Thursday, May 14, 2009

The 'Help' Dilemma

In today's big bad world, one can never be too careful about anything, more so about giving lift to strangers. Decades ago I would have opened my car door quite readily, but today I would think twice, and then some, before doing the same.

There are far too many things to consider; whether I am alone or with company, whether it's day or night, am I on a lonely stretch or the main thoroughfare, is the intended male or female, young or old, clean or unkempt.. and so on, that NOT helping seems to be a better choice.

Our paranoia about personal safety is at the cost of our own kindness. But who can really fault us for adopting this 'better safe than sorry' attitude? Losing our civility and grace is the heavy price that we pay for progress.

Each time I see a lone woman lugging a bag under the hot sun, slowly making her way to God knows where, my conscience begs to do the right thing; stop the car and offer her a lift.

Almost instantaneously an inner voice cautions, "Don't you go courting trouble. What if she is a decoy? What if someone is waiting to pounce on you once you open your car door?"

Almost always, I would listen to reason and drive on, all the time feeling wretched for letting my own self down. Why can't I just stop, invite her in and be done with it? Because I am afraid, that's why.

In October 1974, I was on my way back to Dungun to attend my wedding reception. My marriage was solemnised in Kuala Lumpur but the kenduri (feast) was held in Dungun a week later.

There were five of us in the car; N and I and three of N's brothers. This was long before the existence of highways. It was the trunk road (today's scenic route, incidentally) all the way and the journey took 7 hours.

We got to Paka, then a teeny weeny dot on the Terengganu map, about five kilometres from Dungun, around midnight. Grandma's house was just 10 minutes away, in Kampung Sura just outside Pekan Dungun.

It was then we saw what looked like a man lying motionless by the roadside. There was no vehicle anywhere near him - no bicycle, motorbike, nothing.

There were no cows either. Usually there would be many cows settling down by the roadside at night in these parts of the East Coast. It was all rather puzzling.

The brothers decided to slow down but not leave the car. It was a man alright, but he didn't look injured. They were contemplating checking the situation when N had a sudden change of heart.

He asked his brother to step on the gas, pronto. As we sped away, we looked back to the spot. There was no one there. That really spooked the hell out of us.

To this day I don't know what to think of it. One thing for sure, we never stop for anyone at lonely stretches at night anymore, unless to help victims of genuine traffic accidents (N once cradled one such victim, who died in his arms at the accident spot, but that's another story......).


14 comments:

Aida said...

Oh gee thanks Kak Puteri with sharing that bit of the scary story.... now I dunno if I can go to sleep.

Adam said...

Nek Kama,

hehe...cucu copy the satu sekolah badge ok?

yes..yes Tok Pa agree.
One School enoughlah.

Nek comelah visit my school.hehe.

bye.

Brooommmmmm....brooommm

Adam said...

Nek Kama,

hehe...cucu copy the satu sekolah badge ok?

yes..yes Tok Pa agree.
One School enoughlah.

Nek comelah visit my school.hehe.

bye.

Brooommmmmm....brooommm

Kama said...

Aida - hehehe, don't be takut. baca Ayat Kursi.

Adam - ambik sayang, opah kama izinkan, and dislay it besar2 kat your blog, ok? LOL

Naz said...

Kak Puteri,
I once stopped in Jerangau in the middle of the day. Niat hati nak tumpangkan orang kampung (I was in the car with DH). It was so hot and since we were working in that area that day, we wanted to do good to the locals. When we got to him, we saw that he had the wildest eyes we've ever seen, menyeringai sambil pegang pisau sabit :D

Salt N Turmeric said...

Dungun, byk memory kat situ.

Kak Puteri, nasib baiklah tak jadi berhenti kan? What made him changed his mind though? Do you know?

mekyam said...

i say, puteri...

this reminds me of a story i heard from my late dad abt the dungun marang stretch which he said ran straight as a ruler for miles along the beach then.

it seemed one rainy night a lorry driver had to brake for an old lady who was slowly crossing a kampungless part of that road while cupping a lighted candle.

when she was safely across he engaged his gear to continue driving. that was when it hit him that the candle couldn't possibly be lit.

he turned back to look and found the old lady staring back at him. what he saw so horrified him that the last thing he remembered was his lorry swerving into the gully and overturning.

he wasn't badly hurt but woke up delirious and in very high fever in the dungun hospital.

i can't remember details such as year etc, but i think the story was told to my parents by someone who worked at the hospital. perhaps you've heard of it too.

Kama said...

Naz - Entah2 orang kepala tak betul tak? Kalau daytime still manageable, kalau malam sah ingat hantu!

Farina - he said it just occured to him that as newlyweds,we were at a stage 'attractive' to "some things' and that he felt it was no human. by the way, he used to berguru and bertapa for silat, and pernah kena 'ganggu' by all kinds of things, so I guess it must be some kind of warning by the inner self.

Mekyam - I wasn't aware of this one tapi the haunting in Bukit Kijal memang well-known..

MrsNordin said...

Seriously?? Hee.. takut jugaklah baca cerita ni! Previously, I was just doubtful about picking up strangers becoz they could be bad people. Now I've to worry that they could be ghosts prowling the streets! I'm definitely not stopping for anyone from now on!

Pi Bani said...

I too always serba-salah if I should stop to help someone. I definitely don't stop at night and at lonely stretches during daytime, but dalam keadaan tertentu, I guess I'd just follow my gut instincts. I hope my instincts won't fail me. To me, I am more afraid of bad meaning people than hantu. Bab hantu tu boleh lagi la nak baca apa-apa patut. Tapi kalau orang jahat, kita baca apa pun dia peduli apa?!

Anonymous said...

..well part of me is having the same feeling like kak..do not simply trust..

..but our house is really on top of the hill and the nearest bus station is at about 10 - 15 mins walk..

if...we are driving..we are so used to pick up any stranger..

..and one fine heavy downpour day..
..i took a lift from my one of the neighbour..that i knew..only by the familiar face..

crazy huh!..

Ida Hariati Hashim said...

Kak Hajjah,

Eee..I baru sekarang terfikir if I would stop for a hitch hiker or not. Kesian ada, takut pun ada.

Have you heard abt how a woman was raped when she decided to hitch hike a child? It seems the child brought her home, to the lair of criminals. So she was raped. Poor lady.

mamasita said...

Just don't bother to give strangers a lift..bahaya!

Just call him/her a cab or call the police to help out! Saferr!

Anonymous said...

the only way to balik kampong was to hitch hike from Penang/Butterworth to Ipoh in my schooling days way back in 1967/8 and its the lorry drivers that would stop to not only give me a lift but also provide some makan/drinks !. in fact, i would help out with any loading/off-loading too for the lift.
there were times that i had to walk for miles all alone at night and wondered why the cars would shy away then ? guess maybe i look like a small little hantu to some hahaha.

Capt.