My father's friend passed away last week. He was my friend too, although I never seemed to realize it. Nobody in this world noticed his presence upon this planet, until the very moment he died. When the news spread everybody was overwhelmingly sad, because he was indeed a very kind man, whose contributions never seemed to matter before.
He was a very quiet man, with a humble character, and that should explain his previous state of being unacknowledged. Nobody cares about him before.
He worked as a contractor, tending to the wood works of houses , the bricks and the foundations. Among the last works in the last days before his death was two mosques in my place, which he and his men built with eagerness and full spirits. He made a lot of money, but his clothes were never new, and his house was always the small old house his parents left him. He used his money to support his brothers and their families , while he himself never got married. A very generous man, the highlight of his generosity was when he loaned his money to so many people, all of whom have a tendency of not paying back.
Why am I telling you this?
Seeing him with torn shoes and a very worn shirt was a very common view, it became his trademark. But then, nobody cares about him. He was a maverick, yet he was never lonely. He did not have any children, yet he had the biggest family-although not of humans. This guy had almost 40 cats at his house,-or so my uncle told me- he took care of them and fed them every day. No, seriously, he had almost 40 cats. Forty . Those cat lovers out there can officially give this man a posthumous cat award. Don't misunderstood me my friend, he was not a creepy loner with an obsession with cats-which is so normal with you people. His place was more like an animal shelter. He would take stray cats home and feed them, those poor kittens without moms. This is a guy who loves cats, in a society which regards cutting off cats' legs as a fair punishment ,should they steal a fish.
I don't know if you still take him as a regular non-existent man, because he really was. Once , his nephew tried to kidnap those beloved kittens and throw them somewhere else. I don't really know why; perhaps the cats took his motorcycle seat as a scratching mat. This is a common practice in my town, where we 'share' unwanted kittens with neighbouring villages , or just dump them at fish markets. I did this once , when the number of cats exceeded my house's limit of ten, and I am very ashamed with myself-but I can assure you that I placed them in a place where them people adore cats. When his nephew dumped his cats, he was outraged and shocked, and he went to look for the cats , only to be dismayed by the fact that some of them kittens were already dead. God, this is heartbreaking.
My uncle told me that this man frequented a warong for his lunches, and he would take some fried fish and put them in his shirt's front pocket. He brought those fried fish home and fed his cats. It was weird enough for hard labourers who strived under the heat of the day, doing the harshest of works, to have an affection with cats, and to put fried fish in your pockets for them is like super odd.
His friends took to a liking to tease him about his simplicity-an extreme simplicity. He rode an old bike, wore old shirts , while he was never too old himself. This is an age where the government gives rebates for smartphones, but he never felt a necessity to own even a simple brick phone, until my uncle bought him one, for ease and communication's sake. I mean, what do you do if you have a lot of money? The law of marginal utility stated that we would spend and consume ,pilfer and drink, until we reach the point of the least satisfaction-which seems non-existent. Yet the wonders of this world never seemed to fascinate him, and he remained simple with his family of cats.
We have a congregation in my place, where men and women gather for religious activities, charity and gotong-royongs . Them people are very active and passionate with their works at the local mosque, and they are the strongmen who worked for PAS (Parti Islam Se-Malaysia) without any pay, all sincere and true to their hearts. This resulted in a victory in the recent election, after all the hard work, night and day. We never noticed that this man was always there; at every gathering and venues, to offer a helping hand and to volunteer, as he was always quiet ,and he kept to himself. We never noticed this , until the moment we saw his face at the graveyard.
He died last Saturday, after experiencing chest pains at work. He was sent to the hospital, and passed away a few hours later. He left without burdening anyone to take care of him in his sick bed-alone as always. He even rejected offers to send him to the hospital by his colleagues, in fear of being a nuisance. His death was so quick and easy, unlike the chinese guy who had his stomach burst open on the road this morning. That left me wondering ; why did good men die so early?
This man left almost forty orphaned cats and an old house. Farewell, good sir,defender of cats and children alike; May Allah bless you and your soul, and may He grant you the blessings of Jannah.