Marinie, or Water Lilly, my friend and also an adik angkat, went ranting today about the unfairness of fellow human beings, or rather their insensitiveness to the wellbeing of WL and her friends. Reading her post, I sense anguish and frustration boiling and I feel for her. Maybe, to many of us, life has been easy. And by many standards, it has.
I am not a good writer. But if you would bear with me, let me try to give you a glimpse of a day in the life of those who not as lucky as many of us are. And what I will be attempting, it may not even suffice to raise the consciousness nor the hardship WL may face each passing day.
Waking up early morning to catch the bus to school, I walk the dark streets to the bus stop. The school bus had come by earlier than normal, and I had to give it a miss. Its either that, or missing Subuh.
I have to walk fast or miss the 6.15am bus to KL. But he road is uneven and barely 200 meters walking, my left leg began to feel pain along the calf, so I slow down my steps and begin to hobble. No matter how I try to hide it, some people began taking notice of the awkward steps I am making. Due to the extra energy I have to use, I begin to sweat. By the time I reach the bus stop, my forehead and hair is wet. A smart looking guy at the bus stop could not help himself with his words "Hai...main hujan ke?", when the nights has been dry for many days now. I look at him and just smile in return.
The bus stop is full of people, and I can only lean on the stand, lifting my left leg a tad above ground to rest it, and putting all the pressure on my right. My face must have shown a grimace of pain or two, as another guy keep turning and looking at me. I begin to feel awkward, like I am the butt of a sick joke, and the feeling of awkwardness shifts to embarrassment and soon, humiliation. Luck was with me as the bus arrive and all of us clamber aboard. Yes, clamber. For this is still a trait in this self declared (by that toyol) Developed State of Islam Hadhari nation, passengers jostle with each other boarding a public transport - a scene quite like any 3rd World Country.
Afraid of having my foot stepped on as it already has a pain of its own, I wait. Soon as the last few is in, I climb aboard. Expectedly by then, all the seats have already been taken. With my bag slung across my shoulder, I clutch the rubbery handhold dangling from a metal bar. I then notice the man who was looking at me at the bus stop, is sitting right in front. I ignore him as he is similar to the pain on my left leg that refuse to go away.
The pain in both legs now begins to throb even more as my body sways with the bus movements as it negotiates corners, bends, and even when it stops to pick up more passengers. With more people, the bus becomes crowded and I stand almost rigid, adding yet more pressures to the left leg. For 40 minutes, I endure the ride to KL.
In KL, I begin the treacherous walk to the school. On mornings such as this, I am faced with a dilemma: either use the road which has a long steep staircase, or use the further route where the gradient of the hill is kinder to my legs but not the distance. Several times in the future of this past, I decide not to use any.
I am now in my classroom with my shirt soaking wet. A mindless schoolmate pass a remark similar to those at the bus stop earlier. Again I choose to ignore. And slowly as the hours pass by, the pain subsides and I can now move around, but as normal as any cripple would. For some reasons, some other mindless students would let out a jeer or two. Later in future life, the jeers would be like 'cendana', quite like Allahyarham Nordin Ahmad's character in the Patung Cendana movie some very many years ago. Sometimes, the pain of these name-calling can be worse than the physical pains of my left leg.
At 1.10pm, the school bell begins to ring, and many of the lower form students begin walking out; their school day has ended while for several others and I, it is time to rest. At 2.30, each of us who have not walked out, will begin our extra curriculum activity.
Even as a toddler, I was fascinated with the Army. Back in Pengkalan Chepa, Kelantan, the road in front of our house was regularly used by soldiers from a nearby camp en route to their foot patrols at a secondary jungle a short distance away. Perhaps, the sight of those soldiers later enticed me to join the School's Army Cadet Corp, thinking my leg condition is as normal just as anyone.
For 3 years, another friend and I had to endure the taunts and shouts of especially a certain senior who was a Sergeant in the Cadet Corp. And because the 2 of us could not execute the 'pacak' drill without the military boots, we became the target of more verbal abuse by the Sergeant and several NCOs. But time pass by too fast, and before we knew it, both of us became 5th year seniors and outlasting many other 'fit' cadets.
Still, the adult life was not kind enough for both of us.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I write this for my friend and 'lift' sister (adik angkat), WL. The pain she and many other people similar to her has to endure in their daily lives may not be visible nor felt by other people. They ask not for pity, but the simple courtesy and kind thoughts one would bestow upon another. Are we, the physically able, mentally handicapped not able to do so? (This is meant for those inconsiderate people mentioned in WL's entry.)
WL, Muha, kerpie, and even Pak Kassim, forgive me if I am unable to portray the true situation each of you face daily.