She must have been in her late 40s. I have seen her for quite a few times around our neighbourhood, on her bicycle with a basket attached. She would cycle, calling out to the residents… ” MAU POTONG RUMPUT KAAA??” In her Indian accented Malay. Normally we would give it a pass as the husband invested in an electrical grass cutter for our small garden and would do it himself on days he feels like some workout.
However, these past few weeks the nylon thread needed for the grass cutter went missing, which we suspected that the part-time maids we called prior to my dad’s visit a month ago– stashed it somewhere in our cabinets and had forgotten to inform us the locations of our mess. So since my big ma’am aka my mother was coming today and the garden was already a labyrinth of weeds, the husband decided to call that ‘auntie’.
And she came, on her bicycle and her grass cutter. Although she coughed periodically, she did her work diligently and sometimes I would hear her break into some Tamil tunes. She’s obviously having a flu as she was blowing her nose every now and then while working. I was observing all these from my bedroom window, oblivious to her of course. After she has finally made our garden decent again, she asked for her payment, which is Rm 35 for 1.5 hours of ( hard ) work.
During the transaction, she said ” Aiyo banyak sorry lah. Ini hari saya tidak berapa sihat lah. Kalau saya sihat ah…ini semua satu jam saya boleh kasi habis… lagi cantik saya buat “
She’s her own boss, as we learnt today. She runs her own business of cutting grass and keeping the gardens of the houses in our neighbourhood neat and tidy. She doesn’t have the academic qualifications to be one of those hoity-toity women in the office, but she’s independent, earns her own keep and does something which she is really good at. She takes pride in her job, as I could see and she seemed to enjoy it, singing and humming as she let the electronic grass cutter moved to the grooves. A quick calculation had me thinking… let’s say she mows an average of 5 gardens a day. That’s like Rm 35×5 = Rm 175. If she mows like 20 days per month, that would make her Rm 175 x 20= Rm 3500 a month! Now that’s like what a Petronas graduate would earn say 3 years into the job?
Now instead of just being the ‘makcik grass cutter’, my whole worldview of her made a paradigm shift. She’s an inspiring and enterprising role model to emulate instead. Work hard, work smart, work with pride. Use all your faculties. Use all your means. Never whine because there are others worse off than you. I get all that, from just a simple grass cutter who spent 1.5 hours in our compound today.
Like the saying goes, God’s sustenance is everywhere. You just need to look for it and work hard for it. The problem is, many of us here are too lazy and choose to wait for handouts instead. Either that, or wait for inheritance. Or, for gold which rains down from the sky. Whichever one that comes first.