On Monday afternoon, I had to bring Waz1f’s bicycle for repair at Centerpoint, Bandar Utama. The bike had been in my car since Sunday. Luckily the car’s heavily tinted, none of my officemates noticed I brought a bike to work.
The sun was scorching hot when I set out that afternoon. When I reached Centerpoint, there was no available parking space near the bike shop, so I had to drive down to the basement and found an available spot that, to my opinion was rather ‘challenging’. For those who know me pretty well, I’m famous for my 16 points turn. Yeah, I like fast cars, but I suck big time at parking.
Then I saw an Indian man with a wet cloth in his hands approaching my car. He helped me park in the difficult space with hand gestures and of course, his confusing head-shakes. When I got out of the car, I saw that he also had a pail of water and other car wash equipment on his bicycle that was parked near my car.
Then I had to get Waz1f’s bike out of my tiny Jazz. I struggled with the handles that were suddenly stuck with the head rest. The Indian Man offered to help and managed to get the bike out of the car safely, no scratch on my Jazz (that’s very important!). Having a closer look at him, I noticed his under nourished look and the very old pair of slippers he had on.
He offered me to ‘walk’ the bike to the shop that was one floor above. First, I declined and tried to ‘walk’ the bike on the ramp, but when you’re in your 3” heels and have a tight skirt on, it’s quite impossible. So, the Indian Man helped to carry the bike.
At the bike shop I thanked him profusely and that’s when he asked,
‘Mau basuh kereta?’ from the accent I knew he’s not a local Indian. I knew my car was rather dirty, but I was skeptical to let him touch it.
‘Kakak mau basuh tak?’ he asked again. Thinking of his assistance, I felt indebted, so I said ‘yes’.
‘Kalau mau, bayar sekarang.’ He held out his bony right hand.
‘Berapa?’ I asked while taking out my purse.
‘Berapa-berapa kakak biasa,’ he shook his head.
I took out a RM10 note and gave it to him.
‘Dekat rumah saya selalu lapan ringgit,’ I waited for the RM2 change, but he continued shaking his head.
‘Dua belas la kakak,’ he showed the RM10 note plus his two fingers.
‘Cinabeng, tadi cakap berapa-berapa. Ni nak demand pulak,’ I swore silently. Isy, bulan-bulan puasa pun nak kena menyumpah jugak.
‘Okaylah, nah lagi dua ringgit,’ I decided not to bargain. He helped me with parking and the bike; maybe those were chargeable, too.
‘Terima kasih.’ He smiled widely, showing a line of his yellowish teeth. Then he quickly left, I thought he was going to wash my car straight away. To my surprise he ran towards a ‘nasi campur’ stall nearest to the bike shop. I watched him buying his lunch and he paid using the money I just gave.
That was when it struck me that he could be one of the people who ‘kais pagi makan pagi’. That could be his first meal for the day, or worse, could be the first after a few days of starvation. I’ll never know.
Some 30 minutes later, when the Ah Pek was done with Waz1f’s bike, I brought it down the ramp (with great difficulty, I tell you….) I half expected to see the Indian Man washing my car. He could have fled, who knows. He was polishing the rims when I unlocked the car and opened one of the passengers’ doors to put the bike in. The Indian Man signaled me to step aside and he placed the bike properly on the folded seats.
Noticing his packed lunch on his bicycle, I asked:
‘Dah makan?’ he shook his head again.
‘Belum …. Belum….’
Before long, I was already speeding along Sprint Highway heading to Jalan Semantan. Frankly speaking, I was not satisfied with his workmanship. The car was far from clean when I inspected it. Many spots were missed. He didn’t even wipe the number plate and some parts of the skirting. Maybe it’s because of Ramadhan, or maybe I was so in touch with my softer side that day, I was not feeling angry at all. Maybe that afternoon I realized that I helped to save another human being from hunger. We, Muslims are fasting for about 13 hours daily this month, but there are people who are fasting until they get their next food.