24 July 2012

Forty-Two: Struggles of An Adult

As a kid, I'm sure there came a time when you have wondered what your life will be when you became an adult. You might have also thought that adults are amazing as well as annoying, and that they are selfish and only care about money. Adults can do what you cannot do. They can scold you when you did something wrong and shout at you when you told them off for doing something wrong. You could have thought that there are times when you feel more righteous over them. What do they tell you most of the time? 'You are still young. You know nothing of the world. You still have a long way to go.' Sounds cliche, right? But, admit that you have heard this from a number of adults that you knew.

At one time of your childhood, I believe that you have dreamed of quickly becoming an adult. The reason for this is surely, or most likely, independence and freedom. I'm sure that there was a time when you have thought of running away from home, answering back to your parents, breaking their rules, and skipping school. That is, of course, unless you are that as-good-as-an-angel type of kid. Well, kids are like that most of the time...innocent.

I've thought of these things when I was young. I did things like cry at night so that no one will ever know that I'm crying. I lied about several things, but all of those are partly true since I am not good at lying. I hurt my friends without me knowing it. There are also times when I felt left out and betrayed as well. I became rebellious when there is something I asked from my parents but they never allowed it. I skipped classes, cheated during exams, and slept soundly in front of my teacher. There was even a time when I was called to the disciplinary office because I hang out with the oh-so-naughty boys of my class. I fought with my siblings from time to time, actually most of the time. There was even a time that I physically hurt them really bad. Well, I did all these when I was a kid, and I'm certain that I'm not the only one.

I just thought of these things when my friend told me a lot of stuff about his life. I never thought that a life can be so dramatic just like what you see in movies and television series. Surely, when I was a kid I only thought of quickly growing old just to be able to to do what want. I never thought of the things that might happen along the way. Well, most of us did because we don't know the hardships of growing old and advancing from one phase to another. We don't know that, once we reached a legal age, we will be legally bound to laws not at home but on a national scale. We don't know that wanting to grow old is the same as wanting to get away from freedom.

I actually want to share the story of my friend who made me realize these things. I know that the story would be kind of wretched since I really don't know where to begin. And kids would normally not read this kind of thing but I actually want to dedicate this post to them.

To them, who are young and innocent: Regret will eventually come your way but at least you can say that you did the things you want to and you have been responsible for every action you took and the consequences it brought you.
"Live the life you have imagined." - Henry David Thoreau

   ~  *   *   *  ~

"Money is important of course. That is what makes this world go round and round. But more than money, what I need are true friends."

This statement was made by an adult friend of mine who has lived forty-two years of his life this year, twenty-twelve. I admit that it sounds corny and the same as what I usually hear from my grandparents when I was younger. Something like 'I can't bring money with me when I die'. I have heard quite a number of people speaking as if money is not important but essential to living.

I prove it true when I started living independently. I earn money in exchange for my time and labor and spend it nonchalantly to satisfy myself and live comfortably.  I sometimes think that this lifestyle doesn't make sense. There are even times that I feel like I only work to kill time. When I was a kid, I never thought that being an adult was this boring. I spend money to get some social life and to relieve boredom and stress. In adult world, having fun will always involve spending money. If you're a 10-year old kid and is asking 'Why?', sorry but I cannot answer you. That's just how the adult world works. It's not the same as the carefree living of a kid who can just play outside with friends to have fun. Adult world is far from that.

My friend is a good guy and is like a big brother to everyone. Actually, almost everyone is calling him that, regardless of age. There were times that he was being taken advantaged of but he could care less. 'It was other people's obligation towards him, not him towards the others,' is what he says. At least, if he asked a favor from someone, there is always something to back him up. He was a good guy, but righteous. He knows himself and his stuffs.

He treats money as something that comes and go. He says that it's important but he needs true and real friends more. 'I can earn money easily, but true friends are difficult to find.' He realized this when his friend asked him "Does any one of your friends ever invited you out for a cup of coffee?" The thing is, no one ever did and that no one ever paid for his tab. Every one expects him to pay whenever he's around. I actually feel a bit guilty because I'm one of those friends.

~  *   *   *  ~

"You should be careful in choosing your partner. It's not like it'll be a one or two day ordeal once you're married."

It was another quote-unquote from my friend. He is actually single but had been in a relationship before, and almost got married. Well, almost, but sadly and, I would say, fortunately, that never happened. Why? I may sound mean but it was a good thing that the wedding never happened. It's just that the girl was a bitch (I'm sorry for the word but she just makes me so mad even though I personally don't know her).

A month before the wedding, my friend had to call off the occassion. ONE MONTH. It's only one month to the big day and just imagined that it's already about 99% complete and the wedding had just to be cancelled. What's more? It's a Muslim Wedding, so just imagine how many people he has to call just to ruin his image, give excuses and to say that the wedding will be cancelled.

