makcik keropok

November 6, 2009

If you live in the Bangsar/Damansara area, you might have seen this one really old lady selling keropok and kerepek packed in plastic. She is very very skinny and she wears kain batik around her head.

Whenever I see her, there’s a sharp pain in my heart. I feel so sad that she looks so frail and she’s still selling things outside shops, on nothing else but the bare floor. Everytime people pass by and ignore her looking up at them hopefully, I feel like smacking those people. You don’t just ignore an old lady on the floor! Didn’t your mother teach you manners?! At least smile at her!

So I always buy buckets of snacks from her. Even if I don’t want them. Because I could always find friends and colleagues to eat them. If I had more hands, I would buy all the limited number of keropok she sold everyday. It’s not a lot anyway. 3 big packets of keropok for RM5.

I haven’t seen her in a while, so when I saw her yesterday I exclaimed and squatted on the floor in front of her, “Makcik!!! Long time no see!” I don’t think she remembers me, but she smiled anyway and asked how I was. Just like that I bought half of what she had laid on the floor.

A lady came next to us. “How much is one?”

“It’s RM5 for 3 packets. Buy 3 la.”

“No, I only want one,” the lady said in an irritated tone.

Boy, she irritated me! I gave her a look. I looked at her handbag; Gucci. Was it so difficult to give RM5 to this old fragile lady?! Who cares if you only want 1. Just buy 3 and give people la! You’ll get a better deal anyway.

The old lady looked so sad when Gucci walked away with just one packet. She sighed and looked up waiting for more people to pass by. And that made me want to cry. I wanted to turn back and buy the rest of the keropok she had, but my hands were full and I couldn’t exactly use my teeth to carry the packets.

So, I just walked away with a heavy heart.

My driver told me recently, “That old lady is actually very rich you know.”


“Yeah, every morning her kid sends her to sell the keropok in a Mercedes. Then he picks her up again when she’s done.”

A lot of emotions came to me. Shocked, happy that she’s actually well-to-do, but at the same time sad because her kid makes her sell things by the roadside and leaves her there the whole day.

“She’s old, V. What else is there for her to do everyday? Maybe she enjoys selling things. She gets to meet all sorts of people, gets to fill her time etc.”

I thought about it and he had a point. Maybe it was her wish to sell keropok everyday, but still….I would never let my parents or grandma do that! If they were soooo adamant about wanting to sell things, then fine. I would accompany them, or at least get someone’s help to do so if I’m working. I would at least give them a proper table and chair to sit on and have their lunch all prepared. And a mobile phone so I can call them all the time…..OMG what if they have to go to the toilet?? I will have to put a portable loo next to them. And maybe a portable air-conditioner in case they get hot…and a little bed in case they get tired? OMG forget it…they’re not selling things by the roadside.

How could you let your own mother sit on the floor with worn-out non-slippers, in faded ragged clothes?! On the bare dirty floor that people pass by and spit on everyday!! At least lay out a mat or something.

What if the old lady suddenly fell while carrying those plastic bags full of keropok? What if she gets really tired? Where does she eat everyday? What if she’s thirsty and she cannot leave her selling area?

As anger was surging through me, my driver told me something else that made my blood boil.

He said, “But her son is heartless. He sent her one day, and she said she didn’t feel like selling today and she just wanted to go home. She begged him to send her home. He scolded her and forced her to sell anyway. And just drove off.”

I have no more words but $^£%&%@£%!$!£^$* YOU.

I pictured her face and I felt a big lump in my throat. I feel sick knowing there are people like the son around in this world. So rude, so ungrateful, so obnoxious, so heartless. If he doesn’t want her, I’ll take care of her! At least Opah will have a friend when I’m at work.

Sigh, I wish I had all the money in world. I know you all think the first thing I’d do is go to Chanel and wipe out the handbags, but really, I’d love to open an old folk’s home. A really fun, happy one. Opah can be my manager. Hehe.