During the course of my job, I have met a few of them who managed to get to this city, some of them many years ago.
There was a lady who was ill with cancer and longed to go back to Myanmar, but with her condition, it was not possible. We had difficulties resolving all of her symptoms as she could not speak our language. She had a difficult pain to control, I think we finally managed to reduce at least most of it. She passed away in this peaceful country of ours.
After a few years I met a middle aged Rohingya man. He was very friendly and cheerful, both of us yet to know what was going on inside him.
Naturally as a doctor I needed to find out his social and family background. At that time I have just heard about the situation in Myanmar. So we spoke a bit more.
He felt very thankful that he has reached this country many years ago. This peaceful country is so much unlike his. “The people around me are very nice. They helped me in every way. They were there for me with every difficulties I faced. The people in the masjid took me as their own.”
He told me that the imam of the masjid married him with an Indonesian lady. “They are very nice people, I am very thankful,” he said repeatedly, with a smile on his face.
When I asked him about what is actually happening in Myanmar, he did not want to explain in detail. “You don’t want to know about the horrors that has been happening, doctor.” One of his legs was amputated, he blamed it to the oppressing side.
So I asked him, “Why is it that BOTH sides seek refuge? You Rohingya people are here, and so is the oppressing side.” I gaped at the answer; it appears that there is another side who is lighting the fire between the Muslims and the Buddhists.
But it was all behind him. He has had a happy, peaceful life here in this country, and I can say he is one very grateful man. He kept on praising and thanking Allah for giving him the opportunity to live in peace, and appreciating the people around him who became his family when he has lost his own.
Sadly he passed away not so long after that with a ruptured cancer.
A year passed and I saw another man. Another colleague of mine was taking care of him. He was found having seizures and was brought to the hospital by an ambulance. He could not speak any Malay or English, he could only tell us he’s fron Myanmar. He said he is Muslim.
So my well-meaning friend called the Myanmar embassy to ask them to help this man get a place to stay when he’s discharged later. They told her, “He’s not from my country.” But this man kept on saying that he is from Myanmar. My friend and our specialist and consultant were bewildered.
When I was on call one weekend, I told the specialist. “He’s from Myanmar, but he’s a Muslim. I don’t think they want to take him back.” He asked me why.
I asked him back, “Do you know what is happening over there?”
“No, I don’t,” he answered.
So I told him about the crisis in Arakand and how the Rohingyans were oppressed. That’s why some of them ran away.
“Oh, I did not know all that.”
“If we send him back to his country, he might just be murdered as soon as he landed there. If we wanted to do that, we might as well have not saved his life at the first place. So he’s staying here,” I gave my opinion.
Two weeks down the line, he was well, but still in the ward, getting chubbier each day. “He eats a lot now, doctor,” the nurses told me. “We’d give him extra food from other people who did not eat theirs, and yes, he could finish two plates of rice at one sitting.”
I hope he has found somewhere to stay.
* * *
I hope and pray that our country will remain peaceful.
Any racist thoughts and ideas should be nip in the bud. Although in some people, racism has put a firm grip on their hearts.
The oppressing Myanmar who seek refuge here would find that he’s treated by Muslim doctors.
The same goes in our country too. No matter who you are, where you come from, what colour is your skin, if you come in with a heart that has stopped pumping, we would still do a CPR for you. We would still try to save your lives.
And by WE, it can mean people from different colours and belief system.
Because despite whatever difference we have, we are all still brothers in humanity.