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As I Was About To Leave The Ladies Bathroom..


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How often is it that we stopped to acknowledge the ones working behind curtains. The cleaners, gardeners, security guards. The ones who are important to us and yet goes unappreciated in modern society. Well, user Jean Vaneisha shared her tale on Facebook. An encounter with a lady with a big heart which touched many Malaysian hearts.

She writes:

As I was about to leave the ladies bathroom at noon in NU Sentral, an elderly voice chimed behind me as I cleaned up the last of my used paper towels.

“Ma’kasih cantik,” she said, eloquently in an Indonesian accent. In English that would roughly translate to “Thank you, beautiful.”

Startled, I spun around. A woman grasping a mop, painted with honest eyes and a warm smile, heartily laughed at my confusion. “I get a lot of people who leave things lying around expecting me and my co-workers to clean up after them,” she explains.

“That’s a very affirming habit Ma’am, but how do you know it will make a change?” I respond. By now, I’ve set my bags down and leaned against the counter to listen to her story.

“I believe that every small deed you do makes a change,” she continues.

“Ah I see. Do you have children?” assuming that she does this because of a motherly background.

“63 of them, my dear, back in Malang, Surabaya,” she smiles widely. Seeing me baffled once more, she begins to divulge her story. Her eyes grew teary.

“My own son died when he was 32 years old. I felt empty for a long time. So I took it upon myself to take care of the orphans back home after the incident. Sometimes when I can, I stay with them in the orphanage and I hear them crying for their lost parents. When I leave, I cry for their pain too.”

“The money is alright here, praise God. I send back all that I can to help with the upkeep. Sometimes I buy a cow for the children to have a good feast.”

“Be thankful. I do my job as best as I can and I try to spread awareness of being thankful all the time. I clean the prayer room too. I don’t understand, you go in to do your duty to God, why can’t you be responsible enough and keep the linens properly once you’re done? What’s the point of claiming to be disciplined if your actions speak otherwise?” she dialectically advises.

‘Kalau dilihat cantik, pastikan diletak balik cantik selepas diguna iya?’

I stayed in that bathroom for a little over a half hour just listening to her story that she so openly shared with a stranger. I’d been calling her Ibu the entire time, a respective title the young use for older Indonesian women. Right before she had to leave for her next shift, we exchanged names. And a hug.

“If it looks pretty, make sure it’s pretty after use.”- Ibu Sunarti


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