< 1. >
Natalie emptied her yellow ochre purse, now worn out by overuse, on the old wooden 4-legged stool, the only real furniture in the entire household. She shook it and out came a few coins, the worthiest and most treasured possessions of her. Almost instantly, she took the coins from the stool and held them in her hands. After thoroughly examining the contents of the purse for a while, she let out her breath in a long, ragged sigh. No, it was not enough for catering to her needs.
Well, that's better than nothing, she told herself as a mean to console herself.
Little Bo cried out, "Ibu, I want choco."
"I will go to the shop in the afternoon and buy a yummy treat for you, I promise," Natalie replied impassively, focusing on the coins in her palm and not taking her eyes off them.
Immediately, his face contorted in rage. Bo glared at her and hollered furiously, "I WANT IT NOW!!!" His resonating, high-pitched voice shrilled through the house. He was extremely stubborn and adamant. And needless to say, when he demanded something, that 'something' must be provided to him and that too as soon as possible. Otherwise, he would not hesitate to throw a tantrum. He was as persistent as a mosquito can be.
Suddenly losing her calm, Natalie screeched in anger, "Oh God! Bo! Stop that! Enough is enough!"
Bo burst out crying. No child likes to be yelled at.
Wearing a pitiful expression, she soothed him, "Hush my little baby! Hush! Stop crying. I am going out now". Saying that, she gave him a tight hug and went outside to buy his all-time favourite chocolate, Teuscher.
Teuscher was fairly expensive and meant for the wealthy blokes' children. Natalie's financial capacity was not that much as to buy this chocolate. But, considering Bo's desire for this chocolate, she had, after storing money for a long time, bought a tiny piece of Teuscher's chocolate on his most recent birthday - which was actually the sixth one. Since then, it had become his favourite and he kept demanding it.
Natalie, a middle-aged woman in her late-thirties. She was a strikingly pretty Singaporean lady with two children, Bo and Dawan. Twelve-year-old Dawan went to school, while Bo was too young.
She had been leading a happy life with her family. But that has become past.
Her husband had been the breadwinner in the family till his very recent death. This marked the beginning of her struggles and sufferings. Ever since then, Natalie has lived as a widow and destitute. Yes, she was a widow. Her happy days were ruined with her husband gone. The event left her bereft. Her grief caused her to look a decade older than she actually was.
The responsibility of financially managing her family of two growing children fell naturally upon her.
At first, forced to collect money from whatever source possible, she was inclined to sell all the furnitures inside the house (excluding the small stool and some shabby mattresses), along with her ornaments and precious memories. However, for how long can a family with two hungry mouths to feed live on that little amount of money?
Therefore, to sustain the family, she joined the factory as a worker, finding no other alternative. In exchange for her services, she was given wages. Nevertheless, it was merely a pea-sized amount which could hardly be called income.
Overall, she was facing a great difficulty in paying the school fees of Dawan and in bringing up Bo, who often craved for food or toys of a price far beyond what she could afford to give.
Ibu - mother
< 2. >
"Oh! How simply terrible can life be!"
For her, life was a hell. However, she could not run away from life; she could not run away from the problems life brought. She had to face it. She had made a vow to herself that she would not run away from life. She would face it. She was ready to face life with utter boldness.
Yes! Natalie was a very brave and determined woman.
Even with all such distress, sorrows, and turmoils in life, she managed to live her life with a big smile. She accepted that it was merely her fate, her misfortune. Natalie did not lose hope. She knew that one day or another she would learn to feel truly happy. One day she would regain all what she had once lost.
Life is not hopeless.
< 3. >
Natalie was walking down the streets. Desperate and hopeless, she set out to buy something at least, if not chocolate.
She was hopeless. What would she do with not even a single dollar? And, what would she answer to Bo, if she did not buy the chocolate?
With so many thoughts in her mind, she went to the nearest store, and asked the fat grumpy shop assistant –
"Tumpang Lalu! Do you have any Teuscher?"
In response, the shop assistant let out a most disgusted and unladylike grunt and grumbled,
"No! We don't sell those pesky chocolates! Huh! Who will buy chocolate at such a high price! Menjijikkan!"
then, she paused a little bit to make a very careful observation of Natalie from head to toe with her small ugly eyes, and again began –
"You don't look much wealthy. Why, on earth, are you to buy Teuscher?"
< 4. >
Natalie feeling a little insulted replied, "Actually, my son likes Teuscher."
"Oh! I see. Children. They are a big pain. Jolly big pain. A great burden." snorted the other lady (shop assistant).
"No! Not at all. Children are lovely. They fill the days with happiness. Yeah, I acknowledge that they are sometimes little mischievous and adamant. However, all the same, I love them. They are my life. Life won't be worth living if they weren't around." she opined, giving back an opposed view of hers.
"Well, is that what you think?" snapped the shop assistant.
"Anyways, the name's Yi Ling. I have work to do. Can't waste my precious time with you. Sorry as I could not provide you with your desired item. Have a good day!", Yi Ling - the shopkeeper, that is - spoke in a formal way, but it seemed quite obvious that she was displeased with Natalie's company.
