By FARIK ZOLKEPLI firstname.lastname@example.org
KUALA TERENGGANU: Young trader Wan Bilal Wan Lokman is not just an elder brother to his five siblings he is also their “father” and “mother” since their parents died of cancer.
The 21-year-old sells ikan and kerang bakar at a stall outside their house in Kampung Bukit Tunggal to make sure that his siblings can go to school.
Wan Bilal’s hard work paid off when his youngest brother Wan Muhammad, 12, scored straight A’s in the Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination recently.
“I am so proud of him,” Wan Bilal said. “All I told him to do was study hard and leave the other problems to me. His success gives me encouragement to work harder.
“My other brother Wan Muhammad Ilyas is pursuing a degree in Biometric Science in Universiti Malaya while two other siblings are in a boarding school. A sister is studying at SM Institut Al-Quran.
“Seeing their success is more than enough for me,” said Wan Bilal who lost his father to colon cancer nine years ago.
“I never ask them for anything except to do well in their studies.”
He said his mother had made him promise to take care of the younger siblings before she succumbed to bone cancer two years ago.
“On her deathbed, she put her faith in me, so I must not let her down. Sending my brothers and sister to foster homes was never a choice,” he said in a recent interview.
Instead of pursuing higher studies after scoring decent grades in his SPM four years ago, Wan Bilal, the third of eight siblings, chose to put up the stall.
“My eldest sister is married with her own family and can only afford to help us out a little. My older brother is working elsewhere. It comes down to me to cover the expenses of my younger siblings,” said Wan Bilal.
“The money I make every night is barely enough, but thankfully, we survive so far.”
It is hard life for the youth, whose typical day starts as early as 6.30am when he has to send his brother to school and go to the market for his supplies.
“I would start selling from about 5pm until midnight,” he said.
“It’s a tiring life, but my siblings need me.”