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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
The Value of Life Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Shireen, Malaysia Jan 17, 2008
Peace & Conflict , Human Rights , Health   Short Stories
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The old, frail man had been brought to the general hospital. I am not sure how he landed there but the nurses said he was found at an LRT station and no one knew who he was. Above his bed, his name was written as UNK which I later came to realize stood for unknown. He did not speak or respond to anyone. He stared blankly into nothingness, no expression on his face.

When I arrived there, he had been operated on. On his bed, there was no pillow. At meal time, tea and bun was placed on the eating tray in front of all the patients but there none was placed in front of him. I wondered if it was a cost-saving measure because nobody would be paying his hospital bill when he left.

It made me think of the value of life.

It made me wonder what people’s lives measured to in terms of length, money and quality. That man surely did not wake up one morning and find himself on the street. He must have had a mother once, who would have given him a name even if no other earthly possession. Did he marry and have children? I don’t know. The same way I don’t know why and how did he end up on the street.

At the other end of the ward, is a 19 year old boy. I know that boy, he once studied in my home under my mom. I even remember him from hours before he landed on that bed. He had come to my house to pick up his cousin. It was the eve of August 31, the day Malaysia celebrated its Independence and ironically, when he was to lose his.

When he came to the door the night before landing here, I remember what he looked like and what I said to him. I remember the bright orange jersey and the always too baggy jeans. As he stood there, I remember thinking how many labeled him as ‘naughty’ and a write-off but courtesy of my mom’s years of educating him, he had been nothing but respectful, humorous and sweet to the girls.

I remember the funny statements he made. And, I sadly remember the last thing I had told him before he left though I still don’t know what prompted it. “Whatever you do, be careful when you go out tonight”. As he left, I reminded him, “You must promise to drive carefully tonight”. Something in my stomach didn’t feel right and I called out to him again, “Drive carefully”, I said.

Obviously, he had a moment that night when he had forgotten what I had said. That night, he had landed in the accident. He was brought to the ward unconscious, intensive head injuries and badly hurt. It’s been 4 months now, most of which he never left the Intensive Care Unit, and he has not barely regained consciousness. The visitors have tapered off, all gone back to their pressing routines and schedules which demand their attention, with the exception of one has not left his bedside, his mother.

It is heartbreaking to see how he is now. A massive operation has been done on his brain and a portion of the skull removed. There is a dent where the doctors have removed the piece of skull and a gaping hole in his neck through which he is intubated to remove him from the ventilator. Everyday, he is fed liquids through a tube. He has become a shadow of the healthy and cheerful boy I knew.

I pray for a miracle as I think more seriously now about the value of life.

I also reflect more now of who I am and what this life is about. I reflect about how we take so much for granted. It’s insane how life can take a sharp u-turn whether or not we are watching. Yet, how we so easily turn away from hope and absently walk away from love.

I try to learn from all that happens around me and the mistakes that I have made. I try to think less about me and more about others. I would like to consciously be aware of the Master and not to be absent in the lives of family, friends and loved ones.

I hope that everyday of my life I will learn to seize each moment. I try to remember that we can’t win every time and if we lose, we should not lose the lesson. I pray that I will remember everything is not meant to be easy and happy because this is not heaven, yet.

I pray for the faith to see the good in others and everything even when things are particularly difficult and more so when they don’t make sense. I have learnt that life is not a fairytale but it is my life story so might as well make it memorable. I also still trying to learn to understand that love means not coercing people to fit into our squares and circles but loving them into being the best they can be.

I try to understand that this is the Master’s master plan and the blueprint of my life is done and designed by scarred hands of one who loved me too much to let my life spin out of control. And, most importantly I hope to never forget that the road to the resurrection is also the path of the cross and the light shines behind the wood that hung the Master not before it.

As I write this, I hope that I have shared with you the value of life as I see it. I want to share with you the deep meaning of life that goes beyond you and me, our dreams and difficulties, our love and heartbreaks. I hope we never forget that this life is worth it because it is paid for in blood. When things are beyond you, stay still in the presence of the Master and hold fast to the conviction that you are held secure in the scarred hand of the Master.

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Writer Profile

Being an Indian living in Malaysia, I am proud of the culture that envelops me. There is so much in me that reflects a different art of living and the fundamentals of just being caught up in moments.
I am grateful to God, to the universe, to my parents, grandparents and family for preserving the traditions in me. With a world racing to be modern and sophisticated, simplicity and culture is a fading treasure, eroding with the birth of new-found philosophy.
I do not believe I am any of the better writers. There are so many more talented people around me that I admire and I aspire to learn a lesson or two. I write, simply, so that the universe that inspires me will be better appreciated. I write so that the unique culture, values and rich tradition that I have inherited will at its very least be known to you.
We are all here for fleeting moments and there is so much to be done in such a short time. Too much to see, too many people to love.
I thank you for flipping through this page and taking the time to look at my poem. If it touched you in anyway, I am grateful in more ways than you can imagine.... Thank you everyone and I wish you well.

Value of life
Dr. Bremley A. B. Lyngdoh | Aug 17th, 2008
Shireen, thank you for your article. I too forget to sieze life evry moment..as I take for granted or simply don't pay attention to the most basic of things.. Your article made me tap myself mentally as a reminder that I must never take life for granted. Thanks. Hope youa re having a good and productive time in Australia.

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