4th Serving: Wants and Needs

   When she was a child, Ana rarely asked for anything from her mom. Maybe she had everything she wanted. Maybe she didn’t want anything. Maybe she didn’t know how to ask. Ana was just the way she was. 

   One day, her teacher told her to take good care of her text books.

” Wrap the covers with plastic sheets. That way, they won’t get dirty. Ask your parents to buy you some. Make sure you get it done by next week, or you’ll have to pay a fine.”

   So, Anna asked her mom, who she always thought was less busy than her dad.

“Okay, dear, I’ll buy some tomorrow,” her mom replied, though at that time she was busy marking her students’ papers. Anna was happy. Now, her text books won’t get dirty. But the days went by, and soon, next week became tomorrow. Her text books already had smudges on their covers and Anna became worried.

“Mom, when are you gonna buy me some plastic sheets?” she asked.

“Oh, I forgot! Sorry dear, I had so many things to do,” her mom replied with a worried smile.” I’ll buy them tomorrow, before you go to school, okay?”

“Okay.”

   The next day, when her mom returned home with Anna’s big brother and little sister, Anna ran towards her and asked for  her plastic sheets. School started at a quarter to twelve. She only had half an hour left.

“Why didn’t you remind me about that before i went to fetch the others from school?! I completely forgot!” her mother cried in exhaustion before continuing. “Tell your teacher that you’ll get it done by next week, okay?”

   And at that, Anna felt tears forming and threatening to fall. Being the child that she was, Anna gathered up all her text books and took the morning newspaper to her room. She began to work on them herself, letting her tears running freely down her cheeks and onto her already dirty text books.She hated her mom for forgetting her simple request. Really, all she wanted was some plastic sheets. It wasn’t that hard. Maybe her mom didn’t try enough. Maybe her mom didn’t love her enough.

   When it was time for school, she sulked. It was a childish thing to do, but Anna was a child. It was expected of her. Her mom drove her quietly. Not a word was spoken in their small car.  Anna pretended to sleep, covering her eyes with her small hands. When the car came to a stop, Anna heard a small click as the doors were unlocked and the soft patter of her mom’s heels as she got out of the car. Anna uncovered her eyes, expecting to see her dreaded school, where she’ll surely be punished for her dirtied text books.

   It wasn’t. They were at a supermarket. What were they doing here? School was at the far end of the block. Anna took a peek at the market’s entrance. Her mom was already coming out with a plastic bag of the things she asked for in her hand. As fast as she could, Anna pretended sleeping again. She heard the crash as her mom slammed the driver’s door shut and the rustling of a plastic bag being placed next to her.

   There was a long silence that scared Anna. But the sound that broke the silence was a small sob that broke her small heart into a million tiny pieces. 

” I was busy, Anna. I didn’t mean to forget about them. It’s just that everything’s so hectic and I didn’t know what to do first,”her mom said. “I can’t do everything for everyone. But I can’t ever say no. And your father-“

   Anna felt her mom’s soft hand on her head. They were wet with tears. Anna stiffled a sob. She didn’t hate her mom. She never will. Her mom was selfless, kind, and so, so hardworking. She was just so very tired of helping everyone, but still, she tried and tried again.

   Slowly, Anna took her mom’s hand and placed it onto her cheeks. 

   “I’m sorry, mom. It’s okay. We can fix my books later. And I…”

I’ll never ask for anything ever again.I’ll never ask for anything I don’t need.

   Anna remembered that promise. The one she made with herself. It was a very long time ago, but she remembered it all too well. She was a child when she made that promise, but it was etched so deeply onto her mind. That was why she never asked for a new phone, or a better laptop, or a pair of contact lenses to replace her glasses. Those were her wants, not her needs.

   “Anna, are you listening to me?” her mom asked, pulling her back from her trip down memory lane.

   “Yeah, mom. I’ll be good. I won’t burn down the house while you’re away,” she answered jokingly.

  “Anna!!”

“Kidding, mom.”

“Well,here.” She thrust four fifty ringgit notes onto Anna’s hand and said,” Your brother’s asking for some cash again, For text books. Gosh, college sure costs some heavy bucks.” Her mother smiled helplessly at her. A sharp pain seared across her chest.

   “Yeah, I’ll make sure this gets to him. You’ll be back next week, right mom?” she asked, tucking the notes inside her pockets.

   “Uh-huh,” she answered distractedly as she started the car.” Just some business in . The shop needs restocking after all. I managed to scrap up just enough money for some stuff. It’s not easy with all the cars and bills to pay. I just wish that people understand. Since your father left, everything’s left in my hands. Both the good and the bad. He may have left some money, but he also left bills to pay and debts to settle. “

   ” I know, mom. Sometimes, you’re just too nice.” Anna couldn’t help sounding resentful. Not of her selfless mom, but the people who continued relying on her, even when she was at her limit. Maybe they didn’t understand. Or in some cases, they chose not to understand.

   “Well, I’m off, dear. Are you sure you don’t need anything?” her mother asked for the umpteenth time.

A new pair of earphones. 

   “No, mom. I’m good.” They were wants, not needs.

   As the small car disappeared from her view, Anna smiled bitterly, her mother’s recent words playing inside her mind.

    I managed to scrap up just enough money for some stuff.

   Sometimes, her mom was just too nice. And it was not breaking just her, but also Anna herself.

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2 thoughts on “4th Serving: Wants and Needs

  1. Hey, nana! Getting more and more like a professional writer. Awesome! I cried a little when reading this story. It reminds me of my Abah. It was hard back then to control myself from asking him to buy this and that. But, now.. i’m getting better on it. Anyways, great story and I can’t wait for more! 🙂

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