What’s your name? asked the restaurant’s manager that was manning the cash register.
I smiled and told him. He repeated it while he was punching the machine, trying to commit it to memory. As he handed me the change, he wished me Selamat Hari Raya and I wished him the same in return. I glanced at my watch, it was close to half past 3am.
I was at the restaurant because a friend came over to loan me some video games. He didn’t just loaned me those, he also brought a wireless controller with rechargeable batteries, the charger and a gift – a pink mouse. I forgot the hand strap, he said, referring to his suggestion that since I have this habit of holding my mobile phone as I am walking, I should strap it to my wrist.
Another friend is coming tomorrow to help change my light bulbs. I asked him if he wanted to have sahur with us and he said not even a nuclear war would be able to wake him up that early.
I put the change in the pocket of my shorts and walked out. As I glanced around, I saw one of the waiters having his supper. It was white rice with fish curry. He ate it with gusto, like it was his last meal, and he ate it quickly so that he could go back to work. He ate it like it was the best white rice and fish curry that he’s ever had in his entire life.
Life is hard yeah, but you live it as well as you can and you take pleasure in the little things that you encounter along the way. Knowing the name of a frequent customer, having a good meal, doing an honest day’s work, changing a friend’s light bulbs, making me squeal like a 13-year old boy who just saw his first underpants when my friend revealed that he brought the battery charger too – a lot of the things that make you happy is actually about making other people happy. A lot of our well-being is about the well-being of others.
It’s not true that it is each man for himself. That’s just selfishness talking. If anyone ever tells you that, if he uses the line “It’s my life,” as a defense instead of a statement, then you need a new anyone. Because if you look around you, you will see unselfishness and gratitude everywhere. The people who care will not say nasty things about you. They will not be indifferent. They will not take your existence for granted. Instead, they will be the ones who will roll up their sleeves and ask, what do you need?
I don’t wanna spend my time tilting at windmills. Fighting against or for someone who is not there. No more.
Because you see, if you want to be there, you’ll be there. Voluntarily. Without coercion. In any which way you can.
And if you don’t, not even a nuclear war could make you.