After spending about 2 hours there, I headed back home with Swee Bee to collect a mega luggage that I will be borrowing from her and of course with that luggage I took a cab home.
I flagged for a Comfort Delgro cab, with the signage Punggol on it. In other words, this driver is heading towards Punggol and will probably not take any passengers that is not on the way. Despite seeing me with the luggage, he stopped the cab and ask me for my destination before I board it.
'Uncle, dont worry its Buangkok Crescent that I'm going....not airport,' I assured the driver as I got on the cab. He turned back his head and smiled at me before driving off.
'Actually if its airport, I will still drive you there and then go back home to Punggol, I need money.... but I have been driving since 5am this morning and I am getting very tired,' the driver who is in his late 40s said to me.
He owes Comfort Delgro near to $1000 of rental fees.
I looked at the clock in the cab, its 11.35pm. He had been working for 18 hours and I believe its his daily weekday routine. During the weekends, he has a relief driver.
Apart from driving for a living, he has to fetch his wife to the hospital everyday for physiotherapy. She suffered from stroke 3 years ago. Doctor had told the family that there is no way she can recover, nevertheless they did not give up. With constant care and physiotherapy session she can at least walk with crutches now.
To make matters worse, his wife's family choose to ignore their problem and had never contacted since then.
I cannot help but asked him about his children...hoping that they are big enough to help support the family. Unfortunately both boys are still in their teens, a 2nd year Diploma student and the younger one in Secondary 4 this year.
This driver is the sole-bread winner of the family. He needs to provide financial support as well as moral support for his wife. Not only that, he has to play the role of both mother and father to his 2 boys.
Fortunately due to his wife's condition, their mortagage insurance paid off their housing loan and hence that is one less burden. However, he can still barely make ends meet. Of course, he can barely make ends meet... school fees, daily expenses, medication, consultation fees, electrical bills, cab rental, diesel, etc...not to mention the government is making the two ends even further to meet.
He was telling me his schedule for the next 2 weeks before Chinese New Year. He had to work long hours and on New Year's Eve, he will have to cook and after eating reunion dinner, he has to continue driving again. Unlike others who will be doing visiting, he will drive and his family will be at home, waiting for him.
When I reached my destination, the fare came up to $4.40 I gave him a $5 and got him to keep the change. He looked back at me and that was when I got to really see him clearly because the lights were on.... slightly greyish hair, slim-built, a very humble looking man.
'Thank you and happy holiday,' was what he said to me.
'Go home and rest, your family needs you,' I replied.