Ah Kau is a guy who sells newspaper every morning next to your apartment, and you are one of his daily regular customers. Before dashing off to your office every day, you will go to his small stall and buy The Star newspaper. Wearing a newly pressed shirt, a tie, and a pair of Clarks shoes, you grab a copy of The Star, pay RM1.20 and exchange smiles with Ah Kau and greet him.“Apa macam Ah Kau ini hari? Bisnes ada baik?”
The normal greeting like you do every day. Yes, Ah Kau doesn’t speak English. He speaks Chinese and knows a little bit of Malay. He speaks a little bit of Malay but with a very thick Chinese accent.“Biasa saja… ini bisnes aa, kadang kadang baik, kadang kadang tada untung oo….”
“Biasalah hidup. Kadang kadang ok, kadang kadang tak ok.” You give Ah Kau a pat on the back. You smile and walk away and get into your car. You start the engine and start driving to your office, a multinational semiconductor company located in a premier industrial area. You are a young and promising finance executive and the future looks bright for you.
A year goes by and things look pretty good on the track. You decide to marry your fiance and have your new wife moves in to your place. Both of you feel happy because you can save more money as the two of you will be sharing one apartment and can live as one.
Ah Kau is still selling the newspaper as usual. Sometimes in the morning your wife gets the newspaper from Ah Kau instead of you.
A year later a child comes along, and you decide to buy and move into a newly developed condominium just across the street. This place is bigger so it will be perfectly fit for the 3 of you. But since both of you are working, you decide to get a maid to take of the household and your kid.
By this time you’re offered a managerial job from another multinational; the remuneration package offered is much better in terms of the pay, contractual bonus, medical benefits, ESOS scheme and a few others which make it impossible for you to decline. So you join this company happily.
You get busier. You realize that you spend less and less time with your family. When your department is busy preparing for the next audit, your working hours become more and more ridiculous. Any internal issues arising in the office means you’ll be stuck in the office until 8 or 9 pm. Sometimes, during the weekend, you’ll spend your time in your office, buried under paper works and documentations, instead of taking your family for a walk in the park.
One morning, on your way to get your copy of The Star, you realized that Ah Kau is no longer in his stall. So is his rundown motorbike. Instead, there’s another young Chinese guy at the stall. “What happen to Ah Kau?” You ask out of curiosity. “Oh, he is still around, but he is no longer taking care of this stall as he has opened up a new grocery shop down town. I am running this newspaper stall for him.”
“Ok,” you smile. You feel happy for Ah Kau. “At last he manages to improve his life.”
Your normal life continues. A year passes by and at the end of your company’s fiscal year, you’re rewarded for your effort with a 5 months bonus pay-out by your employer. Wow. Now that is a very handsome reward. You feel your effort has been equally compensated. To celebrate, you decide that it’s time to trade your 5-year old Proton Wira to the latest Honda Civic model. It won’t be much a problem to you to get a loan scheme from the bank as your pay slip will provide you an easy gateway to access financial help from any bank.
One day, the hardest reality of life hits you right on the face. The company that you’ve been working for years announces that they’re moving their business to China for cost and competitive reason and has asked you to find a job somewhere else. “What?” You scream out cold. “I got a lot of liabilities on the card! Who’s gonna pay for my mortgage? My car? My credit card? My gym fees? My bills?” You yell like there’s no way out.This is the first time you feel let down by your own employer. All your hard work seem to go up on the smoke. You feel sick. You now hate your company. On the way home, you stopped by at a mamak restaurant for a cup of teh tarik while pondering about your future. Alone.
Suddenly you saw this new, shiny BMW 3 series being parked nearby. And to your surprise, it was Ah Kau. Yes, Ah Kau who used to sell newspapers nearby your old apartment. “What happened to old Ah Kau?” You whisper to your self.
Ah Kau still recognizes you, and sit next to you, and shared his story. To make it short, Ah Kau had accumulated his money from selling newspapers to open more stalls, one after another. Every new stall is run by his workers so that he focused on opening more and more stalls, which in turn give him more and more money. Over the years, he had accumulated enough cash to open up new grocery store while at the same time buying more assets to grow his wealth. And his current wealth and success is achieved without any loan or financial help from banks and other financial institutions.
There you go. That’s the story. While Ah Kau is set to become financially free, you’re back to where you’re started before. Ground zero .
Before leaving, Ah Kau gives you a familiar quote, “Biasalah hidup. Kadang kadang ok, kadang kadang tak ok.” He gives you a pat on the back and walks away.
In reality, if you’re observant enough, there are a lot of Ah Kaus out there, that you will see every day and every where you go. The names are different, but inside them is every character of Ah Kau. They might be Uncle Dorai, Ah Chong, Pak Abu, Makcik Gemuk, Pak Man nasi lemak or others. They look to be struggling on the surface, but if you look carefully and compare with you life, many of them are living with little or no liabilities. They ride an old ‘kapcai’ bike. They live in an old rundown house. They don’t have credit card to swipe. They wear a 10-year old shirt and short. No new, shiny Toyota Harrier. In short, their living means are far below than yours. But what you don’t realize is that many of them can save more money than yours, and over the years generate enough money to expand their business, or invest in properties. Their asset columns are much thicker than that of yours.Hey, this is life you know ! Enjoy 🙂