Every time a bed was emptied, it was either the patient had
been discharged because he had recovered or that the person had lost the fight.
Usually, it was depressing.
But what struck me most during the time I spent with him in
the final moments of his life was that people were essentially the same.
They may come from different backgrounds, religions and
races but they hoped the best for each other.
There was no time or reason to squabble over communal rights
or petty politics which often divide Malaysians unnecessarily. Certainly, they
had no time for politicians who tell us to unite as Malaysians and then spew
racist rhetoric at their yearly party conferences.
At the hospital, the doctors and nurses treated everyone the
same. No one got special treatment because of his race. The doctors and nurses
were efficient, kind and patient.
We always have our priorities wrong, especially when we are
healthy, young and energetic.
We often have the mistaken belief that our achievements are
the result of our own abilities and hard work. There is always the smack of
But fate and faith have a way of coming together. Through my
late father-in-law, I got to know some of the patients. Not all of them
personally, but their stories.
Many of them suddenly found time for God. My father-in-law
was no different. Having lived a tough life, he was a cynic. He used to pass
sarcastic remarks against God when he was healthy. And certainly as a
non-believer, his heart was sometimes hard.
But as the cancerous cells ate away his body, he began to
realise that every day was a miracle in his life. Each sunrise was a bonus.
No longer did he ask to see miracles before he accepted God.
He came to terms that he had been blind to the daily miracles taking place
He also began to see and realise who the sincere family
members, relatives and friends in his life were.
It was his wife, whom he had often taken for granted in his
early years, who now cared for him. She accepted patiently the tantrums of her
Not many people, including relatives, turned up at the
hospital bed. After all, there was no inheritance.
One family member came to my home and chose to watch the
Astro movies, even as he knew that it would probably be the last time they
could be together.
But my father-in-law found God. It had taken him a long
time. Much too long, I would say, but he did.
He began to understand the importance of learning to be
close with God. Everything else was now secondary.
As he found God, he also found many sisters and brothers of
the same faith, sometimes total strangers, visiting and praying for him.
Certainly when he passed away at the age of 59, he was much
calmer. We could see that in his face.
But it doesn't have to be that way for us. All religion
basically preaches good values for mankind.
In our own quiet ways, without having to claim credit and to
show others, we pray for the goodness of everyone.
But even the faithful, including this writer, stumble in our
daily lives. We do things that we should not be proud of, sometimes hurting our
family, friends and colleagues without realising it.
Worse, many of us like to think we have been faithful based
on how often we pray.
This would include people who seem pious through the way
they conduct themselves, but readily steal public money.
The trouble with most of us is that we fear men rather than
God. We choose the people we want to know, refusing to believe that all people
It is only in our final hours that we realise the presence
of God and that He has been watching us.
The past one week has seen Malaysians of various faiths
celebrating their various religious festivals. We have certainly been blessed.
To my brothers and sisters in Christ, I wish all of you a