FYI: It's a given to Muslim Wedding celebrations that there should be about 1000 people invited to the celebration. By people, I mean that there should be about 1000 invitation given to 1000 people. So if the invited person decided to tag a friend along with him, that'll be more than the expected. It was odd to bring a friend who doesn't even know the bride and groom to the celebration. However, my friend's tradition is that the more people attended the wedding, the more blessed their marriage will be. They would even welcome and thank people they don't even know who came to the celebration because of that.

My friend's fiancee is about 7 years younger than him. There was a difference in their age anD he understands that. But isn't it too much if the fiancee got pregnant by her ex-boyfriend a month before the wedding? Yes, that was actually the case.

A month before the wedding, my friend got a call from the Registry of Marriage (ROM, for short, I guess). The person on the line was confirming if my friend was very sure that he will be marrying her fiancee. It rings a bell to my friend, thinking why is he asking me this question? The conversation goes on with my friend finding out that her fiancee is trying to register for a marriage to another guy, her ex-boyfriend. There was a confrontation in the fiancee's place later that day.

So, that's how the wedding was called off. It was actually the best thing that the wedding was cancelled. Being a fiancee to the girl, and living with her family, is like being a financier to her family.

~  *   *   *  ~

"I feel sleepy just from opening a book. I hate to study."

I guess this is a bit late but well, I'm introducing my friend's life more. My friend did not finish his studies. I mean, he went through the basic learning he needed but never proceeded to college. Why? Because he's lazy with studying. He said that  a few minutes after opening his book, he'd feel sleepy. Actually, he would really fall asleep. You could say that my friend is the lazy type but even so he is s good person.

Now, he is saying that he cannot get a a higher paying job because he did not finish his studies. My friend is not complaining about it since it was the consequence of his own action. He knows that. It's just that, he doesn't like his boss who keeps an eye on his movements.

Now, he is convincing his nieces to pay more attention to their studies so they can get a better paying job. He is even convincing me to be a bit more ambitious since I have a good foundation, in skills and education (I'm not bragging here). He would also support her sister with the financial needs of his nieces so they can be more hooked into their studies.

Well, it must be true that when you are not having a certain goal to accomplish in life, then you're just a lost cause. Going with the flow and doing whatever you like is not actually getting you anywhere. It is sometimes good to leave things with luck and fate but if the person involved is doing nothing, he will never advance forward. I'm saying that having a proper education is a good thing. However, because most students are fed up with their examinations and teachers, they tend to have a long term goal of just finishing their studies and get on with real life. Basically, that was not a long term goal. Now, the question is, what will you do in real life after finishing your studies? With lack of experience about the real world, young people tend to have a shallow understanding of the real world. Earning money, supporting their family, having their own family, getting rich...these are the cliche goals that students would have in mind. I think that it was because student life would only revolve around family, friends, having fun and studies. These are real life things as well, but it lacks the application of the world of adulthood. Well, ever since I finished my studies I never needed to use co-sine or to find x and y.

~  *   *   *  ~

"I heard that you don't have a place to live, so I bought a house so that you don't have to stay somewhere else."

Have you ever lived in your own company? Like staying there because you don't have a house? This was actually a secret but my friend told me I can tell his story so that's what I'm doing. Yes, he did lived in his work place a long time ago because he has no place to stay.

A long time ago, my friend had a quarrel with his dad and it's also because of the girl who used to be his fiancee. One of my friend's brother died and to pay respects, his fiancee and her father came to the burial. My friend's stepmother, who he is not in good terms with, started to blabber things like the reason why my friend's brother died is because my friend got engaged with her fiancee. I don't get the point either but I'm thinking that it was like the fiancee is causing distress to my friend's family. The fiancee's father heard that and so he confronted my friend. My friend in turn, asked his relatives to find out if that was true, and with his scary image, they will just have to submit. My friend confronted his stepmother regarding the matter which ended up with him being kicked out of their house by his father.

My friend suddenly became homeless so he stayed in his fiancee's house. The fiancee's family is big and the only person working is the mother. The fiancee's father is jobless and will not try looking for a job. He's acting like a king and he's one of the character I hate in this story, second to the fiancee. In that situation, and with my friend being a freeloader in the house, he will, of course, have to help out. He supported the fiancee's family in their finances, mostly the kids with their education. The king-slash-father even asked my friend to send one of his sons to Indonesia to study there. And, yes, he will have to pay for all the expenses of the son - school fees, rentals, and allowance. My friend is not earning much so I really don't know how he managed to scrape money for that thing. Well, since the father would not give up with the idea, then my friend just obliged with the reason of having a back-up when trouble came up. What's more? The father will have to go to Indonesia three to four times a year care of my oh-so-generous friend. I wonder how thick-skinned the father was.

