When the kids were young, they could never get enough of my bedtime stories. You see, I didn't read from storybooks, I churned out a different story every night.
Invariably, the stories were always about two little boys who got into trouble. From wandering into the forest to meeting big bad wolves or evil witches, there was always a moral behind each one.
"You're talking about us. We don't want to be eaten by big bad wolves!" They chorused.
It must be fun to hear about themselves because they always begged for more.
I was quite happy to humour my little ones even after a long day at work. They were easy to please. They appreciated even the most boring or ridiculous stories.
Those glorious days are over of course. They have access to news, gossips and stories from various medias, they don't need my bedtime stories. Now it is my turn to listen to theirs, that is if they are in the mood to tell.
Today, I was captivated by the stories of an old electrician who came to do some work at my house. He's way past his retirement, so his movements are a little slow. We chatted while he worked. He was here for many hours, so we talked about many things.
His father died when he was 6, so he never knew what it was like to have one. When the political situation in Malaysia became too chaotic, his mother sold the only asset they had (timber from the big fat tree in the front yard) and made the arduous journey to Singapore with her brood of 6 kids.
Life in Singapore was hard but she brought them up single-handedly without any help. It was obvious that he was full of admiration for his mum.
"She wasn't very beautiful but she always looked so radiant."
When I asked if she's still around, his eyes turned misty.
"Unfortunately she met with a tragic accident. While standing on the road pavement one day, a car came so close that her shirt got caught in the car's bumper. She was dragged along the road for some distance. By the time the driver realised, it was too late."
He spoke about parental love and sacrifice. Maybe he found a captive audience in me, he even shared his own story.
He has three boys of his own. The youngest, who is 22 years old, is also the smartest. He aspires to be a doctor. Knowing that his parents could not afford to pay for his education, he turned to betting hoping that a winning streak could help fund his education. It was a foolish move of course. He ended up heavily in debt. His brothers poured out their life savings but it wasn't enough.
To stop the loan sharks from harrassing them, the father negotiated with the lenders and started working again despite his old age. He can't bear to see his young son sink further into depression.
It's another sad story. Just as he was leaving, he received a call from one of the lenders.
"Yes, I will pay you the instalment tomorrow." I heard him say.