“..prostitution is the easiest way of getting money..” she said.
This good friend of mine, Ana, which I have known since primary school had once think about prostitution. But who’s to blame? Living in poverty does not give you many choices.
Knowing her during my childhood, I learned what it likes to be poor from her.
Living in same neighborhood, our friendship is not only at school, but also at home. Her grandparent’s house is just around the corner from my house.
She lives with her grandparent since her parent who collect and sell old boxes for living cannot afford to take care of many children on their own.
Being the eldest, she has to do the sacrifice of being far from her parent and siblings.
Every morning she will wait for me in front of my house gate.
Then we cycle together to school. She will bring along curry puff made by her grandmother and we go to the canteen together to give the curry puff to the canteen worker.
They help selling those curry puff and take some commission from it.
“Better less than nothing,” she always said it when I asked whether it worth it to get only little money by selling curry puff at canteen.
Every morning, before the class begins, almost every kid in my class will surround our table (‘ours’ since we sit next to each other) to see what she brings that day to sell.
Usually, their favorites are mango pudding and spicy peanut sambal.
Our table will be such a chaos when she brings those two snacks. Everyone will scramble because nobody wants to miss their favorite pudding and peanut sambal.
It was fun to see everything sold out. She will be very happy to get money because that is the least she could do to help her grandparent.
Hardship does not make Ana mean.
Even though she never have enough money to buy anything she likes, but that does not stop her from making others happy in her own way.
Almost every day, the curry puff she put at the canteen will never sold out. I think because the price is not reasonable for primary school student during that time.
20 cent plus 10 cent for the commission, the demand became low. Poor Ana. I feel really sorry for her but what an eleven years old me done is helping her to finish the curry puff by myself, not by buying it.
It was so expensive to me at that time since my parent just gives enough money to survive till evening school.
Ana does not mind. “At least we do not waste it. We got pahala by giving it to you,” she said referring to her grandmother advice.
What a beautiful heart you and your grandma got there, my friend. May God bless you both.
Other than that, Ana also never failed to remember my birthday.
Even she cannot afford to buy me expensive present, she will replace it with what for me are even more meaningful present, which is her handmade birthday letters.
I may be not look so happy, but trust me, I really appreciate them. I kept them in my secret box for almost ten years this year.
We both also have these books we use to chit chat in during class lesson to avoid being scolded by teachers if we speak. When the book is finish and we have to buy another book to write on, she is always be the one who buy it.
I did not meant to be stingy but I forgot to buy it all the times. As it is difficult for us to not having book to chit chat, she always volunteered to buy it by herself.
What makes me really proud of having a friend like her is her attitude.
Her politeness when talking to others, her patience in dealing with life and her spirit in learning despite lacking in many things compared to other kids makes me respect her more.
Sometimes, her kindness makes her the object of bullied for other kids. Being a little bit tough, my duty is teaching her how to deal with those rude kids.
I remember forcing her to say no when one of our classmates ask her to throw their rubbish in the dustbin. My teaching somehow worked as she then get less bullied and survived the whole year successfully.
We both got 5As in Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination during our 6th grade.
We were then entering high school. Sadly, that is the time for us to be far away from each other since I got accepted to boarding school, while Ana continue study in nearest school at our house.
We only meet once in a while when I am back home during weekend.
As years goes by, we are getting more and more apart. I heard she became wild. I heard her dress up changed. I heard she does not come back home at night. I heard she skip classes. I was angry. I hate what I heard from others.
What makes me angrier is when one day I bumped into her at the mall and all the rumors I heard turned out to be true.
I hurt so much seeing what she has become; free hair, short pants and a baby tee. Where did my decent looking best friend gone?
She used to wear baju kurung or long sleeved shirt with scarf. Where did she gone?
She called me and I ignored her. I hurt so much seeing her like that. I hate having to accept what others talked about her is true.
After that incident, we lost contact. Maybe she thinks I do not want to be friend with her anymore. That is why she does not contact me.
As for me, I found out she is not staying with her grandparent anymore. As years go by, I finally found her Facebook account.
From the social media, I found out she works and lives at Kuala Lumpur with her friends. I saw pictures of her at night club, with sexy dress up, blonde hair and a rich boyfriend.
She became so wild. From our friend, I knew her Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) and Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination results are so bad.
What a waste. She used to be a brilliant student when we were at primary school. Thinking of her family condition breaks my heart even more.
One fine day after a few years, miracle happens. In her Facebook account, I saw another picture of her. But this time, it is not a sexy pose anymore.
At first I cannot believe with what I saw as the girl in the picture covers her whole body except for the eyes.
But knowing her for a long time, I would not mistakenly recognize her eyes. I greet her, and she replied. And that was two years ago.
Until now, our friendship has become like before again. She has changed to the better one, and I had asked for her forgiveness for not saving her when she is lost.
She broke up with her rich boyfriend who only chase after her body, she left her friends when they decided to stay in their ‘fun’ life, and she moved back to our hometown, Kedah.
Her grandparents were gone forever.
She is now staying with her family, working in a small hand phone store to support her parent in raising her brother and sisters.
We met every time I go back to hometown. We shares problem. We have each other’s support. Things were back like ten years before again.
When I asked about her life during and after high school, she said:
“Bad choice of friends during high school years; that is how it is all started. I was culture shocked.
After high school, I moved to Kuala Lumpur with some of my friends. With bad SPM result, I cannot find a good work with expensive salary. I was so desperate back then.
I used to think of being a prostitute because that is the easiest way of getting money. With a body and face like this I can easily attract man.
Then I met my rich boyfriend from a friend, he offers me job at the factory where he worked. It was such a good fortune to me.
I do not only have a job with a good salary, but I also got a rich boyfriend who can give me many things I can never get from my parent, as long as I entertain him, only him.
At that time I think it was fine. At least I do not have to be a prostitute.”
Talking about her changes, she said during her wild years, she did felt really empty in her heart even she has money and a boyfriend to love and be loved.
Deep in her heart she knows what she needs to do to feel alright again.
It is just the matter of time for her to find courage to leave her comfortable but sinful life. Finally, one day she just did.
Life now has become harder since the salary she got working at the hand phone store is only a little, but what is more important now for her is the God and family bless.
It is not easy, but she never regrets taking the step back to God. She felt better than before.
I, being a friend promise to not leave her again even in the darkest of time.
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