The man under the flyover

Every morning, I stopped near the junction at Jalan Mesjid Negeri and Jalan Air Itam on my way to drop my boy to school.

Before I continue, lemme rant a bit about traffic police. Sometimes, it is so frustrating with those pek kha tay. They don’t have a fixed time to start their work.

Sometimes, they never come. Sometimes, they come early but only start to close the right turn from Jalan Scotland to Jalan Race Course after 7.30 am. Sometimes, 7 early 8 early, even if there is no heavy traffic from Green Lane heading towards town, they will also stopped us from making a turn and allow the oncoming cars to go non-stop.

At times, I kwai lan, purposely stopped and wind down my window and shouted, “Tuan….kasi pusing lah…cincai lah…kalau tidak, kena U-turn jauh” They always ignore me. But it is shiok to kacau them a bit.

You see, there are two primary schools and most of us parents who are coming from the direction of Tanjung Bungah/town will make a turn into the racecourse area to go to our kids’ schools. But these traffic police makes life difficult by closing the turning in lane from as early as 7.20 am though the traffic from the other direction is not even heavy yet. It is like they must be seen working or probably they enjoyed having the power to stop traffic?

When that happens, I need to drive further down and make a U-turn. That’s when I see this man without shirt, covered with laterite dust and almost camouflaged by the dirt sleeping. He would huddle, probably due to the cold and sleep close to a concrete pillar. Usually, when I stopped my car near the Girl Guide Assocation (or is it boy’s scout?), I will be able to see him.

At times, the traffic light takes a while to change and I do feel like snapping a photo of him.

But then, what’s the point?

What does that picture says? What will people think of a man sleeping half naked, on the red earth ground, without any baggage around him?

Some who thinks the world is a rosy garden will give their smart aleck opinions why the welfare department doesn’t care about them. They will bla bla bla from the comfort of their homes.

Some will probably pity him and maybe say a prayer for him.

For me, I am jaded to these sort of things. There will always be a few people like him. Though we want to be compassionate, some of them are just happy the way they are.

Do you think the welfare never take care of them? They do. The problem is some of these people like the freedom. They escape when nabbed by welfare. Sometimes, they are placed in shelter homes and though their meals and shelter are provided, they will slipped back to wander around.

There may be some kind and genuine religious bodies who are all out to save these people for the extra brownie points for themselves. Yet, like Jesus said, the poor will always be with us.

I suppose it is a part of this world we live in. Maybe that person never feels the hardship of lying on the hard earth, sniffing in dust and listening to the drones of traffic all night long.

Maybe he exists there by his own choice.

I don’t know. I could alert the Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat. They will send their rescue unit to help this sort of drifters. But the cycle goes on. Another will take his place. And another. And another…..

And if you are one of those people who wants to play the good Samaritan role, don’t. Some of these are mental patient and they could easy strangle you to death if you provoke them.

I had followed the Welfare Dept. on their rounds to rescue homeless people and the officers are all trained and they know all the beggars like old friends. They know their backgrounds, their problems and the past, present and future of these people.

So, what do I do? Well, when I see him, I pointed out to my boy who is sleeping cosily at the back of my car with his bolster and Gingee. He would put up his head and take a look. The first time, he said, “Mom, we must pray for him right?” Ya, ask God to protect and shield him from harm. And what else? Be thankful for what we have.

Now, we just say, “Oh there he is…sleeping so soundly.”

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