“I never told my children what my job was. I never wanted them to feel ashamed because of me. When my youngest daughter asked me what I did, I used to tell her hesitantly that I was a laborer.
Before I went back home every day, I used to take a bath in the public toilets so they did not get any hint of the work I was doing. I wanted to send my daughters to school, to educate them. I wanted them to stand in front of people with dignity. I never wanted anyone to look down upon them like the way everyone did to me.
People always humiliated me. I invested every penny of my earnings for my daughters’ education. I never bought a new shirt, instead, I used the money for buying books for them. Respect is all I wanted them to earn for me. I was a cleaner.
The day before the last date of my daughter’s college admission, I could not manage to get her admission fees. I could not work that day. I was sitting beside the rubbish, trying hard to hide my tears. All my co-workers were looking at me but no one came to speak to me. I had failed and felt heartbroken. I had no idea how to face my daughter who would ask me about the admission fees once I got back home. I was born poor. I believed nothing good can happen to a poor person.
After work, all the cleaners came to me, sat beside me, and asked if I considered them as brothers. Before I could answer, they each handed me their one day’s income. When I tried to refuse everyone; they confronted me by saying, ‘We will starve today if needed, but our daughter has to go to college.’ I couldn’t reply to them. That day I did not take a shower; I went back to my house like a cleaner.
My oldest daughter is going to finish her University very soon. Three of them do not let me go to work anymore. My oldest girl has a part-time job and the other three of them do tuition. Oftentimes, my oldest daughter takes me to my working place.
She feeds all my co-workers along with me. They laugh and ask her why she feeds them so often. My daughter told them, ‘All of you starved for me that day so I can become what I am today, pray for me that I can feed you all, every day.’ Nowadays I don’t feel like I am a poor man. Whoever has such children, how can he be poor?” – Idris