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“Empathy is about finding echoes of
another person in yourself” – Mohsin Hamid
months in the hospital, my body was still weak and my legs were still painful but I was
starting to be able to stand long enough to be transferred to a wheelchair. One
evening, my sister put me on the wheel chair to visit the nearby convenience
store located at the hospital.
she was about to leave me outside and enter into the store alone (the store was
narrow and filled with goods, hence it was not convenient to bring the
wheelchair inside), a tall Malay boy in his late teens or early twenties came out
of the convenience store. Suddenly, he stopped walking and started to stare at
me. Then he approached me.
noticed that his head was misshapen, had stitches and was dented at one side,
an indication that he had undergone a brain surgery.
He looked curious, “What happened to
you?” while pointing to my head which was covered in bandage.
I was startled by his blunt and direct
“She was burnt,” my sister replied.
could feel my sister was hesitating to leave me with this boy outside of the
Waving my hand towards my sister, “Don’t
worry, I will be OK. You can go in.”
However, my sister was still in a protective mode.
Before entering into the shop, she gave a warning to the boy.
“You can talk to my sister but
don’t touch her, there are a lot of germs.” She was not actually trying to
scare him, I was having MRSA infections (a type of super bacteria that is
resistant to common antibiotics) every now and then.
I narrated to the boy about the gas
explosion. He then asked, “How long have you been in the hospital?.”
I replied, “Around 8 months.”
Suddenly, I could see tears coming out
from his eyes falling to his cheeks.
“Don’t cry.” I said to him without
thinking and started feeling emotional myself.
I then asked, “How long have you been in
Wiping his tears away, “3 months” he
At that moment, there was a short
Although our sickness and pain may not be the same, it felt like there
was a sharing and bonding between us, a connection of suffering between 2
Trying to comfort me, and also perhaps
comforting himself, he said, “have patience”. At the same time, a woman came
out of the convenience store and he quietly followed her.
person who has suffered is able to relate and show empathy towards those who
are suffering. I find this true in hospitals, especially among the patients.
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