As Natalie unhappily began to turn away from the shop, Yi Ling suddenly said -
"In case you want to buy something else, you are welcome to do so."
Natale definitely opted for "No, thanks!", but much to her surprise she found herself instinctively answering -
"Yes, I would like to see some of the other chocolates you've got."
"Good then. Here's a couple of cheap and decent chocolates."
< 5. >
Natalie began to explore the store for a very yummy, creamy, and mouth drooling chocolate but cheap, that Bo would love. She failed in her quest, however. She could not find any chocolate that met her requirements. Nonetheless, she embarked on her mission once again. If she could not find her desired chocolate in one store, why not look elsewhere?
Well, she did visit many shops around the avenue. But, she lacked one thing: money. A thing which people are so desperately greedy for. Money means the world to the majority of people. Nowadays, nearly all hold the view (it is the bitterest truth even) – you have money, you have everything. This is the foremost reason for such an intense attraction towards it that men possess.
< 6. >
"Urggh!" Natalie groaned in frustration. What was she going to do? At the moment, the only reasonable solution seemed to give up and head back home only to get another screaming from Bo.
But, she was not the one to give up. She should not give up. She mustn't give up.
"Damn it! I am thinking of giving up! No, I can't give up. It's not me."
The memories of her late father flashed in her mind, as she remembered his words full of wisdom. She silently murmured with her eyes closed "You just have to work hard and stay dedicated that's all, and success will be yours."– one of the many advices given to her by her father.
On second thoughts, she went back home at night and was extremely relieved to see Bo asleep. She breathed a sigh of relief. At least, she wouldn't have to suffer his tantrum!
Upon arriving, she saw Dawan gently stroking the raven black hairs belonging to his tiny little brother who was soundly sleeping with a very serene expression, and singing a melodious lullaby.
< 7. >
"Mum, do you know how much Bo has cried? Where have you been so long?" Dawan enquired.
"Okay, I see. It must have been a tough job for you. I was outside to buy a chocolate for Bo. But..."
even before Natalie could finish her sentence, Dawan burst out –
"I understand. You didn't have the money. But, can't you choose between options? Staying here at home, looking after Bo, was more important. If he is throwing a tantrum, you should try to make him understand. You are pampering him. He's getting spoiled. You try to give him every single stuff he wants. Life is not so easy. He should realise that man doesn't get everything he wants. He has to work hard to earn a thing. It's really necessary to bring up Bo to become sensible and teach him some good manners."
"But he's still a kid." argued Natalie.
"Yup, he is a kid. And if you keep considering him as a kid, he will never improve."
< 8. >
Dawan definitely had a point.
Natalie couldn't help but feel hopeless. She was unsure of what do. She was fully aware of the fact that Bo was getting spoiled. He was simply a selfish little boy yet utterly charming and attractive.
She just couldn't say 'no' to his cute pleas.
She loved him dearly.
But Dawan had shown her how this love was proving destructive to him.
He was getting spoiled.
He had been spoonfed too much.
It took a while for Natalie to come upon this realization.
< 9. >
Dawan could not get the opportunity to receive proper education. She was going to an inferior quality school. That didn't mean any good for her. She strived for higher education. She aspired to do something great for the country and make her family proud of her. But, conditions were such that she couldn't dream big. She feared that having such great ambitions could hurt mentally when she knew there is but a very little chance of them getting fulfilled.
On the other hand, Bo was becoming thinner as a result of not getting enough nutrition. It applied to Dawan, as well. She was getting paler and paler each day.
They all slept upon thin, brown mattresses on the hard floor. In the summertime, this wasn't too bad, but in the winter, freezing cold draughts blew across the floor all night long, and it was awful. They often went cold and hungry at that time of the year. The only meals they could afford were- bread and margarine for breakfast, boiled potato and cabbage for lunch, and vegetable soup for supper. What they had was barely enough for them to survive.
This is what is known as poverty.
This is the vicious cycle of poverty.
< 10. >
They had never gone through such conditions till now. They were a reputed middle-class family. They were so happy. Natalie flooded with emotions whenever she happened to recall her past memories. So happy memories. So precious they were.
And then suddenly everything changed. Her beloved husband died. She could hardly stop crying that day. That day she lost her control. That day- she cried like a mad woman. He had a stroke. He died of a stroke. He died due to excessive stress and worrying. He loved his family a lot.
Family needs were rising, and he became tensed. Each and every day he was growing older and older. He was worried that one day he will get old and might not be able to provide for his family, who would suffer badly if such an event did take place.
The possibility of such an occurrence haunted him.
< 11. >
Natalie had to stop doting on Bo. She had to become more rational. She had to concentrate on more important things. She had to find a way to put an end to this situation. She had to put an end to poverty.
Life is not hopeless.
One can alter his destiny.
One can achieve success through hard work and dedication.
Natalie must try with all her might to overcome the situation.
Author Notes: Hope you like it! It's not the end of it all, there are more chapters to come. I will update the story very soon. Check out -> https://www.wattpad.com/myworks/73685569-life-is-not-hopeless