Tuesday, 2 November 2021
Title: Rabbi, I Want To See
By: Stephen Wong
Here is a short fiction story inspired by Bartimaeus and his cry to Jesus (Mark 10:46-51):
My name is Chen Pei Leng, I am 14 years old, born to a family of three boys and two girls. I am the second youngest in the family and my youngest brother Weng Weng was cute and bouncy. We lived in Sungai Bakap New Village. My father and brothers were fishermen. They worked hard to catch fishes to sell to the village elders. My mom is a housewife. Pei Sze at 18 years, is my older sister, and she had studied until Std 6 before she stopped to help mom tend to the vegetable farm and cook for the family. I never went to school so my sister taught me what she had studied. I could not read or write nor could I imagine the colours of the wind. Once a while, my mom, siblings and I would visit neighbours. On our arrival each time, I could hear the neighbours’ children whispering, “Mang Mui ley chor lor.” They meant “The blind girl has arrived”. I was angry and would grumble to my sister and mom. After a while, I accepted my moniker, “Mang Mui” or “blind girl” in Cantonese. On occasions, my father would call me “tor sui kar” (or bad omen to the family) in front of my uncle who would giggle. I cried. Soon, I was indifferent to the taunts of the others.
One day, Pei Sze brought me and Weng Weng to a church. I had not been there before and was a little fearful of what to expect. We met Rev Thong and his wife Ann. There were ten or more people in the church, with kids running around. We sang some songs. Something suddenly struck me when I heard a song with these words, “I once was lost but now I am found. Was blind and now I see.”
Two weeks later, I was back in church with my sister. I wanted to ask the Rev Thong my burning question but could not say the words on my lips. How nice it would be, if I could have my sight again. That night, I was tossing in my bed with excitement and sadness. Would the Rev help me? That night, I dreamt of a group of people in white, singing the same lovely song I heard in church. I was so glad. It was the first time in my life that I had been able to see people clearly with faces. In the morning, I got up feeling on top of the world as if God had appeared to me.
“Mang Mui! I want to talk to you,” quipped my dad at the breakfast table. “You are already 14 years old and blind since you were a baby. I have no means to feed you; it is more difficult to earn enough from fishing and I am asking your older brothers to look for factory jobs in Kuala Lumpur. I will arrange to marry off your sister so that I can collect some dowry. As for you, I don’t know what to do with you. Someday, your parents will be dead and you will have no one to fall back on. I am planning to send you to a monastery to be a nun where you can do chanting and earn penance for your bad karma.” Pei Sze ran away to her room in tears. My world came crashing down. I had no words to describe my feelings. I went to bed early, hoping that I was just going through a bad dream. My mom’s hugs meant nothing to me. I hated my father.
Just as the frogs and insects began their day in an otherwise silent night, I continued my intermittent sobs and cursed myself for being born. Suddenly, a voice called out, “Leng Leng!” three times. The room became very warm. I froze and knew not what to say. Finally, I asked “Sir, who are you?” A man in a white robe appeared before me. He called Himself Jesus and told me that He had heard the burning question on my lips. He said He would grant me my request. I fell to the floor from my canvas bed and knocked my head. Where was I?
“Jie Jie, the church pastor is here,” Weng Weng was standing at my bedside. Not knowing what was happening, I dressed and went to the dining area where we normally greeted guests with tea. “How are you, Leng-Leng? Good morning and nice to see you,” said Aunty Ann. I nodded and before I could say a word, my dad soon took over. It seemed that Rev Thong and Aunty Ann had heard about my plight and had come to visit and offered to adopt me as their daughter as they had no children. “Leng Leng, Pastor Thong and Muk Shi Thai have talked to me about you. They heard that I am sending you to a monastery and want to adopt you as their daughter. They will teach you to read and write and might be able to help you with eye treatment as well,” said my dad. My heart palpitated. Will I have hope at last? I was very keen to leave home with Aunty Ann because there was an unusual kindness in her voice. I preferred to stay in a church but not in a monastery. Two weeks later, Rev Thong and Aunty Ann came to fetch me in their car. They brought along some presents for my parents. I bade farewell tearfully to my parents, Pei Sze and Weng Weng. My little brother was so sad to see me leave and planted a kiss on my cheeks before I left. It was my first ride in a car. I was going places at last.
At their parish quarters, Aunty Ann put me in a comfortable room with a bed and mattress. She spent time teaching me to read Braille text for the next 2 years. I learnt Malay and English and it was hard. She also read bible stories every day and told me about Jesus. “Jesus!” I have heard Him speak before, and told Aunty Ann what I saw and heard that fateful night. She was startled but told me to thank the Lord Jesus for answering my burning question. She led me to ask Jesus to come into my life to make my dreams complete, which I gladly did. That night, in my room, I prayed to Jesus again about my burning question. The warm feeling that I had in my first encounter came back to me for three consecutive nights. On the third night, I heard the same voice that spoke to me before. “Leng-Leng, your prayer is answered,” Jesus proclaimed.
