By Bryan Chua (14A01A)
Last year, Raffles Press and The Humanz Initiative had the opportunity to feature 55-year old cleaner Maheswari, who has been both a friendly presence in the school and an inspiration to many of us with her nuggets of wisdom.
As we announced on Tuesday, Maheswari is leaving the school today to return home to her family in Malaysia. Maheswari has 2 children and 2 granddaughters, and is returning home for her youngest son’s wedding, and to help take care of her grandchildren. When asked if she would ever come back to Singapore, she said, “Maybe I’ll come back for a holiday every once in a while”, because she still has relatives here – someone from her late husband’s side, who she has been staying with in Singapore, as well as her cousin’s sister who live here.
While she is indeed happy to be going back to Malaysia to be with her grandkids, Maheswari admits that she will miss many of the students she’s had the privilege of interacting with over the past year and a half since she joined the school – she says it’s been “very nice to have students…who always smile at me and are very nice to me.”
As for the future, Maheswari is still unsure of what she will do. She does still harbour some hopes of returning to her previous job as a primary school canteen stall owner, but seeing as she unfortunately missed out on the tender for it last year, she remains unsure and will “see what happens”.
Before she leaves, one wonders if she has any last words of encouragement for the students. She says, “No, not really…I don’t think the students can take much from me”, before adding, “I guess if anything it would be that smiling is the most important thing.”
Maheswari lives by her words, always working with a smile every time we see her in the walkway or coming in to help clear the trash in our classroom. She is wrong about one thing, though – we have much to learn from her, both in her attitude towards work and her attitudes towards the people around her. Even as we bid goodbye to her, she returns to finishing her work as dutifully as ever – echoing her words from last year. While many may view the work of a cleaner as unflattering, Maheswari still stands by her pride in being able to work even at 55 years old.
Unlikely as it may seem to her, Maheswari has been an inspiration to many of us, and will be dearly missed. We wish her all the best back home in Malaysia, and send our congratulations to her soon-to-be-married son.
Thank You Maheswari!