Something happened while we were in Malaysia, something that made us realize miracles do happen, even in this age. We just have to be ready and believe in God!
On the fourth day of our vacation, we were all set to visit the Petronas Towers in the evening. And we were carrying just enough cash in hand to buy the tickets and have dinner afterwards in the mall itself. As luck would have it, the tickets for the day were sold out and we ended up buying tickets for the next evening.
As it was only 7pm, we decided to explore Jalan Alor without realizing we had only 150MYR as cash with us. After walking for what seemed like a very long time, we ended up at this amazing food street and spend close to an hour taking in the sights and trying some of their most popular dishes. However, the children were not in an experimentative mood that day and stuck to a plate of assorted satay. They were still famished by the time we were leaving so we decided to grab some rolls for them from the nearby fastfood joint.
Freddy had inquired the taxi rates to the hotel by then and couple of them had quoted 25MYR. And we had already blown up 100MYR at the hawker stalls without realizing how much cash we were carrying. While entering the joint we came across a Syrian refugee family sitting on the pavement nearby. An entire family with elders and kids, all well dressed, sitting holding a placard asking for help. Their eyes had a haunted look, even the children’s, as if they had been to hell and back. And all they were asking was some money to buy milk for the children.
My eyes had welled up by this time and Freddy had an inkling of what I would be saying next. And he reminded me that we have only around 50MYR to buy food for the girls and get back home safely. And he followed it up with the classic one liner, be practical. We cant help everybody on this planet. I knew in my heart that its the survival instinct of a father and husband that made him say it. That he was concerned about our safety in a foreign land. Yet, crestfallen, we went inside stood in queue to order food. By this time, the girls had understood the situation we were in. And when I asked hesitantly whether they would be ok with smaller sized rolls to help the family outside, they readily agreed without batting an eyelid. It was truly one of those moments where I would have hugged them and cried for joy if we were not standing in queue! I was so proud of my girls! Total bill, 12MYR.
Now, to convince Freddy who had a stern angry look on his face! The face of someone who has already realized the ladies of the family are a determined lot 🙂 And keeping just 10MYR for our journey, the he gave the children the rest of the money and they gave it to the ammachi in the group. I know 25MYR is a very small amount, its only about 500rs in Indian currency, but all of them could at least have a small dinner that night.
And again we were out of luck. It was past 9.30pm and we were stuck in a place with close to zero currency and the girls were super tired after their long day. None of the cheaper taxis were available. In the end, Freddy had to flag down a premium meter taxi. None of us would ever forget that ride. Freddy saw how stressed out I was and kept saying Don’t Worry. We can get some cash from the reception and pay off the taxi! And still all of us had our eyes glued to the meter. That ride was one hell of a cliffhanger!
And yet, with just 10MYR in our pocket, the fare came to a meagre 8MYR. When the taxi pulled up at the drive, we were in shock and awe! All of us truly understood the meaning of “the more you give, the more you receive” that day! And of how God works in mysterious ways! And from then onwards, we have never kept a budget for helping those in need. Or make excuses.
This story is more relevant today with the political situation the world is in. We have democratically elected representatives working towards bringing legislation that will help keep refugees out of their state. At times like these we need to remind ourselves we cannot and should not be making compromises when human dignity is at stake. After all, like they say, no one leaves their home unless home is where the shark is!
We humans have a tendency to not act so long as we do not have to see the suffering firsthand. And then there are those who don’t do anything even when they see suffering firsthand! Agreed, we might not be able to help everybody in this world, but we can at least work towards a beginning! Like Reagan once said, “We cant help everyone, but everyone can help someone!” Now that’s some major food for thought!