Then, the time when my friend just got fed up after a few troubles came one after the other. The fiancee's father suddenly said to my friend that he wants to go to Malaysia. My friend asked who will pay for his expenses? The father, with the high and mighty arrogance, of course, said that my friend will have to pay for all of it. An argument arise from then on and my friend end up being kicked out of the house, again.

After that, my friend stayed in a budget hotel for about three months. Then, a good Samaritan came to him - a work colleague. He was a maintenance staff in my friends work place and he learned of the situation of my friend. That very night, he brought his car to the budget hotel my friend was staying and pick up my friend and his belongings. From then on, he started living in his workplace. At least that's better than paying $80 each day for the rent right?

I believe that my friend lived there for about half a year until another good Samaritan came to him. This time, it was a contractor for his company who is looking for a place to occupy his unit. Of course, my friend took the offer. The place was quite far but the deal was good - $200 for the whole unit. The contractor was only looking for someone to occupy his house rather than living it empty. Well, it was a good thing that my friend managed to find a house to live in properly.

The peace did not last long, though. My friend had to move of the house. The contractor's brother started living there and my friend is not getting along well with him. Once again, he is homeless. This time, her sister called her asking him to stay with them. Her sister told him that she bought a house because she learned that my friend has no place to stay. My friend said that her sister once told here that she will not leave her father's house. But now she bought her own house, left her father, and asked my friend to live with them. What a nice sister! My friend told me tat he actually cried upon hearing her sister's reasons.  Until today, my friend is living with her sister and supporting her family.

~  *   *   *  ~

"I learned my lesson."

I believe that people who have proper signatures and is of legal age knew not to sign any paper without reading the contents. My friend seems to have forgotten about this though.

There was time when my friend is still living with the fiancee's family. My friend had to be away from the house for a time being because of National Service. Then, the fiancee asked my friend to have a phone line connected to the house so he can call them. It was for him to call them if anything comes up. So he signed up for a telephone line to be connected to the house.

One day, he returned home without giving a notice. He found out that her fiancee was not in the house and was out partying. My friend waited for the fiancee who came home a few hours after midnight. After all the unsecured alibis and excuses the fiancee gave, she still told him the truth, out of fear from my friend. And, sure, the fiancee got a good scolding, and a little beating, I guess.

A few days after that, the telephone bill came, and it was given to him with the envelope open. My friend, even I, was shocked with the cost of the bill. It was a freaking $5000 for not even a month. He asked the family as to why the phone bill reached that high. The excuses given to him were: they have to call their son in Indonesia, the neighbor would like to make phone calls to Malaysia, and etc. I am also wondering how the hell it reached that high of an amount. Maybe, they were almost 24 hours talking on the phone? So, my friend returned the envelope to them saying that they should pay for it. My friend never used the phone in the first place, so there is no reason for him to pay for that. What he was given for a reason? The bill was under your name so you have to pay for that. And, yes. They have a point and even I couldn't fight back with that kind of respond. My friend was taken aback as well. He knew that he signed for the telephone line. He knew that the bill would be under his name. His mistake is that he never made clear with the family as to who will have to pay for that.

In the end, he paid for half of the bill and had the line cut off. Until today, he never paid for half of the bill and was blacklisted by the telephone company. He said that he learned his lesson from that. So now, he is very tactful with various things.

~  *   *   *  ~

The plot in this story are based on real life but I'm sure that there are people out there who have experiences worse than my friend. Every person has their own hardship, and even I have my own troubles. Sometimes, we will think that our life is just so worst and death might be better instead. At that point in time, someone will come to save us. It could be someone with a life so better that that person is affecting us with his positive outlooks in life. It could also be someone who has a life much more bitter than the one we are living but still manage to go on with his life without blaming someone for his misfortunes. There were different kinds of people with different kinds of experiences and stories to tell. They are always out there waiting for us to meet them.

When we were kids, it was etched in our mind the stories of princes and princesses, of a world with magics and dreams, and of a life full of adventures and fun. Actually, the stories could be somewhat similar to the real world. In the stories, there were witches, big bad wolves, and other villains, the princesses will have to go through hardships and pains, and they will shed tears because of misfortunes. We remember that as well but not as much as the fun things. We, also, always forget that there were always fairy godmothers, or genies, who will help the princesses or princes go through their trials. We always cower in darkness without even thinking that there is a light of somewhere that will save us from all the misery. Why do we always not remember that life is not always good? Like a wheel, our life is turning up and down; sometimes we have good life, sometimes we have misfortunes. Personally, I believe that we will never encounter something that we cannot overcome.

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