Malaysian, a special bond regardless of race

作者: Ea Jing Le

“Apa khabar, saya Tang dari EWF, saya difahamkan puan telah memohon bantuan khas Covid-19. Bolehkah saya mengetahui keadaan puan sekarang?” This is the ordinary opening of a conversation that has been looping in the living room for the past few days. Every conversation that seems ordinary implies an untold story that encapsulates warmth and unity between the nations. Since then, I profoundly comprehended the charm of our country which made us extraordinary. 

The journey of having a deeper perception of the charm of our country began when my mother shared the stories of the needy she got in touch with during this pandemic. She works in an NGO and I was exposed to various kinds of stories from a young age because of her job. Ever since Covid-19 got unbridled, the number of people applying for special aid has increased. Due to the limited aids provided, my mother had to call all applicants to understand their situation before decision making. 

A usual day when my mother was calling the applicants, I inadvertently peeked in her notebook which she used to jot down the applicants’ condition and hardship they faced. The phrase in the notebook “mutual assistance with a blind woman” caught my attention. My mother started sharing a story about an applicant who is a taxi driver named Ah Kuan. She is a single mother. The unanticipated strike of Covid-19 made her lose her source of income and she wasn't able to pay for her taxi rental. Before this, she used to carry a passenger who is a blind Malay woman to the market to beg for food. 

My mother then told me about a happening that deeply touched my heart. During this pandemic, Ah Kuan uses her own car to carry the blind woman to the market to cadge for food. The blind woman will then split the food she received with Ah Kuan to bring back and share with her son. I am at a loss for words. Both of them helped each other in order to overcome this adversity. This act of kindness and interconnectedness between them is indescribably exceptional.

When I was about to request for another story, a phone call cut in. “Really? That’s great! She must be very happy to hear this,” replied my mother. She told me that she and her colleague managed to help a university student from Ampang named Diviya who requested a laptop because her laptop malfunctioned. Diviya was supposed to hand in her final year project within a month. When she was distressed, her kind-hearted neighbour offered help and lent her laptop to him. She felt remorseful for utilizing her neighbour’s laptop for a long period of time. Unfortunately, my mother’s company did not have any extra laptops at that moment. Just then, my mother’s colleague indicated that he has a spare laptop and was willing to lend it to Diviya. 

My mother immediately called the student to notify her of this good news. Although I wasn’t able to see her reaction, I can feel that she was on cloud nine through her voice. This was when I realized an unpretentious deed for the giver may mean a lot to the beneficiary. A borrowed laptop from the neighbour, a spare laptop from a stranger, brought a smile to a sorrowful face. 

Out of the blue, a bawl came out from the study room. My mother and I went to the study room and saw my sister looking irritated while restarting her computer. “This lousy computer is so laggy!” My mother replied, “You should be grateful that you still have a computer. I have interviewed many applicants who didn’t even have a computer for their children to join online classes.” 

My mother then narrated a story regarding a family she called a few days ago. The father named Azahar worked as a school bus driver and his wife is a housewife taking care of five children. Schools were closed during this present pandemic so their source of income was cut-off. Azahar went to many factories to seek a job but no one hired him due to his age. Helplessness deepened every interview he went to. Azahar’s wife stated that five kids were always squabbling about using the phone for online classes because they only had a phone. Guilt was written all over my sister’s face.

Although they were in a very helpless situation, my mother said that Azahar’s wife sounded optimistic when they were on the phone. My mother said the only part when Azahar’s wife sounded pity is when she indicated “My youngest son asked me why I didn't cook chicken drumstick for him.” My heart sank and tears welled up in my eyes. Fortunately, Azahar’s family received special aid and took a photo of his son having a chicken drumstick. 

“There were many families who faced setbacks during this time but some of them proposed that they are willing to give this chance to the others who are in a more strenuous situation,'' said my mother. I was enthralled by the loving and kindness they hold. Although they were all facing destitution, they still tried to put themselves in other people’s shoes and show empathy to other families who needed help more desperately. That was when I felt Malaysians are loving and affectionate. I see the unity of Malaysians through these stories. The interconnectedness between Malaysians is a special bond regardless of race and can’t be broken in any circumstances. 

A mighty forest can’t be formed without trees; a mellow music can’t be formed without musical notes. Malaysia, a land of diversity can’t be formed without unity between different ethnicities in our country. Through these stories I am exposed, I am very appreciative that race hasn’t been a barrier for us, because we all have an identity that we all are extremely proud of, which is “Malaysian”. Ergo, we should embrace the diversity which highlights the uniqueness of our country.

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