A few colleagues and I went shopping in Kuala Lumpur (KL). It was after all the Malaysia Mega Sale!! We wanted to profit from the strong Singapore dollar. So off we went, shopping, eating and hanging out, enjoying the sights and sounds of KL. I remember one particular night when we were hailing a taxi to go back to our hotel. The taxi drivers drove pass us only stopping to tell us the flat rate for the ride. What? This is obscene! What’s the meter there for? For decorations? We grumbled. Even though we could easily afford the increased rate, we did not want to compromise our principles and hence waited for other taxis to drive by. We spouted all possible comments, from the inefficient transportation system to corruption to issues of international relations. Even though fatigue grew with the night, our might did not waiver.
One of my colleagues ran to an approaching taxi, only to slam the door hard at the taxi driver who was out to make more quick ringgits. I then noticed a teenage boy standing quietly behind my colleague. Gosh, we, polite Singaporeans actually cut in someone else’s path. As I apologised to the boy, I saw a man holding on to his arm. The previously hidden old man wearing a songkok (traditional Malay cap) said to me, “Tak apa, rumah kita dekat” (It’s alright, our house is near). Only then did I realise that the old man was blind!! We actually cut in a blind man’s way! How selfish have we become? Even though our actions were unintentional, we had forgotten (even for a brief moment) that there might be others who wanted to go home too. I felt so bad and apologised to the well-mannered boy and his father. They just smiled and did not even utter any nasty words to us. If the reverse happened, wouldn’t we hurl vulgarities? But no…. the man and his son even apologised for the taxi driver. They told us to go ahead and take the next taxi. They could wait, they say.
At that point, I wanted to give the old man some money. But why? He wasn’t begging. Sure, I pitied his blind state and all. Perhaps I wanted to make him forget our rudeness. Shame on me for even thinking that money could erase ugly impressions! As I crossed the road, I saw the blind man and his son still standing patiently by the roadside. We all see but do we really see? Do we really see the goodness in people? Or do we only pretend to see when we are actually blind?