The gift…

Mother’s Day falls on this Sunday, the day after tomorrow. These days, more and more women are pre-occupied with their careers and the pursuit of material wealth. Many opt not to get married and those who are would put off having any children. In view of this, perhaps the following story may be of interest to some of you…

          Money, money, money! Money makes the world go round, or so they say and I, for one, prescribed by that age-old adage or at least, at a certain point in time in my life. Born with a silver spoon in my mouth, I had always basked in luxury and having inherited the family fortune, my life was bliss, to say the least. With the millions stashed in my bank accounts and more invested in thriving business enterprises in the country and abroad, I could have everything I wanted. 

          Friends swarmed around me like ants to sugar and everyone was at my beck and call.  I would get invited to the most posh functions – charity events, award presentation ceremonies and the like, where I would have the opportunity to rub shoulders with the rich and famous. But then again, was I not one myself – rich and famous? Vacations were spent at the world’s most exclusive holiday resorts and I would go on frequent shopping sprees at the renowned fashion centres – Milan, Paris or New York.

          Inevitably, it had become the norm for me to always be smartly dressed in branded haute couture from the internationally-prominent designers as somehow or other, I felt people would judge me by my clothes and accessories and hence, I too would habitually judge others by the way they dressed. Consequently, I considered it impertinent that I should look my best at any time of day.

          It was pouring cats and dogs that eventful day when I was rushing home from a lunch date with an old acquaintance I happened to bump into a couple of days earlier.  My limousine careened into the driveway and out of the dreadful downpour into the immense car porch of my majestic bungalow.  As I stepped out of the car, I noticed a skinny, sunburnt and shrivelled woman with a baby in her arms dashing in, a mere split second before my electronically-controlled automatic gate had closed completely.

Old woman and baby

SOURCE: Yaninpo’s photo/www.flickr.com

          The distraught security guard attempted to get her to leave but to no avail. Apologetically, he explained to me that she was only seeking shelter from the rain for her and her baby and promised to leave as soon as the rain stopped. I shivered, not because of the cold but because I was utterly disgusted by the repulsive sight of the woman, dressed in rags that must have undergone a thousand washings and there was a horrendous stench about her.  The grime on her wrinkled face was probably a few days old and her rotting teeth under her dry, parched lips were enough to make my stomach churn.  I willed for the rain to stop but it started to pour even harder. Left with no other option, I told the guard to keep and eye on her and make sure that she stayed put at the car porch and did not venture anywhere in my immaculate home for fear that she would contaminate the vicinity merely by her presence and who knows, she might help herself to something in the house – something that probably was of little value to me but would be priceless to the likes of her.

          This was not the first time I had seen the woman.  She was regularly spotted in the neighbourhood, known as the “Millionaires’ Row” for obvious reasons, going from house to house begging for alms.  I for one, did not believe in handing out freebies, so I had strictly instructed my guard not to let her in despite the incessant chimes of my doorbell.  I never gave alms to beggars; as a matter of fact, I detested them and regarded them as dirty, useless creatures with no sense of pride whatsoever. After a while, the desolate woman would just give up and move on.

          I was just about to turn to walk into the house when I heard the gurgling sounds made by the baby.  Inadvertently, I cast a glance at the infant and in stark contrast to the mother, he was a sight to behold.  Both mother and child were soaked to the skin and shivering from the cold. Taking off my selendang (shawl), I threw it unceremoniously to the mother who promptly wrapped her son with it.  The baby cooed as his soft skin came in contact with the soft, rich texture of the silk fabric. He smiled a toothless grin that was one of sheer happiness and I felt an unfamiliar emotion stir in my heart.

          Tears welled in my eyes as it dawned upon me that despite being blessed with all my material wants, something of crucial significance was missing in my life. All I had done was to cast to them my selendang, one of the hundreds that I had in my wardrobe and even that was not given with any sincerity but the innocent little baby had in return given me a priceless gift – a genuine smile and in doing so, touched my heart in a way it had never been touched before.  That gesture from the little one, though seemingly-insignificant, gave me the ability to feel for the first time in my life.

To those of you who are already enjoying the joys of motherhood, a very Happy Mother’s Day to all of you…