Would you care if you have never been cared for? Would you love if you have never been loved? Would you give if you have never received?
Erin was such a blessing in life. She came, heaven-seat, a catalyst of joy. But, her departure was too abrupt. Should I share her gift of love and of life with others? Or should I selfishly keep them to myself? What would you do, if you were in my place?
‘’I am sorry, Puan,’’ the doctor dropped the bombshell. ‘’We have exhausted all our resources. Your daughter is brain-dead.’’
His sombre words ripped the very core of my heart apart. I stole a glance at my only child, hooked by countless tubes and wires to the life-support machine. She seemed so frail, almost ethereal.
‘’But, Puan,’’ the doctor added. I looked up hopefully. ‘’Is organ donation is something you might want to consider?’’
* * * *
‘’No ! ! !’’ I screamed as Erin crossed the road home. Erin looked up, just as a huge lorry zoomed past. ‘’Bang ! ! ! ! !’’ I stood transfixed to the ground, replaying the scene blow-by-blow until it reached the ultimate finale. Erin gaily walking across the road she had grown to trust; a smile etched across her angelic face. Then, the lines of confusion as she glanced at me. Terror, as she saw the chariot of death. Her body fell gracefully, arching to perfection. It was all over in a matter of seconds. After all, what chance did a ten year-old stand against tones of metal?
She came from paradise perfect, God’s masterpiece. And she should return to the Creator unblemished. But, what would Erin want me to do? I have seen a retired swimmer putting his son through the paces. A mother sculpting her daughter’s hair neatly into a ballerina’s bun. No, we are not trying to orchestrate their lives. We are not even asking for a second chance. All we want is for them to carry our unfinished hopes and dreams. In this case, is this my wish for her, or her wish?
I walked away. Footsteps reverberated throughout the desolate corridors, making me aware of the absence of Erin’s pattering ones.
‘’Mummy, when can I go out to play?’’ I stopped dead in my tracks. Erin had asked a similar question a couple of days ago. Curiosity got the better of me as I headed towards the voice.
‘’When you get better, dear,’’ was the reply.
What came next was truly unexpected. ‘’But when will I get better?’’
That was the voice of an innocent child asking for another chance at life. At such a tender age, the world was supposed to be her playground, not her torture chamber. I saw her mother clad in a white tudung enveloping her in a tight embrace; she had no answer to her daughter’s simple question. But, what if I have? Only that I refuse to?
I ventured further. I saw children of diverse ethnics awaiting their sentence. They are all on the waiting list for organ transplant, the doctor on duty told me. ‘’But organ donors are hard to come by,’’ he sighed. I bit my lips.
‘’Children have the amazing ability from recover even the most severe form of illness. They show incredible resilience,’’ the doctor continued as we came to the play area. A few children were playing there; listless yet not without satisfaction. Again I noted, they were of different walks of life. Something tugged at my memory.
‘’Mummy, what is 1 Malaysia about?’’ Erin had questioned after returning from school. I looked straight into the clear eyes of my inquisitive ten year-old, desperately extricating remnants of a newspaper article I had read a few days before my memory.
‘’It is derived from the founding tenets of our nation, based on principles of acceptance, meritocracy and equality. A clarion call for all Malaysians, irrespective of races and religious beliefs, to unite as one,’’ I bombarded her mind with words beyond her comprehension.
‘’No, that is not really what 1 Malaysia is all about,’’ She indignantly stated. I stared at her in disbelief. ‘’What is it then?’’ I inquired.
‘’It is all about love. From loves come understanding and acceptance. There is a need for us to love one another without prejudice. We are truly 1 Malaysia only when we are a nation of love,’’ Erin spoke with wisdom beyond her age.
Simple words, yet indelibly profound. True, I agreed. We will not discriminate if we love. We will share the abundance of this land of milk and honey if we care. Then, we will lend a helping hand; made one by a common value of love.
‘’Just listen, and love, mummy,’’ Erin had said with conviction.
And so I did. I listened to the world’s conscience – to my own moral compass. I listened to the anguish of children in devastating suffering. Above all, I listened to the cry of humanity.
The world has evolved. It used to be much easier to understand. When the question was just – do you love or hate? Now, the question is : Who do you love more – the people out there, or your lifeless daughter?
I signed the consent form.
Erin had given me her gift of love and of life. It was only fair that I should share it with others. All around me, I witnessed miracles taking place. A blind Indian boy viewing the world for the very first time with Erin’s pair of bright eyes. A Chinese girl, scorched beyond recognition by the fury of fire, getting a brand new lease of life. The very same Malay girl, now able to embrace life as it is.
From then on, there was a strong sense of belonging and of compassion. I watched a single harvest of love transcended all racial barriers. Communities united. And I witnessed 1 Malaysia unfold; propounded by Erin’s theory of love – her gift of life.
In retrospect, I began to comprehend – there is nothing that love cannot do.
By: Esther Hor Shan Lin