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Sunday October 20, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Sunday October 20, 2013 MYT 9:10:31 AM
by dr chris anthony
Love’s labour: A Bangladeshi worker in a farm in Selangor. Migrant workers work very hard to earn enough money to support their families back home. Some employers treat them well but others are unkind and uncaring. — Filepic
This is a true story of a young migrant worker whom our reader came across a few years ago.
MR Z was a 36-year-old unskilled worker from Bangladesh. He had been employed in the same company for eight years. He was paid a basic salary of RM500 a month and, if he worked hard enough, he could take home just over RM1,000 including his overtime claims. He sent most of his earnings to his wife back home for her maintenance and that of his only son who was two years of age.
For about five months, he was unwell, and sought treatment at various government hospitals. He then presented with acute complications and was admitted to a private hospital where he was found to have advanced colon cancer which had spread all over his body. Surgery was not possible and all that the doctors could do was to palliate the symptoms. He was told he had just months to live.
On realising that he was inflicted with a deadly disease, he broke down and cried incessantly, saying: “Please send me back to Bangladesh. I want to see my wife and son.” He continued to weep, repeatedly saying: “I don’t want to work, I don’t want the money, I just want to see my wife and son. Please send me back.”
It was heart-wrenching to see the young man cry bitterly over his totally wrecked life. Money and wealth, the pursuit of which brought him here, did not matter to him anymore. All he wanted was to be reunited with his loved ones. Only that would bring him solace in the remaining days of his life.
According to Z, during his eight-year tenure, he went back to Bangladesh just once, three years earlier, to get married. After just two weeks with his wife, he left her to return to Malaysia to continue with his job. His repeated requests for leave to visit his wife in subsequent years were rejected by his manager, whom he described as a “man with a plastic heart”, because according to him, the boss was devoid of any feelings of compassion for the workers.
Even when his son was born, he was not allowed to return home for a short visit. His son was then two years old and Z had yet to see him.
All I could do was to recommend that he be sent back home to spend his final days with his loved ones. This we managed to do with the help of his new manager who was more concerned and caring.
Z was so happy at the mere thought of going back to his parents, wife and young son. Little did he know that soon he would be going back to his son for the first and last time in his life. His young wife too only spent two weeks with him after they were married. In a matter of months, he would have to bid them the final farewell.
Z was just a poor unskilled worker but he touched me by his gesture of coming back a week later to thank me and bid farewell, on the eve of his departure to Bangladesh. As I shook hands with him and wished him luck, I felt sad as I knew that I would never see him again.
It is sad that there are people like Mr Z who pass through our lives. They are slowly dying, and all we can do is stand by helplessly and watch them go. We may not be able to cure them but we can at least heal their souls of pain and agony.
It is very sad that many of us, especially those in positions of power, fail to appreciate the feelings of the people under our employ, and continue with an inhumane treatment of them.
If we look around, we will realise there are many Mr Z’s in our midst. It is our “plastic hearts” that have caused so much agony to them. All of us possess this “plastic heart” at some point in our lives, which we must try to discard and replace with one that has more compassion and empathy.
We often proudly claim that Malaysians are compassionate, kind and generous, but are we really?
Tags / Keywords:
Lifestyle, Heart & Soul, unskilled, migrant, worker
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