My Childhood – A Gift Of Poverty

by Patrick Liew on July 31, 2018

My Childhood – A Gift Of Poverty

When I was growing up, there were nine of us, including my parents living in a small flat.

To make ends meet, my parents would rent out whatever space they could spare.

At one point, we even had somebody renting our living room.

We would have rented out our toilet if we did not have to use it every now and then.

My grandmother and siblings were squeezed into a small room together with me.

I used to joke that the room was so small even the mice were hunchbacks.

If I had a dog, the dog would have to wag its tail vertically.

On one end of the room, my elder brother had a canvass bed and a study table to himself.

My grandma’s bed occupied the other end of the room.

The rest of us would sleep on the floor.

On many nights, I might roll and sleep underneath my grandmother’s bed.

Hence, if you look at my face, you’ll find that it’s a little flat from oversleeping underneath the bed.

As a child, I did not remember having any toys.

Still, I had a lot of fun playing with whatever was around me.

Most of my clothings were hand-me-downs.

When my brother gave me his school uniform, I had to wear another pair of shorts underneath it.

He was – let’s just say, bigger in size than me.

I had to only be mindful that when I coughed, I would not do it too strongly.

My pants might drop.

Our family had barely enough money to spend beyond the basic necessities.

We didn’t even have the luxury of eating fruits on a regular basis.

On special occasions, we might share an orange. It would be carefully sliced into more than six slices so that every one of us could have a share of the fruit.

I would eat the orange slowly, including part of the back of the skin.

I would allow the juice and the pulp to slush around my mouth as I savoured the sweetness of the fruit.

I could still feel the juice uplifting my senses even as it flowed bit by bit down my throat.

If I could, I would have eaten the whole skin too.

The lack of vitamin C has unfortunately left me with a less than healthy-looking skin.

The pock marks on my face until today was the result of a lack of nutrition.

In my younger days; yes, a long time ago, I used to attract girls with my rough and rugged look.

These wise girls could appreciate beauty when they saw it, and I was definitely a star attraction with them.

If you believe I was ever a star, you can believe anything in the world. :0)

Even though I was poor, I did not feel poor because I had good parents.

How can I complain when they didn’t even have a share of the orange.

They sacrificed their own proper diet for their children and my aged grandmother.

Bringing us up was not an easy task but they managed to keep us alive and well until we reached adulthood.

Looking back, although I was poor financially, I was not unhappy.

In fact, it was one of the best things to happen in my life.

I am proud of the fact that I grew up in poverty.

Poverty is one of the best drivers for progress.

Poverty helped me to become more grateful for every blessing in life. It helped me to value what truly matters in life.

I discovered enough goodness in life that gave me a sense of well being.

More importantly, I had a deep sense of faith, hope and optimism for the future.

I have realized that the greatest poverty is a poverty of dreams and actions.

When there is nothing to look forward to, and nothing to live and fight for, life is like a drifting feather carried by the aimless winds of life.

There is nothing more tragic than to live without a sense of significance, meaning and purpose in life.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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