Will You Give Me Rest?

The Kapok Tree!
I had a field day in the Sungei Buloh nurseries on Thursday with Andy & Nita, picking the best looking plant for the balcony of my apartment. Well, I picked up several plants in the process & even managed to talk Andy into nursing a beautiful red fern for me in case it died in my hands! Naturally, on our way there, we talked about plants & trees. Upon passing a what-seem-to-be a linseed cotton or kapok tree, I thought about the uses of those fibres hanging out of the pods. In the primitive days where stones were used in place of pillows, where did pillows come from??? Seems like a question a child would ask the parent, where did everything come from??? I began to hear God speaking to me, “How I made you, I thought about what you would need….including your pillows, yes, the smelly pillow of yours that you still have since I gave it to you on your birthday. It’s made of kapok for you to hug & sniff & not trigger your sinus problems. I thought about your bolster too & your security blanket that you refuse to throw away. Now you are looking for fleece which I also made for your enjoyment & comfort because I knew you are so finicky about your sleep. I made the kapok trees grow in villages where the inhabitants would be able to harvest the fibres & make pillows for themselves each time the pods fall to the ground. Excessive kapok will be made into pillows for sale. I’ve thought of everything because I love you…..and you….and you….and you.”

Oh my God. What would I do without You. And my smelly pillow. Then it brought to mind, a trip I had organised last year. I thought I had it all planned when a world famous marine naturalist, who asked me to marry him, was coming diving with me. No, it wasn’t for the prospect of marrying him. It was for what I would learn on the trip being his buddy. Together with a gentleman who was also hot on my heels, who seem to be hoping to hump everything in sight & dear Lawrence of Australia & his pillow. Lawrence brought along a brand new polyester fibre pillow because he has to have a proper pillow to sleep on. He wasn’t going to trust me, neither would he trust the resort which is nestled in a world class diving location. Okay……I’m travelling with a bunch of eccentrics here….

Until of course, the trip went horribly wrong. Mr. Famous & Mr. Popular had been assigned to the same room. I thought that was nice but not being able to share a room with me caused both to behave funny. This was what Lawrence noted, for he, had to share a room with yours truly & constantly reminded me that he didn’t want to be in the line of fire (Hence, I found out that he’d packed a pillow along.).

During the dives, I encountered the most unprofessional, discourteous, discriminatory & dangerous dive leader I’ve ever known. And I know many. I got accused of doing a decompression dive on purpose & he shouted at me right in front of other divers which of course, led me to fire back. The manner in which he said it, belittled me, my profession & my integrity. It demonstrated his lack of knowledge for decompression theory & physics, & shows contempt for safety practices. He even challenged me to make a call to the owner of the resort (a friend of mine) to report him on the spot. He has no regard for Asians in the way he segregated Lawrence (Chinese Malaysian), & in the way he spoke to fellow dive leaders as I’d observed. He is outright rude, uncouth & a Mat Sallehs’ A55 – kisser for the tips as far as I can see. There were no proper dive briefings & even the orientation was improper. This dive leader in question has no clue to the local dive sites as he’d been working on a neighbouring oceanic island. I ended up knowing the sites better & leading, as I’d dived the area more than he has. Fine. What has become of my holiday?

On one of our dives, we were delayed for 2 hours while we stood there at the dive station all ready in our wetsuit. Finally when the boat arrived, it was ferrying petrol & after off loading, the boat stank & we were just wondering if the remnants would damage our equipment & wetsuit!!! Mr. Famous had to sit on 4 petrol tanks while carrying all 3 of his cameras & I got the brunt of his displeasure which I had nothing to retort because I highly recommended that place in the first place. He kept reminding me that in his 34 years of diving, this was the first time he had to pay for a trip. Oh no. What could be worst than a famous tantrum?

Everything seemed to have gone wrong. The resort was overbooked & checked two guests into the staff quarters, one of the Italian couple got bitten by a scorpion on his bed, a Latvian got stung on the foot & swelled up like a Michelin tyre. I’ll spare you the rest. It was my most depressing trip of all time. I knew my reputation was going to go along with all these problems associated with the resort. Then on one of the night dives, after I had assembled my gear, God asked me to stay. Oh alright. Night dives were my favourite….. What was I going to tell Arnis, Janis & girlfriend(Latvian guests I met at the resort)??? Oh well, I have to meet with the Almighty & I had to think of something really quick to say…..

“Here, you take my torch, my shaker, my stick & use my equipment if you like, I can’t go. I have to meet with GOD.”

And no questions asked, they proceeded with the shore dive without me. I got back to my room & had a cold shower (the water heater doesn’t work) before stepping out into the darkness of the surrounding beach. So I said to God, “Lord, what do you want me to do? What do you want to tell me?” I sat down on the sand with my torch beam starring at a hermit crab. I tried to take a photograph of it when I heard some sounds & seeing shadows, a voice said to me, “Apa kamu buat?” (What are you doing?). The silhouette of 4 men were barely seen but I began a conversation with them anyway. Then all of us sat down, encircling the hermit. I couldn’t see any of their faces as there was no moon that night. One of them happened to be the owner of the boat which carried the petrol earlier in the day. The other was his boatman. Another was a boatman from the neighbouring resort & yet another was a fishermen in the village. There were no signs of threat & I had no fear being surrounded by strangers. We talked about God, life in the islands, meeting my match & staying away from Dive Masters. By then, the hermit had quietly made its escape from our ring. Three hours went by. It was absolutely great. I got to understand a bit about the fishermen culture & life in general for the islanders. I was truly floored for being counted as worthy of sharing the hopes & heaviness of the locals of another world. I asked them about what they cared for in life, the things that mattered most to them as fishermen & what could a city girl like me do to help them improve their standard of living.

It was hard to say goodbye when we called it a night as I knew I wouldn’t be seeing them again. If it wasn’t for the responsibility of taking care of my group, I would stay on talking with them till morning. I got into the room & woke Lawrence up in the dark. I shared with him what had happened. He was just hugging his pillow. Oh, well, I asked him what he was going to do with it when we leave as he was on a connecting flight back to Australia when he goes back to KL. He said he would leave it behind for the resort. Then I suggested to him, why not give it to the porter who carried our humungous bags for nothing??? He was a very dark gentlemen who laboured in the sun carrying & transporting divers’ bags. He wore old clothes & had no shoes. He must have been from the fishing village. And so it was.

The next day, we were scheduled to leave. The dive manager presented me with a pink cap & a dive T-shirt as gesture of goodwill for all the unpleasantness experienced in my 5day stay with them. Since I don’t wear caps, I decided to give it to the porter along with Lawrence’s pillow too. There was a big smile on his face when he received the cap from me & when he took the pillow, I’ll never forget what he said…..”Terima kasih! Saya belum pernah memiliki bantal seumur hidup saya! Malam ini saya akan tidur lena! Terima kasih!” (Thank you! I’ve never owned a pillow in my entire life! Tonight I will sleep well! Thank you!) And tears rolled down my cheeks.

Then the King shall say to those on His right hand, Come, blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you took Me in; I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me. Then the righteous shall answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, and fed You? Or thirsty, and gave You drink? When did we see You a stranger, and took You in? Or naked, and clothed You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and came to You? And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, In as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you have done it to Me. Matthew 25:34 – 40
Category: Personal
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