Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving thanks

I was leaving the office yesterday and I saw the elderly cleaning lady sitting on a piece of cardboard, bent over and scraping muck off the bottom of the walls. When I came in the morning, she was already here mopping the floors. When I walk around throughout the day, she can be seen mopping, sweeping, cleaning, dusting and always working, working, working. Seeing her diligently at her job, the thought a me about how fortunate I am, being who and what I am.

Today, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving which commemorates the day some Indian pilgrims got lost searching for their pet turkeys and ended up eating some English mayflowers with corn for dinner ... or something like that.

I too need to give thanks, and give lots of it. I actually really admire the old lady as she’s doing an honest and terrific job. She’s really hardworking and works long hours and even on weekends. But I’m very fortunate because I have it easy, so very easy compared to her and so many other hardworking decent people. Some people have it so hard.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not rich, not by a very, very, very long shot. But I have had a great and wonderful life, a terrific and loving childhood (I was not only happy, but ecstatic through most of it) courtesy of my late grandfather of beloved memory and my grandmother and breezed through a great schooling life, the marching band and numerous clubs and societies at a wonderful institution where tradition still meant something.

God save the Penang Free School! [cos only He can, now]

My college years were wonderful too, surrounded by good and close friends. I played lots of football and ping pong (when I was supposed to be in class) and was addicted to Counterstrike which I played at smoke filled dark parlours in the wee hours of the morning. I was also active in many societies and clubs and rose to lead many of them including the Engineering Society, the Editorial Board, the Christian Fellowship and the Gateway Project Team. I was also in the Catholic Student’s Society and the Internet Research and Development Team (where we organized a Counterstrike tourney in the college computer labs!) besides being a tutor. Those were fun times and as an added bonus, I even achieved a childhood dream of being Valedictorian of my graduating class and spoke before a crowd of thousands [who could not run away because the doors were locked =)]. And I did all that without letting my education get in the way of learning.

In Church, I was privileged enough to lead the Youth for a couple of years, lead the novena once a month and occasionally, even take a few Catechism classes as a substitute teacher. I now teach bible study and I’m supposed to be teaching the confirmation year kids next year besides directing our garage schola which was officially invited to sing for Masses starting this Advent. I now have a comfy job which is flexible enough to give me the time I need to carry out my various activities. For all this, I give thanks.

Things were not hunky dory all the time. Life was hard too. We were a rather poor family and sometimes, we had to scrape through with very little. Of course, I was shielded from this by my grandparents and their heroic sacrifice. I never went hungry but neither did I ask for the latest toys or for stuff that caught my fancy. And believe you me, as an inquisitive young lad, many things did but I learned early on never to ask. I grew up on TV (black and white, only 2 channels) and learned loads from Sesame Street. I had to take 2 buses to school and 2 buses back with a long wait at a smoke infested, dirty terminal in between. And this continued through college though it was 1 bus each way by then (Yay!) and only got my own transportation when I started working.

I did win many prizes and awards throughout my academic career but this joy was tempered by the fact that often, there was no family there to witness these triumphs. I would be the idiot standing with prizes under his arms while waiting for the bus alone. But my grandmother was able to witness both my graduations and for this I am extremely grateful.

I had only one meal a day throughout my secondary school years, but on the bright side, it kept me fit as a fiddle. When my grandfather passed away, my grandmother had to babysit so that I could eat and buy books. And most of my earliest books were Penguin Classics. They were cheap and thick and lasted me until I could raise the funds for another book. Thanks, Tolstoy!!


Money isn’t everything, not by a long shot. But it does fund your college education and I’m thankful and grateful for the scholarships I received that allowed me to complete my studies.

But hard though it was, everything was good, very good and through even the darkest moments and especially at the greatest triumphs, God was there always. I give thanks.

Oh, yeah, and I have a wonderful dog! Will the blessings never cease?

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's dog, so don't

Like the LFO song says:

Life is good,
Life is great,
Life is unbelievable
Life is hard,
Life is cruel
Life is so beautiful!

These are some of the great and marvellous blessings which the Lord has bestowed on me though I am His most unworthy servant. For that and for all else, I give thanks. As long as God is with me, I am content. God is great and greatly to be praised. To Him alone be all glory and honour and power, forever and ever.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful post, Andrew.