I replied, briefly, "You're most welcome, do keep up the good work," and with a big smile, I left the Chinese lady I was talking to, who is a fundraiser for The Budimas Charitable Foundation. BUDIMAS is a renown organisation in Malaysia, heavily involved in the care of orphaned and underprivileged children in the country.
I was approached by the lady who was at her Budimas booth, just as I was about to enter into the Cold Storage supermarket in Subang Parade. As our conversation ended and I made my way into the supermarket, I suddenly thought to myself about her very last sentence to me before we parted ways.
"...And thanks for listening too."
Those few words might not mean anything to some, but I took it quite profoundly for unknown reasons. To me, it showed the deep appreciation of the fundraisers to the people who actually did spare a few of their precious minutes to stop, and listen to what they have to say. I'm sure the fundraisers must have gotten so used to people ignoring them, passing by them as if they are not there.
That was when I told myself, "I think I should I thank you instead. For persevering to approach people even though mostly ignored you. For persevering to do a noble cause for the benefit of someone else and not just for yourself.". I will always have a soft spot for altruism.
Last weekend, I was privileged to be invited as the main speaker in a summercamp event which took place in Sungai Congkak, Hulu Langat. The event, called "Weekend with AJ" with the main theme, "Transformers : Rise of The Fallen", was participated by Malaysian university students from both local and foreign (ie United Kingdom and Ireland) institutions. The event was organised by a group of aspiring Malaysian students from Cork, Ireland who named their association as AtapHijau. The other invited speaker was my dearest friend, Imran Koyube, who is the current President and co-founder of the impressive ILuvIslam.
I was entrusted with the responsibility of delivering talks on 4 different topics, with my sessions being on Saturday morning and evening, as well as Sunday morning. Even though I could claim to be quite used to giving talks to vibrant youths via my personal experiences in the past, never have I been asked to become the main speaker for an event, and to deliver as many as four talks. Given the fluctuating state of my health condition, I was slightly concerned that I wouldn't be able to live up to the expectations of the organizers. What more, the organizers seemed to have done tremendous work in ensuring that the event would be a successful one, thus I know the talks must be equally impressive to achieve the objectives already listed.
Even though there were slight doubts on whether I would be able to cope given my health condition, I believed I could do this. An immense task it seems, the thought of contributing my part in developing my society just seemed an opportunity too hard to resist. A similar situation happened back in December 2009, when I decided to accept the invitation to give a talk in a winter camp event in Birmingham, United Kingdom, just a few weeks after having my high dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplant. I just love the thought of 'giving' to others, thus providing me with the strength to withhold any challenges that might come my way.
The main challenge I discovered in delivering my talk in Sungai Congkak was the travels I had to make, which had its toll on my stamina. I decided to commute to Sungai Congkak on both days of my talk instead of staying at the event's accommodation for two reasons; i)my strict diet regime makes it easier for me to have my meals at home. ii)I was worried that I might not get good rest at the venue's accommodation and thus possibly affecting my performance to deliver the talks.
Every trip would take me about 45 minutes, longer if the traffic was congested. On Saturday, I made 4 trips altogether, back and forth, that by the time I reached home that night, I was totally knackered. Tired I was, I still had to finish up the powerpoint slides for the next day's talk and I must admit, a sense of frustration almost crept in. I almost blamed it on my cancer, believing that the Mas Afzal 3 years ago, free from cancer, would never struggle with this sort of pace.
But that was when I put such negative thoughts aside, and reminded myself to be thankful to Allah that in spite of my condition, I am not bed-ridden, in fact I'm well alive and kicking. That's more than I can ask, given my state. Eventually, I opened up my laptop and got on with completing my slides for the next day. Aiysha, my dearest sister, kindly enough gave me a therapy massage of my head and shoulder just to ease the accumulating tension building in my head. Mom, as usual, provided me with the words of encouragement. That's what families are for, aren't they?
Aiysha, my lil sis.
In the end, I was generally satisfied with the talks I've delivered throughout the two days. There will inevitably be some loopholes here and there in my presentation, but these are always rooms for improvements. All I can hope for is that the participants, the youthful leaders of our future, have benefited from the content of my talks and are inspired to play their part to the society.
I wish I could tell each and everyone of them, that
If I am not letting this terminal cancer of mine stopping me from 'giving' to humanity, then what more for them, all fit and well. Let us all RISE to glory!
When some of the participants came up to me personally before I left the place and said, "Terima kasih abang," that was all that I needed to rejuvenate my tired mind, body and soul. Looking at their bright faces and witnessing the exuberance radiating from it is a therapy to the pain I suffer from my cancer. I guess it's true what they say, it is in giving that we actually receive. We receive the satisfaction in life. We receive the true meaning of being alive, that is to be of benefit to others.
And the best people are indeed those who are most helpful or beneficial for other people. Allah knows best.