Hugi Magazine 32: Say It With Flowers

hugi 32 header graphic

The ship is burning! (By Fable Fox)

I don't know why, but every time my brain goes into a deep reminiscence, I feel like writing an article for HUGI. ;-P

As I'm writing this article, the date is 28 Dec 2005. 2006 is just around the corner. This is a good time to create a new year's resolution. What is my new year's resolution? I want to become a millionaire - and before I hit 30, plus I want to be a billionaire (within 3 year, to be exact).

I read an article in Personal Money (a Malaysian mag on money) recently (I read in at a book store as I'm too poor to buy it). In it, there was a funny article, written by a millionaire commercial pilot called Azizi Ali, who has quite a knowledge about the topic. It is all about the reason given by non-millionaires, on why they're not millionaires.

In simple words, why they aren't rich. It's the usual 'money is the root of all evil' thing, amongst others. However, to sum it up, they are not rich, not because they can't be rich - it's because they don't want to be rich. I'm a forgetful person (as you might know if you've read my article "Idiot Savant" under the name of Maniac Wolf - Hugi 22), but some of it sounds like this: (The comments in bracket have been added by me)

"If I'm rich, I'm gonna get robbed and might die in the process" (This has some truth, there are some robber here, like anywhere else - they might kill you for just $10. Read the paper)

"My siblings will fight each other when I depart" (Now this is really true. Mainly because the parent are too lazy to make up a will. When they do, the children say that the parents are biased. The reason why they can't divide equally is because, greed make them unable to compute, or think clearly)

"Money can't buy happiness" (More on this later)

But they will never say...

"I don't know how to be a millionaire..." "There's no way I can be a millionaire"

In other words, IF they want to be a millionaire, they can do it in a short time, it's just that they're enjoying scratching their heads thinking, where they will go to get the next lunch.

Ironic, I know.

After a long list, then the author, Azizi Ali, adds his punchline. Saying that this one was his personal favourite:

"I don't know what is wrong with all these people nowdays, all they think is money, money, money..."

It was all ironic, idiosyncracy and paradox combined. People who against being rich will have to agree on this, like any other of the reasons given in the list. By agreeing to this, they agree that money is what they've been thinking about all the time.

Like when your stomach goes hungry.

Anyway, here comes the meat in the sandwich, but I don't want to wash dirty laundry in the public and to ruffle a lot of feathers (some are close friends, and some are blood related). So the story is turned into a fantasy setting.

The End

All my life I have travelled in a ship. I go wherever it went. The ship gives me shelter, food, protection. But now the ship is burning. Anything could have started the fire. Or it could just be a freak accident. Or an act of god - a lighting strike to the mast, perhaps. But the ship is burning, and she's going down.

I'm in deep trouble. Pun intended, as the sea is pretty deep. I realize that at the time when I need the most help, the ship can no longer give me any help. I'm on my own. But everybody else has gone.

But could it be a blessing in disguise? That's because it's a slave ship. I'm just a mere slave. As I swim, I realize that if I failed, then I'd be dead. But if I succeed, I'll be on to my path of freedom. To a brave new world.

It's a success. As I lay down on the beach, gasping for breath - I couldn't help but think. Why didn't I jump sooner? Why did I wait until the ship is burning? Knowing that my age is at 26, I came to realize that I should have jumped a lot sooner, much much sooner.

Was it because of the edible thing I called food? The floor that I called a bed? The plank that I called a shelter? I guess I'm not alone here. There are a lot of people that are staying in a hole. Yes, it's a hole. But a hole that they know. And sometimes, like a slave, they try to dig deeper, deeper, and deeper. In the end, they are still digging their own graves. Sometimes, they actually realise that they are doing it, but it's still the only grave they know.

As I lie on the beach, I realize that the world is a lot bigger than what the ship was. The stars are beautiful in the sky. Spending most of my life in the lower deck of the ship has made me realize all the great things that I never thought existed before. I also realize, food will no longer be handed to me, and I have nowhere to sleep, or take shelter. This beach where I lie on, it could be a Hawaiian beach, or a even a stranded island, or the beach from Lost. It's not going to be a walk in the park. Pun intended, because it's a beach after all.

The main reason why I'm writing this article is that never in my life I've had worry so much about money. I worry so much that I can't get anything else done. When Italy (or was it France?) suffered from an economic collapse, I saw in a magazine, a picture of a woman crying in the street, holding her baby. The caption was not related to her. I think she just lost her job, all of her money, and probably a place to stay too. Too bad I can't cry. Living like a slave, crying is the last thing on my mind. It's always about surviving and getting the job done - and take any salary I can get to send back home.

