Thursday, August 02, 2007
a moment from heaven
Just some hours ago, I was having lunch at a coffeeshop in Jurong West when something unusual happened. I was thinking to myself at that time-wondering what kind of country is Korea, is it like Philippines, Jarkarta..the places that I was the last few months, where I see poor people around? That I have to be careful with your belongings wherever I go? or is it like Singapore, a first-world country where even dish clearers in coffeeshops wear gold jewelry? (dish clearer with gold jewelry walked past) I remember David once told me that in the wealthy lanes of Tokyo Shinjyuku, once a while you can see a man digging into trash at the roadside for food. I wonder if I would see such a sight in Korea, a poor hungry man in the midst of LV, Chanel, Burberry bags thronging the busy streets. My thoughts swifted to my broken Chanel compact this morning, when someone tapped me on my wrist and broke my thoughts. Before me was this old Malay woman in a flowery sarong who brought her food before me, and so she was to share with me the table for her meal. I was about to finish my chicken rice then. I saw what was laden before me was a plate of rice with abit of sambal chilli, a half piece of salted egg and a small bowl of bittergourd soup. She limped off to get her drink after she put her food down. I looked at her food, and looked at my almost finished food. I had chicken, cucumber, and soup.. She had only a half piece salted egg. So little. Can't be enough. My heart went out to her. I felt like crying when I looked at her little food. But I did not know what to do. Buy her food? Give her money? Will she accept? Will she be angry? Will it become a dramatic scene in the coffeeshop like those chinese drama serials where kind-hearted souls get scolded by the 'beggars'? Just when I was debating in myself the best way to love her, she returned, limping, with a glass of plain water. I tried not to let her know I was looking at her and her food. Then she walked away before I could catch her glance. I was about to finish, my Pepsi twist still left with a quarter. Maybe I should get her some chicken, place it beside her plate and walk off? Too late, she was back. I continued to suck hard deep into my Pepsi twist, and smiled at her weakly when she plunged herself in the seat opposite at our table. I really had finished my food and drink, but I had not bought her anything. No, I could not just walk off and be ignorant and pretend I did not see what I saw. "Don't ever save on compassion.", Holy Spirit spoke. But giving her money or buying her food will just shock her offguard, I argued. I decided to talk to her. I asked her if the food was enough for her, offered to buy her more. But alas, she could not understand English. I was biting on my Bahasa. I could only tell her her food was too little in Bahasa. She could speak a bit of Hokkien. So she got the dish clearer with the gold jewelry to help translate. Hokkien? My, I tried my best. I told the dish clearer in my best Hokkien that I want to buy food for the Malay woman, what she was eating was too little, " wa(4) buay (4)" But the Malay woman rejected, she said the food was enough for her, "kam(2) sia(3)". Still, I could not just walk off, though I had really finished my meal. I reached for my wallet, wanted to shove 5 dollars in her hands before I go. But I was afraid that she would not accept it. Sigh. "Don't think too much, just give.", Holy Spirit spoke again. The Malay women was mumbling something about 2 to me, maybe she was saying she needed 2 dollars, maybe her plate of rice cost her 2 dollars, I was not sure. Alright, I got it. She might reject 5 dollars, maybe not 2 dollars. Last move, I placed 2 dollars in her palms, asked her to eat more in Bahasa and went off. She smiled and said "kam(2) sia(3" to me again. While walking off, I did not turn to look at her again. I was thinking if I see her again, I will give her more each time. How nice if we could have a hearty meal together some day. God's will that we sat at the same table today. God's will that she had made my day, like how I might have made her day too.