Though Jack said that he would speak to Mother, I was not about to take chances. Though very poor, Mother was a proud woman. She would rather have us starve than borrow or worse, accept gifts, especially gifts of meals. Mother was in the communal kitchen – the large kitchen area with several wood-fired stone stoves that all the tenants in the house shared. I sneaked to the backyard with my mug of coffee (you know, the lousy coffee) and the coconut-filled bun.

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*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2011 ***


  1. Yes, poverty is how we compare ourselves to our neighbors. Do we have what they all have? It is a subtle way of getting a distorted view of reality. And it can be even worse if there are family pressures involved. My parents were poorer than any of the siblings’ families and that can result in some insecurity and bad feeling unless the family is a strong and supporting one.

  2. There is pain in every life, and some scars hurt forever. Some pain seems bad at the time, like losing the bun to the dog, but afterward seems not so bad. I am very glad you did not hit your dog.
    My parents related to me a story that I don’t remember. When I was very young and we still lived on the farm, we had very little money. But in America it is a tradition that everyone feast on Christmas Day, and if you cannot afford a feast you feel like the worst of failures. My parents had been saving every cent they could for that year to have a Christmas feast like other people, and they bought all the special things they wanted and as an extra festivity they went to a movie together – apparently I was old enough to go with them and not risk disturbing anything. While we were in the movie, someone broke into our car (even people who could barely afford to eat would own a car!?) and stole everything they bought. I don’t remember it, but I am sure they were very upset. I hope now that it was all stolen by someone who was poorer than we were and not by someone who was just mean or greedy. That was nearly sixty years ago.

    1. That is a sad story indeed and thank you for sharing. Owning a car > poverty is relative, I reckon.

      Even the bottom 5% in present day Singapore, all have a roof over their heads, own a refrigerator, TV, telephone, etc > but they are poor. Back in the 1960s, these people would be considered middle-class.

      Celebratory meals all have their genesis in poverty, I reckon. Because people did not get to eat/drink well, we had occassions and made special effort. That is also why, special feasting is fast losing their importance now > because most can afford a restaurant treat all year round…if we could only find the time to get together, or so it seems.

      I appreciate your visits and sharing of personal snippets.

      Peace, Eric

  3. I can see what drove your country to success – the raw pride and self sufficiency. In my country people, pull scams to get onto the dole line.

  4. I thought it was nice of Leigh to share his “expensive” bun with Streak even if it was not by his own intention – something about the link between dog and its owner. Good little Leigh.

  5. Oh, No! From mere disappointment – we see the generosity of Leigh and his hidden pain, dark secrets. The series is more serious than it seems on the surface. Eric is a master in weaving several layers/themes.

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