Monday, February 28, 2011

Baju Kuning

I knew a man. In fact, everybody in Tanjung Aru town knew of him. We may not know his real name, but he is a familiar face. It is no secret that this man got some mental problem. People called him the Orang Gila and Orang Sot. I just call him Baju Kuning due to his trademark yellow shirt. It has blackened over time due to his sweat. I doubt he ever washed or even changed his wardrobe. Did I mention that he wore a cheap baseball cap also? Nothing fancy, just enough to cover his head from the blistering heat. He loved to wander in Tanjung Aru town, all day long.

He barely uttered any words. The only time I ever hear him say anything is when he ordered his favourite drink. “Kopi O satu!” he would say. You see, every morning he would come into our coffee shop to have his drink. On occasions, my father would give him a piece of paper and ask him to scribble 4D numbers on it. My father would then go buy it with the hope of kena nombor” Some numbers did win but most didn’t (No surprises there). That didn’t stop my father from asking him again and again though. His reward for this would be a char siew bao, sometimes a box of cigarettes.

Mental problems didn’t stop him from completing his obligation as a man though; ogling pretty girls. He would stare at any liang mois and sumandaks (pretty ones, of course) for a long, long time. Scanning them from head to toe. This usually happens when the ladies are eating whatever in the coffee shop. Understandably, the girls would get really uncomfortable but this activity of his is harmless. He would usually just walk away after that.

I’ve heard stories about him. He was once a boss of a certain company, repairing refrigerators. He once had a wife and children but they all left him for unknown reasons. I’m no Sherlock, but that may had an effect on his downward spiral. People told me that he was once admitted to the Hospital Mental Bukit Padang and that he caused a ruckus in Tanjung Aru once by burning a lorry to a crisp.

A few days ago, I found out that this man had passed away. That day, he was doing his usual routine, walking around Tanjung Aru town when he suddenly fell to the ground. He never woke up after that. It is discovered that he had cancer all along. After I learned about his death, I became unusually sad. I’m surprised that his death had affected me. He was just a man, a mentally-ill one at that. He was nothing more than a familiar face but I felt really sorry about his fate. Why? Is it because I pity the way his life ended? Is it because I’m afraid that I’ll become like him someday? Is it because he died a lonely death, with no family members by his side? Is it because he will never come to our coffee shop again? Who knows?

This is the only picture I got of him. He would stand in this corner of our coffee shop for a long time, looking out into the distance. I may not know your name, but you have my prayers. Rest in peace, Baju Kuning. May the good Lord bless your soul.