Helping Out

I suddenly got the urge to watch Colorful again after being left in my external hard disk for about four or five years. It survived the accidental purge by a friend of a friend back in 2012 because back then, it was on my old laptop (RIP in pieces, Baby Leno). I only keep movies and series I deem worthy of personal reruns, and Colorful earned its rightful place. So, what is Colorful about?

It’s about a soul being denied to continue on the cycle of death and rebirth, but is lucky enough to be injected into a dying suicidal boy and be given a second chance, as long as he figures out what’s his greatest sin in his previous life was. The story is a solid two-hour fare full of cringe-worthy moments. The characters are unlikable. The pacing is slow and killing me inside. Yet for some reason, I was compelled to keep it. Rarely do I see logic in actions I take on impulse, but then retrospective always serve as a good friend to find clues and cues to my past behavior. And it helped once again.

Only now do I realize that Colorful has been portraying a story that holds dearly to one of the so-called principles that I believe: people can’t help other people, they can only help themselves. This is something that I found out and agreed upon during secondary school, possibly in form three or four, but definitely not during form two. It compliments the ‘be selfish in order to make others happy’ principle in some sort of way, which in turn is, only now I realized, may have been molded into shape not only by the incident in form two but also by bits and pieces of Thick Face, Black Heart that I read without understanding during year six. Yes. In order to help someone, that someone must first be willing to help his or herself first. Help extended to those who don’t want to budge won’t bring any good.

My belief in such a statement was solidified even more by events I lived through last week. I was actually meaning to write this down in full emotion drive back then, but health and time wasn’t on my side. So screw it. But tonight, the reasoning within my head compels me to once again write about it. First was about a friend in search of his identity and happiness. He was in an array of challenges for almost two years now, what with his divorce and dreams and questions pertaining life and death and faith in pending. Honestly, I don’t know how to help, but I do know that I can at least lend an ear and bounce back ideas and thoughts back to him. Man thirsts for knowledge and philosophy and recognition, no matter how petty they (man) are and no matter how petty they (knowledge and philosophy and recognition) are. So petty may it be, but petty I can give. How cheap of me. I honestly do not think he owes me anything, and I really don’t get his sudden thank you message after a brief meet-up. To me, it was all him. He was the one helping himself. I can’t help him. God won’t help him if he’s just waiting for it. But if me being me is enough reason for him to believe that help has come in the form of my existence, let it be. In the end, I am a mere reason, for man are fragile beings who can’t live without reason. Though I hope he does realize that he is not the centre of my world and I do not revolve around him. I am just a convenience, and I’m content with being one.

The other event was the *sigh* runaway of a boy from the orphanage. Reason for running away? Not liking the rules. Although it is an orphanage, it also cater to those in dire need of help, and this boy is one of them. He still has both parents, yet both are without stable jobs and can’t event keep food on the table consistently. His parents wanted him to be at the orphanage for various reasons, one being not worrying if he has anything to eat because meals are served accordingly. Another reason is that they won’t have to worry about school fees, stationary, clothes, and bus fare as it is all taken care of. The family had been kicked out numerous times already for not having enough to pay rent. His father tried to work odd jobs here and there, but he just couldn’t make it. Yet here is his son, the second out of four siblings, not wanting to take the best out of the piece offered. All that is required from him is to go to school and don’t call the other children’s father’s names. He sucks at following the latter, and is very bitter when the treatment is kindly returned by his fellow companions. The concept of give and take hasn’t been registered into his mind. His eldest brother was once an attendee, but due to gang problems and, again, not wanting to follow the rules especially curfew, was asked to pull out from the institution. Now he’s begging to re-enter but is too shy to ask for a re-entry session with the committee. Reason for wanting to re-enter? Simple. Food. That’s it. Living day to day on end without anything to eat has made him realized that those meals he had at the orphanage he had taken for granted. And what can he do now? Nothing, for as long as he doesn’t want to help himself. Helping his family out with their circumstances is a secondary thing compared to helping himself out. And now he has to learn it the hard way.

Am I being harsh and inconsiderate in this situation? I say no, but Abah says otherwise. I say let them be, for our help is futile as long as these siblings don’t want to help themselves. Abah says no, help as long as you can. I say the family will eventually grow dependent on us, further complicating their future. What if we suddenly all die, and no one is left to help them? Abah says its up to them if they grow dependent or not. They’re adults. It’s none of my business. I say the help we give numerous times (personal help in form of financial aid and groceries and stuff) is a luxury blessed upon them and they will one day sought it out as if it’s their right, not an act of passion. Abah says it is their right, for in all our luxury and wealth is a portion of theirs, for all belongs to Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. That’s basic. That’s the true meaning of zakat. Lastly, I smiled a wry smile and said as of now, my heart’s not big enough to be as kind as you and Ummi. Abah said nothing in return.

My point is, there’s no helping it if the person itself doesn’t want to or even make an effort to help themselves. With the family and the siblings, an extra point is that they lack discipline. Affection and exercise alone won’t suffice (yeah, Dog Whisperer stuff, I know) in helping them. So, should you help out those in need? Should I help out those in need?

Back to Colorful. The mother was having an affair, and the father knew about it only after their son’s suicide (or suicide attempt from their POV). What did he do about it? Did he put all the blame on his wife? No. He puts it on himself. He points the finger to his self. Such compassion, such forgiveness, it reminds me of Abah. Although in the end, when the soul helped himself, it wasn’t without the aid and compassion of others. Maybe that’s the key to Abah’s view. Helping out goes hand in hand with forgiveness. Something I had yet to attain, as I help others for self-gratification.

Oh, and the answer to those questions above are obvious. Of course you/I should always lend a helping hand to those in need, regardless. Just live with that bitter taste after seeing your help is for naught.  That’s life.


21st April 2016

Helping Out

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