cakap cakap….It takes a Chinese…..
Selamat Pagi Malaysia,
Two decades ago, when I was staying in Bangsar, something happened to me that has not left my mind until today. I was then staying in Bangsar Permai in Jalan Tanduk and had to get a hammer and hardware stuff to do some work around the unit I was staying in.
Together with a friend who was at my place visiting, we went to the hardware store in Lucky Gardens. As we walked into the store, my friend looked at me and told me that he will do the buying. He knew what I wanted, and he walked up to the counter.
He spoke in Chinese to the Chinese behind the counter and asked for a hammer, some nails, hinges, and brackets – exactly what I wanted. In a few minutes, we got what we wanted and was back in the car heading back to my place.
I knew what my friend had done for me. He is Chinese, the hardware store guy behind the counter is Chinese, and they spoke in Chinese. And what my friend was doing was to give the impression to the Chinese behind the counter that he was buying the hardware stuff for himself, and he, a Chinese were buying the stuff from a Chinese… so he knew he would get a better deal than if I, a Malay, was to buy the stuff myself from a Chinese.
He was not being a racist. The Chinese behind the hardware store counter was not being racist. And I, too, by allowing a Chinese to buy the stuff I wanted from a Chinese hardware store, was not being a racist. Those were the facts of life in Malaysia.
As far as I and my friend were concerned, we did what we needed to do to take care of one another. How many of you have found yourself in a similar situation? And how many of you did for one another what my friend and I did for each other that day – which is to take care of each other no matter what?
That is how I lived my life when I am in Kuala Lumpur. I never take these kinds of situations personally. I accept that these were the way things are and our commitment to each other (my friend and I)… a Malay to a Chinese and the Chinese to a Malay is simply this…”I got your back brother”.
And then in whatever way we can, to the best of our ability, we will go on with our lives accepting these realities and at the same time, doing all we can, ourselves, with our family and friends and anyone else we can get onto the bandwagon….doing all we can, to change things quietly but surely. We try to do the right thing by everybody.
Of course, this is not possible all the time for at times when we see these kinds of things you want to hit back at the perpetrators of these racial slights. Sometimes a confrontation helps to put the message across that racism is bad for all of us.
Sometimes a confrontation only makes things worse. We will never know the good or bad of the things that we do, but I and my friend know this much. When we walked into the hardware store in Lucky Gardens two decades ago, we both knew what we had to do to take care of each other’s back.
My friends, we need to take care of each other. Try and do this quietly without upsetting anybody else, but do it! Do it, one friend, at a time. Do it without hate, without any thoughts of retribution. Do it, knowing that it takes all kinds to make this world what it is.
If I have just one friend like that Chinese guy who took care of me in that Lucky Gardens Hardware store two decades ago, then my life, and his, are the better for it. Be good. Do good and be nice to one another.