I had wanted to write something else, but I received this story from a friend and thought it is a good story to share here. I hope everyone gets inspired bu this story.
The Ah Kau Story
Ah Kau is a guy who sells newspaper every morning next to
your apartment, and you are one of his daily regular
customers. Before dashing off to your office every day,
you will go to his small stall and buy The Star
newspaper. Wearing a newly pressed shirt, a tie, and a
pair of Clarks shoes, you grab a copy of The Star, pay
RM1.20 and exchange smiles with Ah Kau and greet him.
Apa macam Ah Kau ini hari? Bisnes ada baik?
The normal greeting like you do every day. Yes, Ah Kau
doesn¡¯t speak English. He speaks Chinese and knows a
little bit of Malay. He speaks a little bit of Malay but
with a very thick Chinese accent.
Biasa saja¡ ini bisnes aa, kadang kadang baik, kadang
kadang tada untung oo¡.
Biasalah hidup. Kadang kadang ok, kadang kadang tak
You give Ah Kau a pat on the back. You smile and
walk away and get into your car. You start the engine and
start driving to your office, a multinational
semiconductor company located in a premier industrial
area. You are a young and promising finance executive and
the future looks bright for you.
A year goes by and things look pretty good on the track.
You decide to marry your fiancé and have your new wife
moves in to your place. Both of you feel happy because
you can save more money as the two of you will be sharing
one apartment and can live as one.
Ah Kau is still selling the newspaper as usual. Sometimes
in the morning your wife gets the newspaper from Ah Kau
instead of you.
A year later a child comes along, and you decide to buy
and move into a newly developed condominium just across
the street. This place is bigger so it will be perfectly
fit for the 3 of you. But since both of you are working,
you decide to get a maid to take of the household and
By this time you’re offered a managerial job from
another multinational; the remuneration package offered
is much better in terms of the pay, contractual bonus,
medical benefits, ESOS scheme and a few others which make
it impossible for you to decline. So you join this company happily.
You get busier. You realize that you spend less and less
time with your family. When your department is busy
preparing for the next audit, your working hours become
more and more ridiculous. Any internal issues arising in
the office means you’ll be stuck in the office until 8
or 9 pm. Sometimes, during the weekend, you’ll spend
your time in your office, buried under paper works and
documentations, instead of taking your family for a walk
in the park.
One morning, on your way to get your copy of The Star,
you realized that Ah Kau is no longer in his stall. So is
his rundown motorbike. Instead, there’s another young
Chinese guy at the stall.
What happen to Ah Kau? You ask out of curiosity.
Oh, he is still around, but he is no longer taking care
of this stall as he has opened up a new grocery shop down
town. I am running this newspaper stall for him.
Ok, you smile. You feel happy for Ah Kau. At last he manages to improve his
Your normal life continues. A year passes by and at the
end of your company’s fiscal year, you’re rewarded for
your effort with a 5 months bonus pay-out by your
employer. Wow. Now that is a very handsome reward. You
feel your effort has been equally compensated. To
celebrate, you decide that it’s time to trade your
5-year old Proton Wira to the latest Honda Civic model.
It won’t be much a problem to you to get a loan scheme
from the bank as your pay slip will provide you an easy
gateway to access financial help from any bank.
One day, the hardest reality of life hits you right on
the face. The company that you’ve been working for years
announces that they’re moving their business to China
for cost and competitive reason and has asked you to find
a job somewhere else. What? You scream out cold. I
got a lot of liabilities on the card! Who’s gonna pay
for my mortgage? My car? My credit card? My gym fees? My
bills? You yell like there’s no way out.
This is the first time you feel let down by your own
employer. All your hard work seem to go up on the smoke.
You feel sick. You now hate your company. On the way
home, you stopped by at a mamak restaurant for a cup of
teh tarik while pondering about your future. Alone.
Suddenly you saw this new, shiny BMW 3 series being
parked nearby. And to your surprise, it was Ah Kau. Yes,
Ah Kau who used to sell newspapers nearby your old
apartment. What happened to old Ah Kau? You whisper
to your self.
Ah Kau still recognizes you, and sit next to you, and
shared his story.
To make it short, Ah Kau had accumulated his money from
selling newspapers to open more stalls, one after
another. Every new stall is run by his workers so that he
focused on opening more and more stalls, which in turn
give him more and more money. Over the years, he had
accumulated enough cash to open up new grocery store
while at the same time buying more assets to grow his
wealth. And his current wealth and success is achieved
without any loan or financial help from banks and other
There you go. That’s the story. While Ah Kau is set to
become financially free, you’re back to where you’re
started before. Ground zero.
Before leaving, Ah Kau gives you a familiar quote,
Biasalah hidup. Kadang kadang ok, kadang kadang tak ok.
He gives you a pat on the back and walks away.
In reality, if you’re observant enough, there are a lot
of Ah Kaus out there, that you will see every day and
every where you go. The names are different, but inside
them is every character of Ah Kau. They might be Uncle
Dorai, Ah Chong, Pak Abu, Makcik Gemuk, Pak Man nasi
lemak or others.
They look to be struggling on the surface, but if you
look carefully and compare with you life, many of them
are living with little or no liabilities. They ride an
old kapcai bike. They live in an old rundown house.
They don’t have credit card to swipe. They wear a
10-year old shirt and short. No new, shiny Toyota
Harrier. In short, their living means are far below than
yours. But what you don’t realize is that many of them
can save more money than yours, and over the years
generate enough money to expand their business, or invest
in properties. Their asset columns are much thicker than
that of yours.
So the next time you see Ah Kau, never look down on
them, and never under estimate them. Or else you’re up
for a harsh reality.