A Stranger Got Sick

Some time ago I was at a surau at my prayer mat to pray when I instinctively turned around to find a young teenage girl looking down at her pool of stomach contents. I watched her mom roll her eyes at her and left her just like that. My mother was a perfectionist woman who gave me that look whenever I did something wrong as a child too. The look that only heightened fear and diminished any sense of real confidence in a person. I did not want the cycle to go on.

Immediately I abandoned my praying intentions and rushed to the alone girl with my bag. I’m known as Doraemon in my family, so my bag has everything. Lots and lots of tissues I offered her and even helped her push the spew away from other people who were there to pray. We covered it with tissues. She looked confused, alone, and I can probably tell, sad.

“Are you having a headache?” I asked.

She nodded solemnly, and I offered her a mint. I happened to have a paper bag and I opened it up and taught her to scoop up her vomit (using the lots and lots of tissues) into the bag.

Her mother returned with a cleaner and pointed it to the cleaner, and she brought her daughter to the washing area where she gave her daughter another lecture. I think she briefly thanked me (or didn’t, I remember the girl saying thank you quietly though). They left, and the cleaner mopped the floor. The girl and I had picked up 90% of the gag.

There I was, about to pray, but went to clean up a stranger’s vomit instead.

I understand the mother’s probably embarrassed that this accident happened in a supposedly “clean” place so she put on a frown, and a very grumpy face. Instead of apologising to the people around her and the cleaner for having to do more job, she just walked away. She’s fed up, who knows what could be going on in her head.

I didn’t mind it at all. I suddenly remember when I was a teenager and a classmate had a menstruation accident, I helped her clean HER blood stain. I’ve been peed on by a cat and occasionally do gardening bare-hands.

It’s easier to wash my dirty hands than to have lived a life believing I was alone, worthless, and no-good to this world.

I used to have depressing thoughts when I thought about how nobody wanted to befriend me. I’m not everybody’s favourite person, I don’t have popular opinions and I find stupid jokes not funny. When I helped people nobody appreciated and the efforts I put in were swept under the rug.

But you know how I got over it?

I stopped making things about me. Wanting to be appreciated, wanting to be noticed, were all screaming ME ME ME. My life then went about how to make people feel better, and seeing things from all perspective. I understood now my wanting to feel important stemmed from me wanting to be “Somebody”. When in fact, if I relied on the truth, I would be all right. And the truth is I was a nobody. Even if I discovered the cure to cancer, ultimately, I would die and be a dust of nothingness. My death might be celebrated or mourned for a few days, and I too will be gone from their minds. A Nobody.

Knowing this makes me not expect anything at all. I just live to my best ability, do what I want to do, let myself feel whatever life has shown me to feel. It’s wonderful, really.

Make lives better without expecting anything in return. Knowing you’re a nobody makes you realise it’s not even you who made lives better. You were just a catalyst to change.

Truly, in being a nobody lies freedom.

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