Orang KL

I'll never give up on Kuala Lumpur

Interview by: Najib Aroff

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Customer Service officer, 40. Originally from Alor Setar, settled in Kuala Lumpur over 10 years.

I came to KL in 2003 after separating from my first husband. I had two kids at that time. My only academic qualification is an SPM grade 2 certificate, I had no friends, I had no relatives in KL. I worked in a foreign exchange company for two weeks. After that, I started taking up any jobs that came my way. I have worked as a ticket tout, factory worker and I sold clothes in Kenanga City. I also worked in a company in Sungai Besi which paid RM900 monthly and later moved on to another job as a customer service officer in a public transport company. I am thankful to God for giving me income through these jobs. This is because before landing the jobs I faced many obstacles such as having to spend some nights in a surau with my kids because I had no roof over my head and being cheated, until I found a stable job. Although the salary is nothing much to shout about, only God knows my gratitude.

AGE-WISE there is a one year gap between my husband and I. I was hoping that he would be able to take care of my children and I. We only knew each other for five months before deciding to marry. I thought since my children and I were alone in KL, having a husband to accompany us would be good. All went well for a while until I got pregnant with my third child. I received a shock when one day the police arrested my husband and I found out that he was a drug addict. Only God knows my feelings then. Attending court sessions became a norm and I constantly lived in fear although I didn't do anything wrong. My children began to feel ashamed of him. We were ashamed to tell our family back in Alor Setar. I bailed him out and persuaded him to return to Alor Setar. I left my job in KL and went back to Alor Setar to start a new life. But he did not change and continued to be controlled by drugs. My family found out the truth.

I was ashamed. I made a mistake by marrying him. I then returned to KL with my husband. I stayed with my sister-in-law. There were 14 people staying in one house. Imagine, including my children and I, settling into an already crammed terrace house. Because I was pregnant, no company would employ me. Life was very difficult at that time. Its too embarrassing to talk about...we stayed over at other people's house, we depended on them for food. When I was seven months pregnant, my husband was caught again by the police for the same problem...drugs. At that point I started thinking, until when do we have to go through this. I am ashamed but I can't run away because I have children and my third child was on the way.

Kuala Lumpur
A woman seen drying clothes in a balcony at Jalan Hang Tuah Kuala Lumpur.AWANI / SHAHIR OMAR

I applied for public housing through the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) but my application was unsuccessful at first. When I was eight months pregnant, DBKL approved my application and I got a house. I was very grateful although when I started living in the house, there was no electricity, no mat...it was empty. I slept on the floor with my kids. I sought the Welfare Department and Baitulmal's help because I was pregnant and had no job. My Indian neighbour helped me a lot at that time. She bought clothes and milk for my kids. When I was in labour, I went to the hospital via Monorail, got off at Chow Kit station, and walked to the hospital with my children. Alhamdulilah, everything went well. I took care of my newborn for three months after which my mother took over the responsibility as I had to work to support my young family. I had no choice but to let my newborn go.

I then found jobs. Selling clothes, being a factory worker. Sometimes I worked shifts at night. My kids felt abandoned by me and I was worried that they will be exposed to social ills like drug problems - part and parcel of life in the projects. I decided to send my children to a single mothers nursing home in Kajang. I was worried they would think that I was 'throwing' them away. But Alhamdulilah, they understood. Every week, I took a bus to visit them. I've asked God, "Why me...one after another?'. But God is fair. He knows I will go through this.

This is a big city, you need to be strong. In times of turmoil, we should not give up. Don't think if we are good to people, it will be returned in kind. KL is filled with people from all walks of life.

THIS is a big city, you need to be strong. In times of turmoil, we should not give up. Don't think if we are good to people, it will be returned in kind. KL is filled with people from all walks of life. When people know you are poor and have problems, they won't come near because they think problems are contagious. Luckily I have my children, otherwise I would not be as strong as this.

Kuala Lumpur
Noor Ain Sidek stands at a road side marketplace in Kuala Lumpur

LIFE should be lived with determination and courage. Don't do a job halfway. Do not run away from problems. Confront all problems with energy and don't give up. InsyaAllah, God will take care of everything.

MY current husband was introduced by my colleague while I was working as a customer service officer. Even though there is a big age gap between us, Alhamdulilah, he's a good man. He knows about my past life and accepts me as I am. This is success. Landing a job that I consider as perfect, having a good husband, letting my children grow up and go to school like other children. I am more confident of my future.

Be yourself in KL. Don't strive to be like others. Always be grateful. Live in moderation in every aspect of your life.

BE yourself in KL. Don't strive to be like others. Always be grateful. Live in moderation in every aspect of your life.

I like to travel even though I could not have imagined going to another country prior to this. Alhamdulilah now I can witness other people's culture and tradition. My husband and I do pasar malam business every Thursday. We saved up, little by little, and we started travelling.

I am not sick of KL. KL helped me learn the meaning of life. Life won't be difficult all the time. If our intention is right, God will help us, but do not stop trying.