This article was first published in hoolah.co on 3 June 2019.
Azura Jaffar and Yusof Jumat have been married for 10 years. In their decade long marriage, they recount the struggles they have been through together with their six children.
The scene would play out every weekday morning just before sunrise. A mother would wake her six children. Some disgruntled grunts would follow, but the mother, at times with the father’s help, always win. One after another, with much chiding and occasional encouragement, a child would get into the toilet, brush his/her teeth, wash up, get dressed, and be ready for school. When the children are ready, they would hop onto the newly purchased family e-scooter, driven by their mother, and be on their way to school.
For the average Singaporean family, the scene is no stranger and not uncommon. It is, in many ways, reflective of our national narrative: Raising a child in “one of the most expensive cities in the world” is no easy feat. Such is also the life of Azura Jaffar, and her husband, Yusof Jumat. “We are most cranky in the morning,” she laughs.
For Azura and Yusof, 2019 marks their decade-long commitment with one another. It also marks a poignant anniversary of Yusof’s retrenchment. Previously working as a part time courier driver at a delivery company, Yusof had earned sufficiently to sustain the family’s expenses then. When he caught wind of the announcement, he was overwhelmed.
“I had nowhere to go and I don’t know what to do,” he tells me. “I felt the tightness. I need to let go of my car and my bike, and that is where we struggle to get the kids to school.”
In light of such circumstances, Yusof and Azura made the pragmatic and conscious decision to purchase an e-scooter. “It is quite difficult to take a taxi. It is impossible for us to book a Grab too. When we count on our finances to and from school, it will be expensive,” Azura adds. “If we do this for five days, you can imagine the cost.”
Scouring around Singapore for the perfect model, it wasn’t until the couple made a visit to MOBOT Headquarters at Oxyley Biz Hub where Azura set her sights on one —the EV2019. Practical and sturdy, the three-seater e-scooter could hold up to a maximum load of 160kg while boasting a sleek silhouette with ample leg room and a pre-installed front basket. For Azura, it was love at first sight.
“When we told Mobot about our finances, the marketing manager, Bobby, directed us to use hoolah and pay via instalments at 0% interest,” Azura explains. “Because for instalment-based payments, we would usually need to use payslips or any documentations. With hoolah, we just used our debit card. There was no processing fee. There was no hassle.”
But life has a way of presenting itself with curveballs at the most inopportune moments. Sickness, in different forms, often beget late nights and incessant hassle for the parents of six. When one of the children contracted chicken pox, Azura says, more would follow and fall ill.
“After the chicken pox party ended, we were relieved for a few weeks. Then, suddenly another one got Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. And it repeats again. Thankfully, my husband was there to help,” Azura admits.
Azura too was plagued with battles of her own. After she had given birth to a healthy daughter, she had contracted thyroid. Fever fluctuations, slight disfiguration on the neck were initially observed, but Azura shook it off. She continued working as a customer service officer to earn extra income for the family. It wasn’t until a recent aggravated case of thyroid storm sent her hospitalised in April this year.
“At that point of time, I was working with Grab and Deliveroo as a food delivery driver. It was really a struggle,” Yusof says, eyes tearing and voice quivering. “She is a strong woman. I cannot get another girl like her. I appreciate her so much.”
To observe the duo banter to one another is akin to observing two young lovers’ not-so-lavish secret exchanges. Yusof would often make subtle gazes and cheeky smirks from afar while Azura tends to their children. And Azura would reciprocate with a sheepish smile or laugh at Yusof’s occasional jibes. Speaking with each of them, it becomes clear that the duo are more than marriage partners; they are best friends. Jolly good ones too.
“Family is my first priority,” Yusof tells me. “I don’t care what others say about us. My partner has been there for me through my ups and downs. I love her, my family, and no one else.”
* This article is a joint collaboration between hoolah.co and Mobot. We thank Yusof and Azura for their time for the feature. Here’s wishing all Muslims a happy Hari Raya Aidilfitri!*