by Jhayra Torcino
When I was six years old, I already knew that I had a poor life. My mother and father were always fighting because of poverty and our difficult life. Sometimes we were out of budget for food.
In those days, my mother and father didn’t have regular work because they never finished their studies. My mother once was a life insurance underwriter. The work of my father before was a soldier, but he didn’t last in that work because he was scared to die. So he decided to quit his work, and all the responsibilities were given to my mother.
After that, my mother was always busy with her work, and she often had to travel, so that we could have our daily needs. Then the one who stayed at home was my father. He was the one who cooked for us and cleaned our house.
At the age of eight years old, I started to help my father with the household chores. I was assigned to get the water everyday. Whenever mother left us, she put a letter on the table with the rules of the house. Each one of us had our role in the house. My sister was assigned to wash the dishes daily. My brother was the one who washed our clothes.
As I said before, I was assigned to get water to drink. At that time, we didn’t yet have a pipe from the water district. My daily routine was to get in line so I could get water to drink, and I had to wake up early in the morning so that I could be the first to get water and avoid the long lines later in the day. Then after getting water, I would go to the forest to get firewood for cooking. We didn’t have a stove because my parents couldn’t afford one - that is too much expensive!
That’s what I did daily. Then after I finished my household chores, I would take a bath and get ready to go to school.
When I was in elementary school, I could walk to school. My father didn’t give me money very often for school, as he was so strict. I was so sad because, even when I had a project for school, he didn’t want to give to me. Sometimes he gave, but sometimes he didn’t. Sometimes when it was time for our recess, I could only sit in my chair and be jealous of my classmates, because I could see them eating together in the classroom. Then after school, I walked home.
After I graduated from elementary school, my father and mother broke up because my mother was tired of always needing to find money. I was sad at that time. I didn’t know what to say when I listened to my mother, because I was so shocked and surprised.
My father was so sad and brokenhearted. After that, he was always drunk and crying. He couldn’t accept that my mother left him.
When I was in high school, he decided to apply for a job as a construction worker. Yes my father did get work, but sad to say, all his salary was gone because every time he got his salary, he spent it on alcohol. Then, when he was home, he would be mad at me: “Why don’t we have food in the house?” I told my father that he didn’t give money for food! Then he would slap my face or punch me in the stomach because he was hungry. He did that to me every day as he was always drunk.
I often went to school without eating breakfast. Sometimes I asked myself, why do I have this kind of life?
The only work I could get in those days was part-time work as an assistant in a beauty salon, so that I could earn a little money. My father really didn’t give even a centavo.
My father didn’t like me because of my gender. He would always slap my face and punch my body when he saw me using makeup. I was so sad but all I could do was to cry.
When I was in high school, my father was at his worst, being drunk everyday and thinking about mother. I am so sad to think about it.
When I graduated high school, I couldn’t afford to go to college, so I decided to work. I was able to work in a beauty salon as a beautician, and I began to have my own income.
It was around this time that my father decided to work abroad so he could earn enough to support our needs (my youngest sister started back to school). He went to Saudi Arabia for work as an electrician, and I was so happy for him. But I didn’t ask any help from him. My father said that I was old enough to support myself.
The biggest thing I’ve learned from my life is to pursue your dreams, no matter how hard life is. Live life for what it is, and bring the best out of it. Life is a great gift from God, and we should treasure our lives and find the purpose to live. Focus on today, and your past becomes your memory - still in your heart, it will become your motivation to seek your goals.