As of today, I am now thoroughly convinced that having a baby with you on an outing tends to bring out the best in Malaysians.
I find this funny because when I was heavily pregnant - 8 months and dependent on a walking stick to support my failing pelvis - I honestly encountered the worst. Hobbling in the rain from the carpark to my office one day, I slipped and fell in front of a car, dropping my laptop, umbrella and files all over the sodden wet concrete. And what did the driver do? Stop and help? Nope, he HONKED at me! Yep, that's right.
Oh, and the countless times I had elevator doors close on me right before I could enter, all because I was too heavy to move faster and the rude ass in the lift couldnt be bothered to hold the door open for me! Or... the times I tried to exit a lift and streams of people just came pushing through, regardless of the fact that I was the size of an elephant and needed plenty of time and space to get out!
So... it was with genuine surprise and deep gratitude that today, I encountered not just one, but two kind people who managed to change my mind about apathetic Malaysians in general.
The first was at Ikea, as I tried to load a trolley full of stuff into my car while Zara was strapped to my chest in a baby carrier. Believe me, this is not an easy feat. She's over 8 kilos and lifting anything, even if it's 'flat-packed', is a challenge. Just as I stood there helplessly contemplating my idiocy at attempting to purchase such large items on my own, a nice gentleman came by and asked if I could use some help.
Ordinarily, being the bodoh-sombong prig that I am, I would say 'No no, thank you, I'll be fine", the way I used to even when I was 9.5mths and about to pop anytime! But this time, I knew Ikea had beat me and there was no way I could do this without assistance. And so, with a defeated 'yes, please', Encik Salihin loaded my boot for me and then went on his way, but not before I shook his hand and thanked him profusely.
I thought about this incident all the way home, and for the first time in a long time, my heart swelled with pride to be Malaysian. I felt so good I even let several cars potong me at a double line... that's how good it felt.
When I finally parked my car at home, Naz was already waiting to help unload the boot. As we discussed how many trips we'd have to make to get the stuff upstairs, another nice gentleman came over and offered a hand. I was really quite gobsmacked... TWO kind people in less than an hour? Allah must be smiling down on me today! And so, nice gentleman No 2 - Mr Raymond - carried up some of our stuff and then he too went on his way.
Back in my living room, I sat down to marvel at my fortune today. And I realised that, just from the simple acts of these two gentlemen, I had had a great day.
My perception of what it was to be a stranger, a woman, a mother, a neighbour, and most importantly a Malaysian, had changed instantly. I have always been too pessimistic about people (Rude Mr HonkHonk 10 months ago had served to cement that belief) but now I'm quite sure there are more good people than bad out there, and it seems that having a sweet innocent baby with you simply opens people up and makes you more approachable, less of a stranger.
These days, whenever I have Zara with me, I'm able to have conversations with the most random of people, and it usually starts with the phrase 'Berapa umur baby?'. And then the barriers that divide us, that made us strangers, miraculously melt away. Now if only people were that nice on days Zara isnt with me! But why cant we be nicer to each other? Why cant we hold lift doors for people and let others exit properly before we barge through? Do I have to carry a baby to have people do so? I'm sure we can all do better. As for me, I will now make an effort to smile and be kind to people every day, because who knows? Maybe I might help someone's day go from being just ordinary to just great!
Thank you again Encik Salihin and Mr Raymond for helping me angkat my barang and most importantly, for opening my eyes.