One in the morning and JB Sentral was buzzing still with returning Malaysians from the Lion City. Me, however, was left starving with probably 60 RM in cash and the three ATMs I tried couldn’t dispense the damn money. Ugh was I not bummed out waiting for my next train from JB to KL to depart, which was in 7 hours (which ticket I also had not bought btw) and the only socket to be found was this dirty corner behind a vending machine. So there I sat my worries and thinkable fears next to my brown dora the explorer-sized bag.
Not a long time after my epiphany, this old man emerged from I forgot where, Southeast Asian-Chinese looking, walked towards me and we began exchanging words. Long story short, he’s a stranded Minang in Malaysia looking to return to Padang since months ago. I can’t recall perfectly the exact reason he fled Indonesia but having lost a lot of things from his loved ones to money recently, he struggled to return. All he had was his passport, an old address in Bukit Tinggi and like a sketch of his address, and….an ounce of hope for someone to help him return to Indonesia. That hope was this broke dude, unfortunately.
My leftover cash was then used on a plate of Indian meal that was open near the station. I was grateful he seemed beyond happy and for the first time after a long week I felt somehow content. After hearing plenty of his stories, in thick Malay accent speaking Indonesian, he then proceeded to ask me if I was willing to trust this Minang grandpa and spare him some bucks to go back home. God I hated how JB Sentral didn’t have a proper wifi so I could simply move money to my other bank acc that night or that the ATMs there worked with my card – the universe either hated me or my humanity was sincerely tested. That was inconvenient. So my problem multiplied from surviving the night with a starving tummy and purchasing my ticket to Butterworth and Bangkok, to now helping him to return on a good faith. I chose the latter.
The dawn had arrived and my back was screaming from another night spent on hard-ass, freezing floor near toilet. Malaysians were starting to flock into Woodlands and the shops are starting to open. All I wanted to do was run there to ask for a personal hotspot and help me this poor man. I worked my charm fast and I got it, so I rang my friend in KL to book my train ticket coz…..he kinda owed me back in Jogja months before so yeah. Ticked resolved. The old man was fed. Now some money from my other bank account – also resolved. I made sure I transferred enough for him to return to Bukittinggi. He insisted I left him my phone number. And that we grabbed our last meal of Nasi Lemak there before I departed.
I hopped on my train and was seated next to an old Chinese-Singaporean couple heading to KL only to….pray at this church I forgot. We spoke about their kids and bits about me. My train from KL – Butterworth had engine problems on the way there and that we had to stop and walked in the middle of nowhere in West Malaysia to the rescue train – but this was another drama to share. All I cared about that time was that the old Minang grandpa made his way back to Padang, Indonesia (don’t I sound like a saint here?).
A few weeks after, I settled back into my normal working student lifestyle in Jakarta. I noticed a text from an unknown contact saying thank you for helping him and that he sent money back to my account (though I’m still not sure to date how he got my acc but he did). Anyways, morals of the story:
- It could have been my parents, my grandpa, or my friends, or me in a foreign country
- Have the balls to ask for help in every opportunity.
- An opportunity to help doesn’t always present itself, when it does, be sure to lend all the hands we have.
- I miss travelling it hurts.
- I should have captured the moment when I could but I was too tired.
K adios now. Sampai jumpa 🙂