so on the 21st, I took Bus Number 22 into the city centre to do the shopping. The bus stopped at the Railway Station to pick up a tall, strapping young man, somewhere in his mid-thirties. He was carrying a big and heavy rucksack on his back. He also had a name-tag on a string draped around his neck.
To put it simply: he looked absolutely knackered - but he also wore a grim and dignified countenance. From his build he could have been a policeman, a sports coach or even a British Airways pilot - of someone holding a job that required authority and responsibility.
As the bus approached the City Centre, a comfortably-dressed, middle-aged English lady proceeded to the front of the bus where the young man was sitting, as she was about to get off the bus.
As she went past, she gave him a nice smile and said "Merry Christmas"
With a wan, worn smile, he replied, "Merry Christmas to you."
This was the rest of the conversation. (W=English woman; M=English man.)
W Are you looking forward to Christmas?
M Well ..... it's okay, I think ......
W It's a happy time, isn't it - sharing with family and friends.....? (and she went on and on)
M (He began to look fed-up as it was obvious he was not prepared to natter on about the joy of Christmas) To hell with fucking Christmas. All for one man's birthday. What has he done for the world?
W (gasping with shock) Oh .. oh ...
M I'm sorry, please, I apologise.
The bus stopped and as the woman got down, he wished her, "You have a happy Christmas, love."
He was a Big Issue vendor. The Big Issue is a weekly current affairs and entertainment magazine - put out specially to help the homeless......And his rucksack was heavily laden with copies he was hoping to sell - and this he will do without a kiosk or a covered stand. If it rains or snows, he will stand in the biting cold, for the sake of a tiny income.
|Figure 2 - A homeless man sleeping outside a big department store House of Fraser
|Figure 4 -The East London Mosque contributing to helping the homeless in London.
We Malay-Muslims in Malaysia, have a lot to learn from the Ummah at the East London Mosque.
|Hari Raya 2015
|Eid in Gaza 2014 (see reference to the above image)
Are the Muslims' pockets so shallow and our hearts so grudging?
Finally, an anecdote from my childhood to close this post about Christmas.
Makcik Ayik was my mother's best friend (during the 1940s to 1960s) from their days of being neighbours at Kampung Chantek, Dunearn Road, Singapore,
|Makcik Ayik and Pakcik Mat (late 1950s)
I quite enjoyed being the only child at her kampung house at Batu 10, Bukit Panjang. I remembered walking along a rickety wooden bridge across a river to get to the kampung from Bukit Panjang. Road.
That was over 60 years ago. Today Batu 10 has been gentrified and un-Malaydified to TEN MILE JUNCTION.
|BATU 10 aka Ten Mile Junction
Just over 60 years ago, on the 25th day of December, I was chatting to Makcik Ayik and I said,
Makcik, hari 'ni hari Krismas. (Auntie, today is Christmas Day)
She replied, with a quizzical look on her face.
Krismas 'tu apa 'nak?? (Child, what is Christmas?)
Looking back, I reckon my mum's good friend must be thinking what a weird Malay child I am - must be because of all that schooling!! Christmas ??!?!!
Indeed, we have come a long, long way from those dark days of ignorance!!!!
However, we're no better or kinder than Makcik Ayik's generation.
May next year's winter be happier and more peaceful than that of 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 etc etc.