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Friday, 11 September 2009

LRTQ 2: Humility and Humanity...

He was a doctor. But a damn cool one if I may say so. He would sit in the mamak stall with the ambulance driver and the attendants, chit chatting away as though they’ve known each other for years. In a small kampong, a doctor is considered well respected, almost like a VIP and to have an almost VIP sit and chat with you in the mamak stall, apparently is a big thing.

And when he was at work, mind you, this is the government Out Patient Department we are talking about, where doctors always seem to be in a hurry, he would take his sweet time talking to the patients, as though they were private patients at the GP clinic where he worked lochum (part time, paid by the hour) at.

The other colleagues were not too thrilled about him taking too much time on one patient because there were at least 300 patients waiting in line from even 6.30am in the morning, and the doctors would like to finish everything by lunch time, so that they could actually have lunch. Something to look forward to, as most of them had to skip breakfast in order to finish the workload at hand.

I was amongst them. That was our daily routine. I remember having to attend to 80 patients from after the ward rounds (that was if there were no “boo boos”, would finish sometime around 10.30am) up to 1.30pm, that was 1 hour past our official lunch time. So can you imagine the speed we had to cope with per patient, in order to entertain the whole crowd.

There were 4 doctors in full sitting, 2 doctors before 10.30 am. This is assuming that there were no emergency cases to attend to. Sometimes, overwhelmed with the routine, there were few occasions whereby I responded to the Mak Cik at the cafeteria who asked me, what do I want to put on my lunch plate, by saying to her, "Masaalah apa tu hari ni?" (That's a direct translation of "what's the problem today?"; a standard question I start off with each patient) instead of "menu apa hari ni?" (that's "what's the menu for today"). The Mak Cik just smiled obviously got used to my absent mindedness. Yes, we were THAT bogged down with work!! And that was just half the day schedule...

But Dr Shah would not bother about what the other colleagues said to his face or behind his back. He would tell us, “That Mak Cik walked 7 miles from the kampong, and was here to take the number at 7am. Tell me how can I not at least strike a decent conversation with her?”.

He had this thing about old people from the kampong, especially the poor ones. I remember him purchasing the whole goreng pisang plus the uncooked bananas right off the gerai to make sure the Mak Cik was able to pack up and go back home, as it was already getting late and the Mak Cik refused to go home until her goods were sold off.

That was the man I married. Perhaps that was why I married him. I was attracted to his obstinacy for humility and humanity. He may not be perfect, only because like any one of us, he too was human. But we were perfect for each other, well, almost, and that made it even more perfect.

And so, they say that the opposites attract. I operate in a different manner. I once, while mandated as the Acting Pengarah, suck at it (well, partly because kissing asses isn't one of my virtue; a requirement to move up the "keparat ladder"). One fine day, a nurse came rushing in huffing and puffing, bringing the news of the arrival of the YB. (not “Yang Bodoh” laaaaa….apparently it stands for “Yang Berhormat”), under the assumption that I would usher the YB in. Instead, I made the YB waited for nearly 1 and a half hours amongst the crowd. When asked later by my Pengarah, “Why?”, and I can still remember the pain I caught in her eyes, when she managed to utter the word “Why”, I gave her a very basic and simple explanation. “ Well, his post suggests that he represents the rakyat. I think it’s only fair that he experience what the rakyat are experiencing when they have to take the number and wait, while in sickness”.

Funny how the system works though. We were granted 2 extra doctors specifically to run the Out Patient Department, just 2 weeks after the YB’s visit. Well, I have to give him credit, for being able to indulge in empathy ,humility and humanity. Or was it because of the approaching pilihanraya day, I can't really remember now, never did really pay attention nor did I have the time to those crazy days. Then again, come to think of it, he could have gotten me transferred to East Malaysia, but he did not.

Humility and humanity are rare traits, I dare say. But it is the basic virtue encouraged by God, via all beliefs.

