Overcoming Fear

We were talking about fear the other day.

Some of you know about this incident, but for those who don’t:

This was about 4-5 years ago. My sisters and I booked a midnight movie at Summit USJ. I can’t remember which movie but it must have been one of those big summer blockbusters because we don’t watch movies at Summit unless it was something huge that would require a THX Hall for the full experience. We came a bit early to grab some dinner, and then to kill time we decided to play some video games at the arcade that was right beside the cinema.

5 minutes into playing some shoot-’em-up game two boys came rushing into the arcade followed by a group of men carrying snooker cue sticks, shouting and screaming at each other. In the resulting chaos, Aning and Ita ran to the back of the arcade and hid behind some machines (as did other people). The men managed to catch one of the boys, whom could not have been older than 15, dragged him out to the corridor and started to beat him up with the cue sticks and kicking his face.

A large circle formed around them, just like how you see in the movies, and to my horror no one did or say anything except to watch this bloody spectacle. So I pushed my way through the crowd and went in, shouted at the men to stop the beating and cradled the boy’s head to protect it from being kicked. The boy was already unconscious and his face was badly bashed in so I proceeded to give him first aid to stop the bleeding, while at the same time trying to call my friend who is a paramedic at Sunway Medical Centre to get them to dispatch an ambulance. The men muttered some curses and left and the crowd dispersed.

I went back into the arcade to find Ita and Aning since the car keys were with them but I couldn’t find the girls. When I came out, the cleaners were there mopping the blood but the boy was still lying there, unconscious and bleeding.  I pleaded to one of the uncles who was manning the push carts selling trinkets at the side of the corridor to help me carry the boy to the car so that I could take him to a clinic. The uncle said he would get the security guard to come, and they did and they carried the boy away  He didn’t have any shoes or bags so there was no identification.  I gave the guards my business card and asked them to call me if they could not find the boy’s family.

After that I went to the restroom to clean up the blood. When I came back and joined Ita and Aning in the queue to enter the THX hall,  I could hear people around me excitedly talking about the beating.

Then I noticed this guy with his girlfriend, both were staring at me. I looked back at him and asked, is there a problem? He glared and proceeded to scold me in a very loud voice that I should have minded my own business and let the boy got beaten up. The girlfriend nodded in agreement.

I was so shocked that for a a few seconds I just looked at him in disbelief. Then I said to him, if you would like to just stand there and watch like it was a spectator sport, that’s your problem. But don’t you dare tell me what I can and cannot do. He said something in return but I didn’t know what it was coz I turned my back to him and went into the cinema.

I don’t know what happened to the boy. I hope he is fine. I don’t know why he was beaten. He could have committed a crime. He could have just been an innocent bystander who rubbed another in the wrong way. Who knows?

My work and the way I live my life had taken me to many places and many unusual circumstances. I rely on the kindness of strangers, on the off-chance that the majority of the people are inherently good.

Still, what I saw that night was a  shameless display of apathy. I know that fear can stop people from doing many things. And it’s not so much the fact that they just stood there and watched that disgust me, it’s the fact that my helping the boy was seen as a bad thing, that I was interfering.

I hope I will never become one of them.

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