Thursday, January 22, 2009

Old Guy

Old Guy

While waiting for my car to be repaired, I decided to take a quick breakfast at a Mamak Stall. When I got there, a little Chinese old man gestured to me to sit in front of him, and so I did. I have no idea why I did that, thought at the time I thought what harm could it do?

From what little conversation we had, it turns out that this Uncle lives in Jalan Ipoh, and every morning he'd hitch a ride all the way to Jalan Chan Sow Lin. It wasn't much of a conversation, since he didn't answer most of what I asked him but instead offered random bits of information. Like how Chinese New Year was 5 days away. Or how everyone should carry their IDs with them or risk getting arrested.

He also gave me the low down on public transportation fares. RM4.70 gets you on a bus to Seremban. RM70 is you take a cab. RM30 used to take him to Singapore where he used to work. But that was pretty much all the conversation we had, which he kept repeating, like how old folks are wont to do.

A hard-boiled egg cost 70sen at this mamak, so my new friend tells me. He then asks if I would treat him to one, to go with his Roti Canai and Kopi-O Ais. I obliged, of course. After all, how could you refuse a face like this. I did, however, evade when he casually hinted that no one had given him any Angpows for the Chinese New Year. I also took evasive action when he mentioned that he'd like a Chicken Rice lunch later. I thought that perhaps Uncle had identified me as his sucker of the day, for the day. (What can I say, I'm both cheap and cynical!)

When I got up to leave, I decided that I would pay for his whole breakfast and so I gestured the Mamak Guy over and asked him to charge me for Uncle's breakfast as well. But Mamak Guy would have none of it. Turns out that Uncle gets his complimentary Roti Canai and Kopi-O Ais from this Mamak Stall. Every single morning.

It humbled me. And completely restored my faith in mankind. Also made me feel pretty shitty about not buying him a Chicken Rice meal and an Angpow. (Although I rationalised that it was not CNY yet! Heh!)

Perhaps I'll try and bump into him this New Year and maybe give him an Angpow. And if conditions permit, a Chicken Rice meal.


  1. this made me cry. i find it so sad that we have old somewhat senile guys like him wandering our streets. and trying to get a free egg or a free meal here and there. and a few bucks. where are their kids, or family?
    you reminded me, last chinese new year, i met a man just like him at a political party's open house lunch. he happened to sit at my table. there were other strangers at the table but they ignored him.
    he and i. we had some small talk. then he asked me for 1 ringgit something for his bus fare. said that taxi fare is expensive. i gave it to him. i hope he's okay.
    wishing you a blessed chinese new year james.

  2. There are plenty of lonely old people around. Makes you wonder what their story is. Blessed CNY to you too, Someone.

  3. Aih.. this story reminded me of an old man, my ex colleagues and I helped. I went to fetch my ex colleagues for dinner and ended up, chauffeuring an old man to his old and dirty apartment at the Pekeliling flats.
    He said he has been sitting on the pavement in the sun, after he fell and couldn't get up since 1 pm and nobody helped him. The time I fetched him at 6 pm, he was already reeking of urine smell because he couldn't get up to pee so he peed in his pants. He kept apologizing for dirtying my car.
    We bought cans of biscuits to visit him the next day. His neighbours told us, he has a few children and none of them came to see him since a few years ago and he was left alone here, with his mentally unstable brother.
    It breaks my heart to see an elderly man being treated this way..ungrateful little bastards he had.

  4. god bless you gina for your kind heart.