In Surah Al Furqaan verse 63, God said:

وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا

"And the servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, "Peace!". "

It is because of the lack of humility and humanity that men go to war, too proud to negotiate or even give in. Men build churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and proudly avow the others as enemies of God, when all God have been repeatedly telling the human beings since the history of human itself, is that all are but one. What is the point of being “enlightened” when the very enlightenment have not distinguish you from the Pagans that you condemn? A more disturbing question would be, are we really "enlightened" as we claim to be? (Read Syed Akhbar Ali's "From the Club of Doom again" , "The Ugly Malay" by Marina Mahathir and Walski's "Keeping Them Worms Canned" and tell me whether we are really "enlightened" people)

In Al Maidah, verse 32, God quantifies the killing of one man, is like killing humanity while saving one life is like saving humanity;

مِنْ أَجْلِ ذَلِكَ كَتَبْنَا عَلَى بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنَّهُ مَن قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَلَقَدْ جَاءتْهُمْ رُسُلُنَا بِالبَيِّنَاتِ ثُمَّ إِنَّ كَثِيراً مِّنْهُم بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ فِي الأَرْضِ لَمُسْرِفُونَ

"For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers came unto them of old with clear proofs (of Allah's Sovereignty), but afterward lo! many of them became prodigals in the earth."

It is due to the lack of humanity that men killed in the name of God. Had god wanted to spread His words by the force of the sword, then why was the Prophets not ordered to do so, unless in defense? Instead, the Prophets even way back from Abraham right down to Muhammad, carried the words of God, with humility and humility is the message of God via His messengers.

In Al A'araf verse 94, God said;

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا فِي قَرْيَةٍ مِّن نَّبِيٍّ إِلاَّ أَخَذْنَا أَهْلَهَا بِالْبَأْسَاء وَالضَّرَّاء لَعَلَّهُمْ يَضَّرَّعُونَ

"Whenever We sent a prophet to a town, We took up its people in suffering and adversity, in order that they might learn humility."

It is due to the lack of humility and humanity that one can just sit comfortably on the seat of public transportation, ignoring the sight of an old folk or a pregnant lady standing right in front of him, tummy as good as pressing against his nose. That is one of the reason why I don't bother sitting when I go on the LRT. There are too many pregnant ladies and old ladies coming my way. Furthermore, I once gave up my seat to a lady upon seeing her tummy just sitting there, right in front of my eyes. I could not interpret her bewildered mixed with something-else-I-can't-pin-point expression, until I realized that she probably felt insulted that I gave my seat up for her as she was carrying fat around in that tummy, and not a baby. Nevertheless, that had not kept her from taking up my seat anyway. So there you go, now you know why I don't bother sitting down at all. It's a mind field and potentially mind boggling experience, going on the LRT. You don't know whether you may insult the very person you intend to help.

It is because of the lack of humility and humanity that we drive the way we do on the road. It's easier when you don't know the person, neither can you see the facial expression of the driver, so it dampens one's conscience when we cut the queue, or when we refuse to give way despite the car in front gave a polite signal for the last 15 seconds. It is a well known phenomena, that if you want someone to step on it, just give a signal and he'll somehow speed up even from miles behind to make sure you cannot change into his lane. It may also be possible that the cause of these selfish driving is that the rude drivers actually suffer from inferiority complex. They may feel that by giving way, it is a sign of them being inferior to the people they gave way to. It's easy to leave humility and humanity at home when you drive in KL. After all, on the road, everyone is anonymous.

When will we realize that giving way or giving in does not mean you are inferior to that person, it does make one with the opposite virtue to be demeaning. I have my bad habits on the road, yes. I will go all out to not allow that rude driver who would force himself into my lane and do not care to give a signal and just cut in thinking I won't mind. But I do mind. It's as good as having a person suddenly barging in passing right through your nose without saying "excuse me". Yes, there are days when I can be mean, only to remind the rude driver that the signal is there for a reason and it does not take up that much power. Hey, if you take a look at Al Furqan verse 63 again,

"And the servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, "Peace!". "

it says there "say 'peace' ", nothing mentioned about giving those rude arshlochs a bit of difficulty while saying "peace". Actually, what I did would be like saying "I'm at peace with you, after you learn this little bit of lesson to respect others". Will I go to hell if I point out that God said, "walk on the earth" and not "drive"?

