Last Saturday by sheer mistake and a lot of reluctance on my part, I found myself in the scenery of Pasar Chow Kit. Well, doing marketing in a wet market isn’t the itinerary of my precious weekend. But I got myself a mother in law, you see. A stickler to value for money and fresh produce, Mama must go to Pasar Chow Kit. Off I went with her.
I heaved my feet lazily and trailed Mama’s back. As I was absorbing the hustle bustle of the market, I spotted one lonely figure on a wheel chair begging for a small change from passers by. My heart sank looking at a dire state this man was in. He was paralysed from waist down. His clothes were old and shabby. His kopiah moldy. Traces of white unkempt stubbles were all over his lower face. He must have been at least in his late sixties. If Ayah were to be alive, they would be about the same age.
Mama asked me to give him some money and I obeyed. I emptied the contents of my small change pouch and gave it to him. He said “terima kasih nak.” His expression was a mixture of sadness and gratitude. My heart sank once again.
Mama marched ahead to complete her morning mission and I can’t get the image of that old man out of my mind. I felt guilty for giving him just my small change. I often berate myself for not being grateful enough with what I have. I dig my sling back deeper in search of my wallet – found it. After a trip to Ikano last night, I have only RM50 left. No Maybank sign visible in the vicinity.
I got into thinking, on normal day, how would I spend this RM50? Easy, I thought. My first cup of morning coffee at Strabucks costs me RM10. Lunch with friends deducts another RM30 or so, could be more. The balance of RM10 would go to parking or another cup of latte in the evening. Ingrate! May be today, I will spend it differently.
I told Mama I got something to do and she frowned in suspicion. I left in a hurry to where that old man was. Found him and I bent down by the side of his rickety wheel chair. I asked his name and he told me his name is Ibrahim.
Me: “Pakcik dah makan pagi?”
Him: “Dah, gerai sebelah ni tiap-tiap pagi kasi Pakcik makan. Anak ni sapa?”
Me: “Saya Elviza, tadi tuh ibu mertua dan suami saya. Pakcik tinggal mana?”
Him: “Kat Chow Kit ni jugak. Pakcik tido kat tepi-tepi kedai ni bila mereka tutup. Nak pergi jauh-jauh pun tak boleh.”
At this juncture he looked down at his legs sheepishly. I touched his legs; they were lifeless. I gulped the lump in my throat.
Me: “Pakcik, ni ada duit sikit, Pakcik ambik buat makan ya?”
I slipped the money into his pocket.
Him: “Eh! tak payah nak, duit tadi tuh dah cukup untuk Pakcik makan. Banyak nih! apa kata suami anak nanti?”
Me: “Tak pe, ini duit kami berdua, Pakcik ambik. “ I insisted.
I touched his face and said goodbye. Tears flowed down his wrinkled cheeks and he grabbed my left arm. This is what he said that I am going to remember for as long as I live –
Him: “Berkatlah hidup anak dan ibu bapa kamu yang membesarkan kamu.”
In my life I have lost many things dear to me. I have made plenty of friends and surely made a number of enemies as well. But one thing, I am sure I haven’t lost is – my compassion. Ayah’s legacy lives in me.
So, tell me friends what would you do with your RM50 today?
*this posting is dedicated to Pi Bani, who works tirelessly for the HIV infected persons*