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My first income

by C. D.

Going back in time to 1960, while still schooling in Rangoon Burma, I attended a night class on Radio engineering. This is where I learned how to create schematic diagrams and repair radios. These radios were the old version type with large glass valves, resistors, transformers and condensers before even transistor radios came into existence.


Word got around because my father was proudly promoting my skills as a radio engineer. One of his close friend (actually my first customer) called me up one day and requested me to check on his radio as it was howling like a wolf.  I went into his apartment with my repair kit and checked his Philips brand radio. The incoming signal was weak and clearly needed an outdoor aerial. I purchased a long aerial wire and an antenna. Then I went up to the roof-top and set up the antenna on a metal pole, threw the end part of the aerial wire down to the apartment window from outside the building wall, ran the wire neatly around the walls and connected it to the radio input socket. Voila! The radio signals were transmitting in loud and clear. The customer was so pleased to finally listen to his favorite radio station, that he immediately grabbed and hugged me. When he asked what he should pay me for my job, I shyly replied “200 Kyats”. Gladly he handed it over to me.


With a satisfactory smile on my face, I returned back home and handed the amount to my father, as it was my very first income. His reply is still embedded in my brains. He said, “Your mother is the one who delivered and brought you into this world and I only motivated you and got you your first customer, so you should actually hand over your first income to your mother.” So I did, immediately. 200 Kyats was really a big deal for me as a teenager those days.


A few months later and saving enough amount from other jobs, I put down a payment for my first motorbike, ‘Java’ made in Czechoslovakia. It was my pride and joy!  Out came the leather jacket, gloves and boots before John Trovalta was even born.


As time passed by and after I graduated, my father established a radio shop for me so I could not only sell radios but also repair the ones that came in. Soon radio brands such as Marconi, Philips, Grundig and Echo were coming in for repairs. Work increased gradually and I hired a manager to overlook the business and also a technician to assist me in the repairs. 


Unfortunately fate imposed on me and changed my life path. The military took power in 1962 in a military coup. Just after my lunch at home, I went over to the shop and was surprised to see a military officer sitting on my chair. He claimed that he was immediately taking over control of my shop under the military rule. Most of the nearby shops too were taken over.  No compensation or collaboration was eventually discussed and so after a few months, I had no choice but to migrate to Hong Kong and started a new life.


I wonder these days if the Generation Z would ever think of giving their first income to their mothers! Probably spend it on an electronic gadget or a gift for their loved one?  Back then as youngsters, we were taught to respect our mother first and foremost.  Without her we would not be in the world.

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