A paraplegic who finds mobility with a motorcycle. A woman who manages to find happiness despite having a lame leg. A man with a hunched back, but a heart which is straight and true.
Many of the characters in Datin Patricia Lim Pui Huen’s book One-Legged Football And Other Stories focus on individuals living with an array of disabilities.
In this collection of short stories, we find that all their hopes, aspirations and passions are just the same as everyone else’s. For certain, there’s a major gap in the market for such books, and One-Legged Football And Other Stories is also unique in the way it presents disability stories against the backdrop of old Johor Baru.
In an email interview, Lim says the the aim of the book – through its inspiring, honest and unflinching stories – is to enhance the public’s understanding of the plight of people with disabilities, and how they have to navigate an able-created world.
“I love all the stories I have written. I was inspired to write by the disabled workers of Jaro.
“The stories are set in Johor Baru and are based on people whom I have met or whom I have known, except for the story of Si Badang who was a legendary character, ” reveals Lim, who has been a member of the Jaro committee since 1989.
Johor Area Rehabilitation Organisation (Jaro) is a registered charity which manages three sheltered workshops catering to the rehabilitation requirements of the physically and mentally challenged.
“Every story was a challenge because each one presents the situation and problems faced by a disabled person, and every disability has its particular issues, ” she adds.
The boy called Dol who played football with one leg is a tale of a person's sheer will and determination, while the blind girl Jaya who could make rempah with the batu giling is another inspiring story of overcoming the odds, and the importance of empowerment.
Published by Areca Books, Lim’s book contains eight stories, including The Wind In His Face, Ripples, A Daughter Or Daughter In Law, Black Cat, Habibah’s Wedding, and One-Legged Football. Some of the stories are poignant, some light-hearted, and others thought-provoking, but all have been written by Lim with sensitivity and grace in mind.
Lim is the great granddaughter of Wong Ah Fook, a Chinese entrepreneur and philanthropist who left an indelible mark on the state of Johor.
She is also known as a established historian and academic writer, having penned the books Wong Ah Fook: Immigrant, Builder and Entrepreneur (2002), Johor, 1855-1957: Local History, Local Landscapes (reprinted, 2020) and Through The Eyes Of The King: The Travels Of King Chulalongkorn to Malaya (2009).
One-Legged Football And Other Stories is her first printed collection of short stories.
“The disabled can make a life for themselves, with a little bit of help, ” says Lim, who adds One-Legged Football is dedicated to her late husband Datuk Dr Lim Kee Jin, a physician and artist.
He and Tan Sri Basir Ismail established the Johor Specialist Hospital, which was the state’s first private hospital. Her husband also had a huge passion for the welfare of disabled people, and was the chairman of Jaro for 46 years.
One-Legged Football also contains images of the late Datuk Lim’s artworks and sculptures. All proceeds from the book will be donated to Jaro.
At the moment, Lim reveals she and Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor (renowned conservationist) are working on a book project entitled Passion Meets Compassion: The Biography Of Dato’ Dr Lim Kee Jin.