for extra income to support her children. We had wanted to give her some cash, whatever little we can do for her but she vehemently refused saying she is here to sell her products, not to beg. And rain or shine, she would always be there.
For the last one year or so I’ve lived in this neighbourhood, these two have been my role models.