I was most humbled by the invitation received from a friend, Norasikin to visit this single mother of 3 who is hard-core poor and only lives with her cats. Puan N is an active member of a local Muslim single mother NGO.
All four of us ladies got together in a car and drove to Puchong. Now, when mentioned about Puchong, I get this edgy feeling and will try to stay away. This is simply because Puchong is big. You tend to get lost like a time wrap in that area. Every road looks the same. And signage is a big problem.
But the thought of visiting this poor lady make me pushed all that fear factors. Besides, I told Norasikin, I will hitch a ride from her.
We arrived at this block of shops. This lady lives in one of the apartment units above these shop houses. The area doesn’t really look dandy. The staircase didn’t look dandy. The corridors were long, dirty, dark and so lonely. No lift so we had to climb the staircase to the 3rd floor. I was heaving this heavy bag containing cat food.
I was told that this single mother – lets call her Puan N- is usually reluctant to meet anyone. A bit of a recluse, she tends to keep to herself. The only reason why we managed to arrange to go to her house was because one of the ladies told her that she has someone who wanted her to sew some clothes. You see, Puan N is well known for her sewing skills but she only deals with several boutiques somewhere in the city. She takes in orders to sew baju kurung or kebaya and charges some token some for her efforts.
When we arrived in front of her door, the sound of Hindustan movie was blaring from the inside of the apartment unit. It took us a few minutes before she came out to open the door.
When we stepped into the unit, I was taken aback. I never thought that there is such poverty still exists in the city. Being poor is bad enough but to be poor in the city is…. indescribable. You have absolutely no space to call your own but being confined in the unit you are in.
There are 2 rooms to the unit where she lives. The kitchen and bathroom were flooded with water that back-flowed from the faulty water outlet. The unit owner never pay her a visit, she said, even though she complaint about the issue. The two rooms were piled with old clothes and newspapers. Her living area was littered with more old clothes and a pull over bag. Three of her cats scampered away among the pile high newspapers. Her bed is this pulled sofa that had seen better days.
She herself did not eat anything since morning and so were her cats.
She welcomed us by spreading a mat on the floor and we sat. I had to make sure that the windows were opened as the smell from the back water coupled with old newspapers and some rubbish were quite overwhelming to my senses. Plus, I think her cats had created their poo box among the old newspapers too as I didn’t see any poo box anywhere.
We stayed for about three hours. Misha, the officer from the Jabatan Pembangunan Wanita came too with a promise to come back and get some forms filled and to get Puan N some further assistance to relocate to a better place. A job as a sewing instructor for a community initiatives might be in the pipeline as well.
This lady has a lot of unsaid sadness about her. We managed to probe some background info about her. She was from the north and had been in the city for a long time. She was working down south as well but decided that Kuala Lumpur would offer her a better living.
I took a look at her cats. They were sick and one was with quite a bad mange. I offered to take care of the neutering and medical when she moves to a new place.
We went back that day with plenty of thoughts playing in our heads. It was a real eye opener, at least for me.
One of the cats.
Us ladies posing after the visit.