The Grass on the Other Side of the Fence : The Old Man

I earn money because I want my kids to get a better life than me. – an old man whose life I wrote about.

That is just an utterance spoken by an old man whose name I chose not to reveal. Well, that was because he really did not seem to want to tell me his name, and I did not bother so much of asking more about it the next days.

The old man looks neither sad nor happy; his expressionless face tells me how hard life he has been facing. His dark black hair looks shiny when the sun of Surabaya City ( a city in eastern part of Java) shines brightly. When I met him, I could see wrinkles all over his face. He patiently serves his customers, who are mostly teenagers in white and gray uniforms. The uniforms worn by senior high school students ( grade 10-12). The teenagers from the schools in front of his so-called working place. Not only are the teenagers his customers, but also many of passers-by who urge to stop to buy some bottles of iced tea, bottled waters, whatever cold drinks he sells to cure their parched lips during blistering heat of the sun during the day. Passers-by who drive the cheapest model of cars to the most expensive ones coming to him, buying even more than one bottle of water. The old man doesn’t even smile when receiving money from them, yet he chooses to be in silence . I think only few would wonder what he has been thinking about.

The last time I stopped by his so-called working place which is only a wheelbarrow with some kind of a red shady umbrella above it, and a small-size of a wooden box next to the wheelbarrow that is enough for two to sit on. The wooden box where he sometimes sits on waiting for his customers. The wooden box that he often is willing to share with his customers who can’t seem to find a place to sit down while sipping iced tea . Soon, I realized the wooden box is also his sleeping mate during the cold nights, humid nights. Early morning, I often see him ready to earn the bacon. He does have a home where his wife and children live. He only comes home once a month.

I choose to save the money I earn rather than spend them for a transport to go home.

I do not know how he saves his money, does he have a bank account? I do not bother to ask. But, one thing that never fails to amaze me up to this moment I am blogging is that this old man manages to send his children to school, and one of them is at a university level with a scholarship for a year or two. My tears trickled down my cheeks when I remember this story. This old man sacrifices his time for a better life of his children. This old man so hates poverty that he does not want this to befall upon his children. This old man is like a hero to me. He might not think he has sacrificed anything, but to me he has; He chooses to stay there sleeping on a cold wooden box with a thin blanket to cover his body from the cold nights, ignoring the fierce mosquitoes that bite waiting to suck his blood.

Hmm, it got me to thinking of colors!

When you are in love, life is pink, or even better red! so red- the color of passion.

or when you are angry your life turns to be red- the color of anger.

When you are in grief life is black (to some cultures- this may be different) -the color of gloomy life.

When you are sad, you are told to be in blue – the color of depression.

When you are jealous, greedy on something, for sure you are told to be in green-the color of greediness.

I do not know which colors embrace your life the most, Pak Tua, but whatever colors cover your life. This is what I want to say :

I salute him, and wish him all the happiness in the world, Pak Tua (old man).

Note to self:

I own the “full” rights to color my own life. I can pick any colors I want, mix them, and create stories of my life. But sometimes the colors I want are gone for getaway somewhere, and I just can’t have them, bumer!! hehehe. I hope life is like what I expect, but let’s face it- I don’t always get what I want (well, let’s just hope they are postponed for a moment or two, hehe). Some colors are hard to get. Some people need years to eventually get the colors they want to enrich their stories.

Excuse me, I think I just satisfied my desire for sort of philosophical writing- perhaps it was intended to you , or just my inner monologue telling me to be optimistic just like the old man is, on the other side of the fence.


Done! bis bald

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