Friday, July 18, 2014

#MH17

It is with great sadness that I write this post about the recent plane crash tragedy of MH17. I first got wind of this piece of news last night at about before midnight Malaysian Local Time. I had just gotten home from supper (for those whose cultures are different, supper here meaning anything eaten after dinner) with some friends at Nasmir and was looking forward to sleeping. However, I decided to check my facebook newsfeed and to my surprise, news about another MAS plane crashing started flooding my newsfeed.

I’ve got to be completely honest with you; when I first saw the news, I didn’t even bother to read it. In my mind, I was telling myself, ‘Here we go again.’ There was not much empathy in me at that moment. I told my dad, who was about to retire for the night and he shook his head, feeling sad at such grave news. I did the same. It was a shame that so many lives were lost just like that. I then chucked that into a little dusty corner of my mind and went to bed.
How many of us are like that? I mean, I can’t be the only one right? I’m being completely honest here. We hear so much news like this and we shake our heads and proclaim our grief over the internet and then get on with our lives. I’m not condemning this kind of action – we’re only human after all. What more could we do anyway?

Then this morning, news broke out to the local radio stations and newspapers. As I was going to work, I listened to the radio announcer talk about the recent (not so recent) updates of the crash, and suddenly I felt a pang in my chest when she spoke about teams of psychologists and counsellors being sent to the airport to console the families and friends of the recently deceased. I started tearing. At that moment, I told myself, ‘I’m glad I’m not on that plane.’   
Thinking about it even more, I came to the assumption that that flight’s 295 passengers would consist of a lot of graduated students as the graduation season just happened. That grieved me even more. Such young people with aspiring dreams – their lives cut abruptly just like that. And when you think about their anticipating families waiting at the airport, it crushes you.
When I landed on Malaysian soil and walked through the departure gates about a month back, I saw the excited, happy faces of my parents and relatives who came to welcome me home after about a year of being abroad. It was an extremely joyful feeling – the kind where warmth seeps into your body from where your heart is and a smile that instantly lights up your weary face after having gone through two connecting flights of 7 hours each and waiting anxiously for your luggage to turn up on the conveyor belt. Now these 295 passengers would not get to feel that joy, and the waiting families and friends would forever grieve this day.

I hope the officials would be able to clear up what happened to the plane. To play the blame game is very childish and irrelevant right now. What’s really important is we find out what actually happened, and that the bodies of the deceased be returned to their families for a proper burial.

So far I do not know any friends or family that are on that plane, and I am grateful. I cannot imagine myself attending their funerals and living my life without them. But that will happen eventually (that’s a whole other story to tell). However for those out there who knew the passengers, my deepest condolences to you. I truly cannot comprehend the pain and anguish you are going through right now, but my thoughts are with you. And for those who were supposed to be on that particular flight, but for some silly reason did not get on – count your blessings. Be thankful that you woke up late and missed your flight, or that the traffic held you up from reaching the airport, or even something meagre like accidently exceeding the baggage weight limit and missing your flight, whatever. Thank your lucky stars, God, Buddha, Allah, some higher being up there, or yourself, and go hug the people you care about.

What I would want for you after reading this is to reflect a little on how you felt after hearing the news – be honest with yourself; did you really feel sad? Or did you feel how I felt when I first heard the news? Life is full of surprises – some big, some small, some good, some bad. You wouldn’t want to be thinking during your final moments of living, about how you’ve wasted your life by not doing anything meaningful for yourself or for somebody you care about. Don’t take your everyday, mundane life for granted. But you already know this don’t you? It’s really cliché, but sometimes it’s the most cliché things that ring the most truth. I guess perhaps that’s why it’s a cliché, huh?

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