For those of you who are not living and working in your motherland, don’t you hate it when the people in your own country assumes that you are having a money tree behind your backyard that you must give the fruit of that tree every month to them as their monthly tithes offering?

Then when you go back to a place whom you consider your home still-they expect you to spend everything most of the time? They assume we have the currency template for instant money printing faster than Western Union, Ria and PG in our luggages! Wow!

If only they knew…the truth of our pains and suffering living and working in a foreign land. Money tree in the backyard? I wished. We all wished. But no money tree there. Instead, we are digging the ground deeper each day to find our food…our water to live if there is no food and if we are lucky; perhaps some oil to sell to buy food.

Living in a foreign land is challenging. If you are on your own, you take comfort having someone by your side even if it is the blind leading the blind. That way you don’t feel you are alone. But most of the time we are alone first. So, where do we start?

Accommodations? Sharing is the best option always. Now time to find people we can bond to share a home with them. After finding them, comes the challenge how much of your things or my things we can share with one another? How much do we have to spend or contribute? Life is hard, I need to save. I need to live too.

Then the issue of work. What can I do? You may be a professional in your own country but in a foreign land….you are “0:0”. You have to start like everyone. From ground zero. Cleaner, factory worker, taxi driver, butchery, fruit shop, restaurant, junior role etc. Why? Because even professional jobs require you to have some of that country work experiences or qualification at least although your resume is almost like Obama.

Then, when work and home matter is settled and we just started living like a human being…back home comes a call. “Son, Brother or Hubby, I need money for this. Can you send me money fast please?”. Suddenly the house needed fixing, your sister suddenly getting married, appliances that worked like new although its antique suddenly died and many more sudden incidences that requires immediate expenses comes up.

And we being the good and obedient- mother- loving- masjid/church/temple- going- daughter/son felt what just hit our head. We just started to live and now we have to go back to the start line again. Don’t tell me what we heard was a false start gun shot when we were all set to run our race. OMG.

So, being the “mother-loving” gibberish child we are, we sigh and do what they require. After all it’s my family or best friend ma! Have to help lo! Aiyaa…sei-lah (as a common Chinese people way of saying it in Malaysia meaning-Have to help even if we will die)

Why do they think this? I can never know. The minute you mention you live and work in a foreign land…you are a money bag. Expectations fly high even if you are the black sheep of the family once. If you don’t help, you are considered as a Scrooge or ungrateful child/friend. If you help, the request keeps coming in like those Charity organisations who got your phone numbers from God knows where.

Why can’t they think we are just starting? Why can’t they think that our lives are even harder than when we are in our own country?

Should we tell them the truth how we started living here? Sleeping on wool blankets, collecting thrown furniture on the street to furnish our house with the basics (admit it…some of us do find good things thrown on the street and we take them) and eating like we are on Jennifer Craig’s diet most of the time-the unhealthy version of course but with the same portions.

Even our once glamourous fashion statements now come from St Vincent’s and Salvation Army’s Boutique as a starter-pack before we finally purchase new clothes after months of savings.

They don’t know this. I guess it’s not extreme to say that they don’t want to know this. They just want to know….” please remain on standby for money transfer when needed. After all you are working and living in a foreign land. Much bigger exchange rate than us. Wahhh…so you must or learn to send back some money home. We need our lives here to be better since your grass is greener on that side”.

If only they knew, the grass was never greener in the first place. In fact, there was no grass at all. It was just a bare empty land that we had to work on it. Rain or shine we slogged like “Baghban” (Gardener) and before we could taste the fruit of our work, we have to give it away in the name of family/friend due to a permissible man-made so-called natural disaster.

I am not saying that we shouldn’t give when it is much needed. But they should understand that our lives are not easy in the foreign land. In a foreign land, we are nothing financially. No money means no food. No work means no life. No family means no help-you are all on your own. Life is hard to the core.

Thus, all I am saying is to exercise compassion and not take us for granted. Ask when it is really needed and wait patiently when it is given freely without asking. We do not have a money tree growing in our backyards. We certainly do not have money templates in our bag too. And our grass is not greener. Anytime, we can fall into despair.

Don’t believe? Come here and experience it yourself. You will know. That’s our reality living in a foreign land.