The next morning, Aunty Ann called to me, “Leng-Leng we have some good news. We are bringing you to Kuala Lumpur Hospital for a medical check-up to see if you can be treated.” Fast forward within a week, I was in the KL hospital and the doctors confirmed that some eye parts could be replaced as there was a suitable donor. Aunty Ann kindly spent all her time with me because I was so scared not knowing what to do, eyes all bandaged up. On the second week after my surgery, the doctors unbandaged my eyes in her presence. I could see bright lights but I was not sure what I was seeing. After further eye drops, I began to gain clarity as Aunty Ann held on to my hand. There was the doctor, the nurses and my Aunty Ann. I could see. Hallelujah. Thank you, Jesus. In the distance, I heard the approaching voice of my dad “Mang Mui, how are you now?”
Thank You Lord Jesus for removing the scales of blindness from my eyes. I was indeed lost and blind once upon a time. Now I truly see with the new lenses that You have placed in me. May my life count for You every moment that I still breathe and have my being. Amen.
我叫曾佩玲，今年14岁，出生在一个三男两女的家庭。我在家里是第二年轻的，我最小的弟弟荣荣可爱又活泼。我们住在双溪峇甲（Sungai Bakap）新村。我的父亲和哥哥都是渔民，他们努力捕鱼卖给村里的长者。我妈妈是一位家庭主妇。18岁的佩思是我的姐姐，上学到六年级就辍学帮忙妈妈打理菜园，为家人做饭。我没上过学校，所以姐姐把她学过的都教了我。我不会读、不会写，也无法想象风的色彩。偶尔，妈妈会带着我和哥哥姐姐与弟弟去拜访邻居，每次我们到达时，我总会听到邻居的孩子们在窃窃私语：“盲妹来咗咯。”他们的意思是 “瞎眼的女孩到了”。我生气，会向姐姐和妈妈发牢骚。过了一段时间，我接受了我的绰号，广东话的 “盲妹”。有时，我的爸爸会在我叔叔面前叫我 “陀衰家”(拖累家人、坏兆头)，叔叔会咯咯地笑。我哭了。很快地，我对别人的嘲笑无动于衷了。
一天，佩思带我和荣荣到一间教堂。我以前没有去过那儿，有点担心不知会遇到什么情况。我们见到了汤牧师和他的妻子安。教堂里有十多个人，孩子们到处跑。我们唱了几首歌。当我听到一首歌的歌词：“前我失丧，今被寻回； 瞎眼今得看见。” 我顿然受到很大的触动。
“盲妹！我有话跟你说。” 我爸爸在早餐桌上说。“你已经14岁了，从你还是个婴儿的时候就失明了。我没有办法供养你；靠捕鱼挣到足够的钱就更困难了。我让你的哥哥们去吉隆坡找工厂的工作。我会安排把你姐姐嫁出去，这样我就可以得到一些嫁妆了。至于你，我不知道该怎么打算。总有一天，你的父母会去世，你就无人依靠了。我打算送你到寺院去当尼姑，你可以在那里念经，还可以为你的恶业赎罪。” 佩思哭着跑回自己的房间。我的世界崩溃了，我无法用语言来描述我的感受。我很早就上床睡觉了，希望我只是做了一场噩梦。妈妈的拥抱对我来说毫无意义。我恨我的父亲。
当青蛙和昆虫在寂静的夜晚开始他们的一天时，我断断续续地在抽泣，诅咒自己的出生。突然，一个声音三次地叫道：“玲玲！” 房间变得很暖和。我愣住了，不知道该说什么。最后，我问道：“先生，您是谁？” 一个穿着白色长袍的人出现在我面前。他自称是耶稣，并告诉我他听到了我迫切想问的问题。他说他会答应我的请求。我从帆布床上摔到地上，撞到了头。我在哪儿了？
“姐姐，教堂的牧师来了。” 荣荣站在我的床边。不知道发生了什么事，我穿好衣服，去了我们通常以茶待客的用膳的地方。“玲玲，你好吗？早上好，很高兴见到你。”安阿姨说。我点了点头，还没来得及说一句话，爸爸很快就接了过来。看来汤牧师和安阿姨听说了我的困境，来探望我，并提出收养我为他们的女儿，因为他们没有孩子。“玲玲，汤牧师和戴牧师都跟我谈起过你。他们听说我要送你去寺院，想收养你做他们的女儿。他们会教你读书写字，也许还能帮你治疗眼睛。” 我爸爸说。我的心跳得厉害。我终于有希望了吗？我非常想和安阿姨离开家，因为她的声音里有一种与众不同的亲切。我宁愿住在教堂里，而不是寺院。两周后，汤牧师和安阿姨开车来接我。他们给我父母带来了一些礼物。我含泪告别了我的父母、佩思和荣荣。我的小弟弟看到我离开非常难过，在我离开之前在我的脸颊上吻了一下。这是我第一次乘车。我终于要去很多地方了。