All that love went to waste…

He led a very simple and frugal life…going around on his old, rickety motorcycle and it appeared to me that he wore the same shirt and trousers every day of the week. His shoes had lost its lustre and looked terribly worn out. He never joined us when we went out to eat…and I would see him drinking water and eating his plain bread. How he scrimped and saved and ever so often, he would bring some stuff for sale to all and sundry to add to his income.

His shabby, unkempt appearance certainly did not help one bit and one would think that he was a really very poor man. But one fine day, he invited us to his house for dinner. I cannot remember what the celebration was for – probably his son’s graduation. It was a very nice house – simple like him but quite big and decent…and somebody told me that he had at least one or two more houses and some pieces of land but we did not know how many he had left eventually as he had to sell some of those to pay for his son’s education overseas.

He has retired, of course, but I would see him walking around dropping by coffee shops and going from table to table to try and sell some fruits and stuff. Sometimes, I would see him sitting by the roadside calling out to passers-by and that day, he was selling durians…

Durian 1

I’m not a fan of durian…and never one to go and buy and eat. My daughter’s the same so unless we get some from somebody, my in-laws perhaps, we would just go without it as the seasons come and go.

He could still remember me, that old man and everytime we met, he would call out to me but something tells me that he has forgotten my name. He calls me “towkay” (boss). That day, he told me that the durians he was selling were very good and he kept persuading me to buy. In the end, I chose one and he charged me RM12.00 for it…

Durian 2

He told me  to take another one – two for RM20.00 but I told him that there were only two persons at home and we couldn’t possibly eat so much.

Actually, I really did not want to buy but I only did it as a gesture of friendship towards somebody that I used to know. It wasn’t really good – the durian…

Durian 3

On a scale of 0-10, I would probably give it a 6 or at best, a 7. But it didn’t really matter. As they say, it’s the thought that counts.

Going back to the man’s story, I heard something very sad that transpired between him and his son eventually. The latter was working overseas and I guess he still does and at one time, the father went abroad to visit him. Over the years, he never changed – he still looked the same…and somebody told me that when he was there, some of his son’s friends dropped  by the house for a visit and they asked him who the old man was. The son told them that he was…his old gardener from home.

The poor man heard that and even though he was not really conversant in English, he could understand what had been said. Heart-broken, he packed his bags and came home… All that love, it seemed, had gone to waste.