Friday, June 9, 2017

What Gives Meaning...

Was scrubbing the floor this morning when this thought came to mind... what gives meaning actually to the things we do? I think we'll get all sorts of reasons... convictions, remunerations, threats, fears, compulsion..... the list is there.

Housework is one of those thankless jobs around and many of us would come up with all kinds of excuses and reasons why we need not do it, or if we have to do it, no need to be so particular about it. Was just thinking. What if housework is also paid in cash? Would the same sort of arguments against it now be used? Or the job will get the kind of attention that we so often reserve for those paid ones?

Even though many women work these days, their husbands generally do less housework in Asian countries. While many try not to say anything adverse about who should get the housework done, women generally still shoulder the bulk of the house stuff... from seeing to the food on the table, to laundry, getting the groceries, clearing and cleaning. And women themselves too, put housework as less than paid work too. There was a working lady who told me that she is not too particular about the number of times the floor of her house needs to be swept every week. I wonder if she would say the same if housework is paid.

The thing was this. As I scrubbed away the dirt on the floor outside, I was suddenly amused by this thought that if that job would pay the me same as I was in my job, I am sure everyone would stop labelling being fastidious in household chores as being necessary, even good.

And here's this. To those wives, and mothers who toiled laboriously year after year, and in the end still get the shorter end of the deal, it is you actually who truly understand what it means to be accountable and even admirable in those mundane, meaningless tasks that you do day in and day out.

Oh ya... this is a sober reminder. Even for those of us who hold jobs that pay us money, there is also an expiration date to on us in that job. And at the end of the day when we are told that we need to leave because we have reached expiration dates, I think many of us do not know what to do with our lives too, cos all that we've known in all those productive years of ours is work equals remunerations that can be quantified. Some of us lose the focus in life. We become listless. Some of us are fortunate enough to find a second calling. Others just float along. Then there are those who simply just expire.

So, what gives meaning... Wonder Woman is the current blockbuster. In the movie, Diana finally decided to fight for humanity because of love. Love manifests itself in many forms. For those of us, whose mothers toiled unrelentingly in the kitchen making sure there is food, or fastidiously kept the floors clean so that we could just plop on the floor anytime of the day, or even coming home to not a single unfolded clothes lying around... perhaps that is what actually gives meaning.

While eventually all these mundane tasks might be taken over by bots or drones or whatever things robotic by nature, meaning in life sometimes does not necessarily have to be big things only. It is the small things that enable big achievements.

Ah well... ramblings on a morning of floor scrubbing...

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

On A School Day Outside SJK (C) Kok Min

This is the scene that unfolds outside my childhood house every school day... Cars on their way to pick their precious cargoes. And the line of cars... big and small, old and new, imported and local... they take up all the space outside the house, making it impossible for occupants of the houses to go in or out. Appeals and complaints have fallen on deaf ears. The school authorities say they can't do anything... two lines of cars heading the same direction, on a two way street.

I was rather irate when I came back and had to wait in line to get into my parents' house. I mean, I can well understand half of the road being occupied but cars occupying both sides of a two way street? And to make matters worse, some cars were already lined up on the road at 11.30 a.m. when school was supposed to end at 1 something. I do not know whether it is kiasu or kiasi at work here? Lots of fuel gets burned daily here, with engines idling. However, what struck me was their attitude towards the environment and the health of the people who live nearby.. and to themselves ultimately.. as they sat in their air conditioned cars while their cars spewed out noxious fumes.

The school says they can't do anything. I talked to the guard and he said, the Headmaster tried to talk to the parents and got scolded. They sound so helpless... and they are the institution churning out the next generation. I wonder whether I am in a factory...

The school has been around ever since we moved here. There used to be another gate which led out at the other side of the school. They have sealed that entrance. I don't know whether it is because there is Chinese cemetery facing that now closed exit. All of us know the Chinese and their fengshui. Sure bad luck to go out facing cemetery.. Or they could always utilise part of the school field to allow those early kiasu/kiasi parents to park their cars. Maybe then they will shut their engine off since they are in the close proximity of their precious cargoes.... out of concern that they might be introducing carcinogenic substances that will affect their zuriat. And the Headmaster says they are helpless against the parents who can be verbally abusive.... (is it any wonder why Malaysians are getting more violent/abusive these days?)

Or perhaps maybe the only solution is when an emergency happens and someone dies because the ambulance cannot get in because it has to wait in line... or even worse still for somebody to run amok on a bad hair day?

Congestion can be tolerated if both parties give and take.... but when cars park outside your house for an hour with engine running... and both sides of the road filled up, it feels like only one side is tolerating all the time.

One thing I always find funny is how Chinese school kids are taught to kowtow to teachers as a mark of respect when they bump into them at school. My mind always wanders back to the stories of subjects who prostrated themselves coming and going out of the emperor's court. Somehow, that very act of kowtow-ing always conjures up an atmosphere of fear... Yet when these kids grow up into adults, they seem to have forgotten how to respect other people's rights too.... so much for school as a place where we instil good community spirit.

My mom told me that some of the (grand)parents have taken to helping themselves to the fruits on her limau purut tree too. She called out to a man plucking the fruits recently, telling him that all he needed to do was just ask. He walked away nonchalantly, a uniformed kid in tow... Such is the attitude of the old now... jia-lat.