This is a very old piece I wrote 7, 8 years ago after visiting a soup kitchen and then joining the other volunteers to hit the streets and distribute food packets to the homeless people. That experience caused me to ponder how people (including myself) most commonly ask “Why me?” when undesirable things happen to them, but not so much when they get the better end of the deal in life. So I thought a paradigm shift might do myself good, and I should start asking “Why me?” when good things happen instead.
This post has been pre-scheduled. But looks like I will be having wifi connection quite regularly during my trip! 🙂
It was raining heavily the other night. I was pleased because that meant a cool night at home, curled up under cosy comforters with a good book and music running from my computer till my eyelids decided it was time to call it a day. Concrete walls filtered the roar of the thunder and rain, making it sound like a distant calamity from which I was sheltered so well, cocooned in the haven called home.
The nasi lemak (rice cooked with coconut milk served with hot, spicy, and sweet sauce, anchovies, hard-boiled egg, and cucumber) seller at the street corner outside had to be content with his makeshift stall, and at times the wind threatened to blow the flimsy plastic roof off. He had not anticipated the rain and storm and was therefore clad only in a thin T-shirt and pants. It must have been pretty cold out there for him.
And what about the homeless mentally-challenged woman I used to see wandering around the suburb where I live? Where would she be seeking shelter?
Down in the heart of Georgetown, the elderly trisha riders would be sleeping in their vehicles as for many of them, that was what they called their homes. They probably had to find some spot where the wind would not feel so harsh. What about those suffering from rheumatism, surely the chill and moisture in the air would aggravate their pain?
Why them, and not me?
I was having dinner the other day with my cousin. My aunt had prepared a sumptuous meal for us, and the portions were so big I found myself thinking of whom I should invite over. There were huge assam (tamarind) prawns, a baked eggplant to be savoured with authentic kampong-style sambal belacan (a hot and spicy dip made by pounding or blending chillis, tamarind juice, sugar, salt, and shrimp paste), cuttlefish and hard-boiled eggs in hot and spicy sauce, stir-fried vegetables with a generous sprinkling of fresh tiny prawns, and a fried fresh water fish so huge, it had to be cut in two.
We did not manage to invite anyone over, and had such leftovers I decided to bring a lunchbox to work the next day. My generous uncle had also sent a 5 kg packet of rice over from his rice mill.
One woman from the drought-stricken Hebei province in China wrote that the weather decided where from or how their next meal was going to come. More often than not, they reaped less than what they had sown.
Closer to home, under-privileged families from the squatter areas downtown make do with simple meals of mostly vegetables as meat would be too expensive. Their rice has to be rationed carefully to make it last as long as possible. One teenage girl shared that she only has two meals a day – there is no breakfast for her as she is not attending school, her siblings eat at school under the food subsidy program for the poor.
In a world full of extremes, why do I keep finding myself on the better side when we are all basically the same?
I shake my head and feel pangs of emotions at the suffering of others. But the person at the other end of the spectrum of life could have well been me.
I do not know why God has chosen to shower such grace, mercy and favour on me. One day I will get to thank Him face to face, and I will probably ask Him why.
In the meantime, I hope that the next time that limping beggar with the gaping wound on his leg approaches my table at my favourite eatery, I will remember the simple fact.
That the person at the other end of the spectrum of life – could have well been me.