I have been skipping lunch for a few weeks now. I tried to stretch all of the money I have. Not to mention before all of this, the food that I had for lunch was rather cheap. USD 0.26 cent to be exact for a couple of month. But then I was transferred. Then it just cost USD 0.53 cents. I tried to save up, but in a situation like this, you can forget saving if you can't even buy the necessities.

As I'm writing this, I only have enough money to buy tomorrow's breakfast. If I have to, I might have to sell the 5-year-old P3 500 MHz PC I'm writing this on. I could use the money to buy food, but by then I would be homeless as I can't even pay for the rent of the room which I'm in right now. I might have to sell my USD 53.00 MP3 player that I have. But maybe not. Music has been my only friend for years. Yes, when you're poor, nobody wants to be your friend. So I guess I'd prefer to die with the player in my hands and the earphone on. No matter how poor I am, nobody is going to take my only friend away from me.

Suddenly, the saying "money can't buy you happiness" lingers in my mind. When was the last time I saw a poor person happy? Oh wait, there isn't any. Just like the woman who was crying whilst holding her baby - there's no way you can be happy if you're poor. In other word, "Money can't buy you happiness - But without money, you can forget about being happy".

Suddenly, I think that's if I had all of the bullets in the world, so I can shoot all of those who talk about hating money.

Does having a lot of money kill you? But if you have no money then you're dead. So?

Will your children fight for your property? Do you think that if you're poor that they won't fight? I think if you're poor, they most likely will be poor as well - therefore they could be worse of - fighting for anything they have, it is survival. At least if you're rich, they fight for wants, not needs.

Last but not least, all the talk about the rich is, is that do they only think about money - at least they are "thinking" about money, as in how to earn it and how to spend it. The poor "worry" about money, all the time, thinking when will it come, and are miserable nonetheless.

What's worse is that now and then, there will always be a poor parent with a sick child in the newspaper, asking for donations so that they can save their child. What is sad is that in certain cases, there are deaths as in that the donations didn't accumulate fast enough. One day too late for instance. Yes, the parties involved sure know how to hide their traces. We can't do this because of that, that because of this, but it always boils down to money.

Recently, there was a case about a guy who was robbed and stabbed. The nearest hospital from where the incident took place was a private hospital. It was said that the hospital delayed the treatment because he had no money (it would have cost USD 1316) or a credit card with him at that time (he was robbed. Get it?). He later died. It raised a controversy. People found out that this was the second case. Later the hospital said that they had given him the help that he need, but he was in such a bad condition. People close to him kept on saying that the hospital didn't provide help. For that reason I don't want to talk about this, I want to talk about the first case. I don't know how it happen, but it is valid. The question is...

If you have no money, you (or one of your family members) might die. Forget about education. We're talking about life and death here.

So, money is a bad master but also a great servant. Money is a tool too an end. Like buying the medicine for your sick child that they really need. Why hate money?


I got a phone call from a book publisher that I work freelance for (The opportunity is there when I jumped the ship. So I took it. I have to stretch the little money I have to make things happen). He told me that I can pick up the advance check today. Phew. It was 2 days late. But it was my fault, as I was suppose to hand in the manuscript by the end of the year. He already closed the account for the year. But we talked and he managed to help me out. So I used the money that was supposed to buy me breakfast to buy bus ticket to pick the check. Wow - RM 1000 (USD 263). While it is not much for some people, it's A LOT for me. Hey, I used to work for less than that, much much less. Not to mention that it's only an advance. It was for a lump sum job, writing a beginners visual book. I am getting something like RM 2000 per month (USD 526). That's cool. To have any job nowadays is cool. To be paid RM 2000 per month is much cooler.

But all is not well yet. I received an AC Payee only Cheque. I have two option - go to any branch of that bank and then I have to wait for 5 working days - or go to the branch that issued the check and get it cashed, instantly, or so I thought. This is my first time of getting any money via cheque, before it's always been cash or a electronically transferred into my bank account. But, I only had enough money for a return trip to my rented room.

So I took a bus home, and talked to a close friend (from my car washing days) and managed to borrow RM 20 (USD 5.2). Enough to go to that particular banks' branch, and also to buy some food. As I haven't yet had breakfast - or lunch. And it's already 1.30PM.

