After all the sitting through love-struck couples during my exam time, I decided it was time for me to take a break and not stare at the computer screen for a few days. Actually, I was just trying to get more used to people at my new place. Have you ever realized it takes longer than you think to do that? Right when I felt I was there, I tried to go and find the laundrette, and ended up in a room filled with four non-functional washing machines and my coins stuck in the coin slot. I was cursing my luck for picking up a time of the day when there was absolutely no chance of someone visiting and helping me out. And then, I met the lady who takes care of laundry for students, or ‘laundry aunty’ , as she is affectionately called. I explained my situation to her and she listened to it intently, smiling all the time. When she did not reply to me for a whole minute after I had tried to explain things to her, I knew what had just happened.
‘You have no idea what I just said to you, do you?’, I asked.
she smiled. And spoke to me in chinese.
Sigh. Bye bye my 3 dollars.
At that time, I was really wondering why the administration would let her work if she could not even speak basic english. Then I came to know her story. She is a woman from a chinese village who has three kids because her mother-in-law wanted a grandson, who was born third. Since they are only allowed to have one child in China, the aunty has to pay a fine for the other two. Having no money to pay for the fine, she borrowed some money and came to singapore in search of work, leaving her family behind. I found out the amount of money she pays back every year and the amount she earns. It is going to be a good 40 to 50 years before she can pay the full amount back. This means no family for her for so long. Since that day, when I look at her I feel concerned. For her and millions of other people who migrate with the hope of being able to make ends meet at home and end up in such situations. Really, one the one hand we have people who buy private Jet planes for their wives on birthday and on the other are these, whose lives are centered around sending and receiving money to get out of a debt. Life is unfair, after all, isn’t it?