This is certainly not in a good way. The past week has been a catastrophic one. To have bad things happen to not one, but two, of the cities I care about is almost too much to bear, even as I was having a relaxing week off work, immersed in the beautiful nature and culture of Taiwan.
April 15: At 14:50, bombs went off at the Boston Marathon, killing and decapitating people who had loved life and freedom.
When I first visited Boston back in 2001 (coincidentally, just a week before the biggest terror attack on America – 9/11), I felt instantly at home. It bore much semblance to Malacca. And no wonder too. Boston was where the first day of the American Revolutionary War began. Malacca was where the Independence of Malaya was first announced, even before Tunku shouted “Merdeka!” in the nation’s capital. April 15 – that fateful day of the bombing – was Patriots’ Day for the people of Massachusetts, it was also the official Malacca Historic City day for us Malaccans.
As we remember the victims of the bombings, dear runner friends, keep the sportsmanship and kindred spirit alive. Run for humanity, run for Boston.
April 20: At 08:02, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Lushan, near Ya’an and Bifengxia (home of the pandas), killing over a hundred and injuring thousands.
Ya’an, the Rain City, showed me nothing less than warmth and kindness that the Sun would be proud of when I visited in 2009.
My couchsurfing friend Xu Lan, now in the UK, and her boyfriend showed me how delicious fried corn was. They also told me stories of the remotest parts of China they’d been, and correctly pointed me to the last remaining village whose trains still ran on coal, which I visited of course.
Every time I feel haughty, I am humbled by the memory of the generosity shown by a grandma from a farm in Shangli, between Ya’an and Bifengxia, who offered me a burnt ear of corn, a most prized meal, saying that they were so very poor and that was the best she could offer to me, the occasional visitor who cared to stop by and play with her grandkids, who to my delight, enjoyed the chocolates I gave them.
As I remember the life lessons the people of Ya’an had taught me, my prayers are with the victims of the 4.20 Lushan earthquake, as well as with the rescue teams, volunteers, reporters.