I met Kurt in a trip to Taiping, Malaysia 2015. Kurt was an eight-year-old gracious boy who was pretty mature at such a young age. We bonded quickly the moment I was settled at the back of his grandma’s car thanks to Nico – my travel teddy bear that I always fastened him on the side of my backpack, because Kurt wanted to get to know him through me.
It was a spontaneous decision that I was glad to have made it to Taiping where I had experienced the warmest human relationship in the whole trip to Malaysia. I first went there to visit an orphanage homed to Malaysian Indian immigrant kids. Thanks to a good friend’s reference, I got invited to visit and stay over his friend’s place (Mrs. Dinah’s) in Taiping who owned a stable and is Grandma of Kurt. Leaving behind my first plan to see Cameron Highland – a well-known attraction to any traveller who showed up around the area, I decided to stay and help at the stable.
Mrs. Dinah came to pick me after the visit at the orphanage, I got into the back seat and found Kurt reading his book there. My first impression of Kurt was a polite and shy kid, however, being a kid himself, he was very curious about my presence as well as Nico’s. I wasn’t sure whether he could speak English or not so I didn’t say much except “Hello” to him. After being asked to behave in front of a family friend, Kurt said “Hello Auntie” to me and then asked for the teddy bear’s name immediately. Arriving at Mrs. Dinah’s place, Kurt was excited to show me around the house and also introduce me to his fatty cat, then he showed me the room where I would stay which had a shared built-in bathroom with Kurt’s room. There were only Mrs. Dinah, Kurt and a maid living in the house, regardless of my curiosity about Kurt’s parents, I didn’t want to ask too personal questions. Kurt was now familiar with my presence so he liked to run back and forth between my room and his thru the shared bathroom to play and talk to Nico.
When he was about to shower, he went to my room and informed me about the event so that I would know not to use the bathroom while he was in there. Upon his finish, he came wrapping up in a tower and asked me to help pick his clothes for tonight. I was surprised that he independently did almost everything, we then settled on the dining table and he already set the table with plates, spoons and forks for us.
The next morning, I followed Mrs. Dinah to help at the stable and so did Kurt. After being told about today tasks, I got to work with Kurt’s help. He stayed by my side most of the time, Kurt helped me clean horse cages and wash feed bins. I was afraid of the horses at first, worrying I would get on their nerves and get my ass kicked; Kurt showed me how to stroke the horse and kiss him.
When we had a short break, he took me to eat ice-cream and explore small corners of the Lake Gardens aka Taman Tasik Taiping which is the first public garden established during the British rule in Malaysia. He also taught me to count in Malay so that I knew how much to pay to the food vendors. We roamed around to the kid playground for Kurt to join with his peers in the slide house.
His requests always melted my heart:
Auntie! Can I jog with you to the park? I will not complain or feel tired on the way!
Auntie! Let me take pictures of you!
Auntie! Can you hug me? I’m afraid of the dog.
Auntie! Where will you sit in the car? I will sit next to you!
Auntie! Can I sleep with you and Nico every night?
Auntie! How long will you stay with us, auntie? I want you and Nico to stay with me.
The following day, which was also my last day spending with everyone before heading to Penang, we went to join a charity activity organized by the Rotary Club in Taiping, of which Mrs. Dinah was the former president. Thanks to this event, I came to learn about Rotary – a global network with many opportunities offered to make the world a better place. I was also introduced to many of Mrs. Dinah’s friends and got to listen about their dedication for the common good. Kurt was by my side most of the time, even though his supposed-to-be “girlfriend” was around and wanted to play with him. I told the adults I could look after them so that they could focus on managing the event. Kids love being photographed and so did Kurt and his “girlfriend”, they tried to shoot photos of me also. Time passed by, the event was about to finish and it was also time for me to leave. I had avoided telling Kurt about my leaving until we were in the car sending me to the bus station. Kurt was in tears when I got off and said goodbye, he didn’t tear up like a baby, but with all of his effort to stop his eyes from watering, tears just kept dropping from his innocent face, which pinched my heart a little inside.
I didn’t understand much why I had such a connection and bond with Kurt, but now jotting down these words and reminiscing about that time, I’ve come to realize that Kurt and I have shared some commons about our characters and our childhood that we were both brought up by our beloved grandma in the absence of parental care. No matter who he is about to become in the future, I sincerely wish life will be fair and nice to Kurt, and that he will become a good, happy and kind person.