At the bank branch I was told that I would have to put the cheque into an envelope. The to use the quick deposit cheque box. I can only withdrawl the money tomorrow. That means that I have to wait for another day for the money. The reason (I think) is that the cheque's value is lower than RM 5000, so it's a waste for the bank to do it on the same day. It is put into the deposit box, processed at night, then you can have the money tomorrow. I guess this is one of the few things we Malaysians have to put up with. Not too long ago, it was revealed that if your money in your account is less than RM5000, any money withdrawn via the ATM will cost you a certain amount - and it's not small. It seems that the banks charge you more if you're poor compared to if you're rich (Ed: It is like that in .AU as well). I know that some people might say that the cost to process these transactions, can be set off by the rich people's high dividends (and the bank profits from their money), which is why the rich aren't charged any fees. Seriously, does it have to be this way? You're using the ATM. Let's not talk about how much you will be charged if you use the counter for any transaction that is less than RM 5000. Nowadays, things are a lot more expensive when you're poor.

I know, it's ironic. Not long ago it was found out (because the people doing this won't tell you it firsthand) that if you're rich (if your internet cookies show that you're capable of buying expensive items - and also if you already bought a lot) items will cost you more. People who don't have the money, rarely buy expensive item, and tended to only window shop, the price were lower. Guess what, that scheme it got cancelled. The Americans are lucky, here we have to live with whatever is thrown at us.

Well, these are the days where billionaire get diamonds worth millions of dollars for free. Famous people get whatever they want for free. The poor have to collect scrap metal and sell it just to buy food. I know. I've been there and done that. Tough times indeed.

I was really hungry so I ate my lunch at 2.40PM. Today I skipped breakfast, but have had some lunch - on a borrowed money.


YES! The money is in my bank account. My monthly costs of food, newspapers and accomodation only cost me USD 158 per month. Being paid USd 526 per month in a third world country such as this, is sweet music to the ears. In the tough times, when a recent article in the newspaper mentioned that for some universities, only 30% of their Degree holding graduates are getting a (good) job. I only have a Diploma. Nothing is better than this. This is the best deal ever in my life, and I will do my best to keep my relationship with the publisher going strong.

The beginning

But... this is not the end. It's merely the beginning. I have no house, no transportation, and this job is just freelance work on a per book title basis. It is ironic, but it is true. You need money to make money. This is why the rich get richer. What is important is that for now, I do have some money. I will divide my money into 4 part. First is for necessities. Second is for saving. Third is for business and fourth being for entertainment and knowledge. But seriously, I won't use that much for entertainment so some of it will goes into savings anyway. I will think like a business, and I will start small. But the important half is to invest. That is why I put aside one part for business and one part for invesment. Should the business fail, I'm still going strong.

Whatever is going to happen in 2006, I want to make sure that by the end of it - I'll be a millionaire. In USD if I can. Although to be a millionaire in RM is more than good enough. It's not like that I want to buy a fast car or big house (I plan to buy a simple apartment and a small bike, and a cheap 4WD later on). It's just that I want to stop worrying where my next lunch will come from. When you've been skipping lunch for weeks, to eat like normal is great. The reason on why a million dollars, is that by putting it into a safe investment (we have a goverment backed investment tool that give something like 10% a year here. It's a zero risk venture - you won't loose your money) - I can live on the dividend. So I can spend my time doing things that I like, write books, watch movies, program games. Watch demos and intros (the last time I watched any 64K intros was in 2000, Please the cookie thing, .the .product and 7th heaven. My 500 MHz PC is too lame to run anything).

I know some of you might say that I dont have to be a millionaire to do all of above.

But hey, who are you to stop me anyway ;-P

Knowing Hugi the way it is, and since I'll be be sending this after the new year, I don't know when it will get published. However, happy new year to all and I hope you too will become a millionaire this year.

Why? It's just sad to watch you crying in the street holding your baby.

Bye ;-)

PS - The picture at the beginning was taken in March 2000. By the owner of the cyber cafe with his digital camera. The picture was then copied to a disk. This is the only "digital" image I have, and I don't have many real photo either.

PS2 - They say to target the star, if you fail, you're still on the moon. Actually, RM 250,000 (USD 65,790) in a goverment investment scheme is going to get me something like RM 2090 per month, which is more than enough to live on. Mind you, this is the dividend, I don't have to work at all for it. Free money, so to speak. Although if I work, it means I'm getting more money per month (not to mention even more money to be invested). Like I said, who is going to stop me from being a millionaire (or billionaire, for that matter). Actually, a lot. Like Azizi Ali (that millionaire pilot) wrote in one if his book, if you bring peace on earth - arms manufacturer, worker, and stock holder will be fuming mad at you. Is that a good reason not to bring peace on to earth? I know there are people who don't want to see me rich - they doesn't want the spotlight to change direction. The won't be able to brag anymore about how much they are making per month. But who cares?

I just want to be a millionaire, and have my lunch. Thanks.

- Fable Fox,