Spent almost three hours yesterday afternoon commiserating with Sha, a dear friend who was in the pits of despair after being conned of RM50,000 in a business deal that proved shadier than the rainforests of Borneo.
To add insult to injury, she got swindled by someone she had known and trusted for years. To be deceived is one thing, but to be duped by someone you called a friend is another. And that was what hurt her the most.
Sha's in her early 50s, resolutely single and very enterprising. She was in the corporate sector for more than two decades, doing marketing communications (marcom) for government-linked companies (GLCs) and multinationals, before deciding to branch out on her own.
Her ad agency, one of those tiny but tight Bumi setups, was doing reasonably well servicing a coterie of clients, contacts she had made from her corporate days.
She came into my public relations sphere four years back when I was looking for an alternative, smallish outfit to complement the one I was already using, on behalf of an NGO client.
Sha proved to be reliable, her creative output commendable and her pricing decent. Most of all, we clicked and that was crucial for any business relationship, the ability to work together especially under pressure.
Sha dropped off my radar for a while after I returned from the Hajj early last year. She was up to her ears with work while I was setting out to service a newly-acquired client. I brought her in midyear for a project; unfortunately it did not come through.
When she called a couple of days ago to relate her sorry state, I suggested lunch. We met yesterday; she turned up with Shikin, her colleague-cum-housemate, and we had a sobering time discussing her company woes.
Sha's now in a fix; she has no money to roll, thus can't accept new jobs. To make matters worse, business has been slow since October last, the staff is leaving (some have left) and the bills are mounting.
She said her lowest ebb was late last year when, in the depths of gloom, she began to question why God had deserted her despite her prayers. Thankfully she snapped out of it fast she said, before her faith collapsed.
I told her that was the Devil's whisper. All he needed was a toehold in your already befuddled state of mind, and your vulnerability was the right setting for him to prod you into blaming God for all your misfortunes.
Every cloud has a silver lining, Sha. Look at this as God's test of your faith. Hold fast to hope as if you life depends on it. When all else fails, hope is all you have to keep you afloat. Don't give up.
You can overcome this. Losing your money isn't half as bad as losing your faith. Change your perception. Maybe the money wasn't meant to be yours. Whatever the case, you will come out of this a stronger, better person, believe me.
I was once where you are today, worrying about where the next meal was coming from. Worse, I had four extra mouths to feed. But we survived, and so will you. He provides, I assure you, but you will have to strengthen your inner resolve to believe in His will absolutely.
Allah swt loves you; that's why He tests you. If He doesn't, He would have left you to drift and wallow in all things 'duniawi' until the day you go. Had it been so, the consequences would be disastrous, and tragic, for you forever and more....