(More grandmother stories about humility and humanity when you click onto the rabbit hole)

Anyway, most of the time, I would give way to even an old beaten down car (with or without the matching cute old folks driving them), but practices the simple thing called courtesy by giving the signal before changing lane, even though I know that I'd get screwed driving behind it, going at the speed an old beaten car is capable of. Actually, if it is the old folks driving, I give way to them even if they do not give any signal. If at 70 you still don't learn anything on the road, I doubt you ever will. No point making their remaining life on earth uncomfortable.

I remember the day when a public bus waited for me to fold my pram, as I was struggling to do so, as I had just bought it and it needed some getting use to. My daughter then one, and the rest of the family were already in the bus. The bus did not honk, neither did anyone shouted at me to hurry up or bugger off and the bus definitely did not drive off. It just stood there, patiently, waiting for me to combat my struggle with the all to complicated new pram. I can still recall the sound of the engine as it waited for me to fold the obstinate pram. Of course, this was no where in any of the Muslim country I'm talking about. If it was in Malaysia, the bus would have left me long before I could have the time to show my middle finger. Of course not in any of the Arab countries because my idea of having a good time on a holiday is definitely not suffocating in the hijab, nor do I wish to cover my head, something totally unnecessary. It was in the UK, you know, one of the country where the Muslims call "infidels". Funny how the "infidels" show more humility and humanity than the so called righteous Muslims.

Humility and humanity, amongst many other good virtues, may lead one to noble and have good conduct. In Al Hujrat verse 13, God said;

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

"O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware."

Why should we be proud and arrogant anyway? After all, as certain as tax, death will come knocking on our door, sooner or later. What we bring along with us, is not our title, nor our worldly belongings, just us, alone. It’s not about what we have made for ourselves, rather, what we have made ourselves to become. Have we invested well in us? How far have we achieved in human development? Though there is nothing wrong in becoming wealthy materially as it is in fact, encouraged by God to do so, (don't believe me, read Anas's 'What does Quran say about wealth?') despite what the current teaching of Islam seem to portray, but if the material wealth was achieved via humility and humanity, and part of it is spent with humility and humanity, then that is best.

I realized this even more so when I gazed down with sadness, upon my husband’s dead body, all draped in white cloth, looking serene despite being disfigured by the stitches from the accident and the post mortem, as he lay to rest in the coffin. He was a doctor, came from a well to do family yet, none of that seem to matter in wherever it is he was bound to end up in. All that was taken along with him, was a lifetime of record on the deeds he had done during his stay here on earth, and the qualities he had invested on himself, how far has he evolved as a human being. No car nor house can fit into "The Land Down Under". Just that small box with you in it. Of course the "ruuh" is another matter altogether. I think we should all donate our organs instead of worrying and fighting about the method of burial of the vessel of the ruuh. It will cease to exist through a process known as decaying, sooner or later, be it burried, cremated etc. What matters is where your ruuh ends up. What better way to go then to know that you left life on earth, serving humanity till the end. After all, we are here to serve God and humanity. (Read Rapera's "This is the period to keep our humanity")

I will end my verbiage (since when I write short notes anyway?), with a little experiment for you to try. Try something new today, if it is not your common practice already, try greeting the cleaners at your office "good morning" before they greet you. Try it. You may feel a tingling sensation of pleasure coming from somewhere you had long forgotten. You'd be surprise how much a little "hi" would make them feel really nice and appreciated. They may not be lucky to be born with a silver spoon, that is why the privileged ones should at least make their lives less miserable by making them feel happy by acknowledging their existence, and helping them out however we can. If you still get that feeling of a natural high and you are not even exercising, you will know that despite all the superficial authority or power play, you are indeed human, where there is still room for humility and humanity. Peace.
(Grandmother's stories ends here)
...Click here to find out how deep the rabbit hole goes.....

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