Do not think the worse of others

December 17, 2015

There are many variations of this folk story. In Egypt, the dog is a mongoose. In Indian, it’s cat and closer to home in Malaysia, there is a variation of a bear that killed a tiger.

The story begins like this. A king returns from a hunt to find the cradle overturned and his chambers in disarray…the baby is no where to be seen. A blood-smeared dog is the only creature it seems in this room. Believing the dog has killed the child, the king in a fit of anger draws his sword and kills it.

Shortly after the dog’s dying yelp. The king hears the cries of the baby hidden beneath the bloodied sheets. She is unharmed and smiling. When the sheets are unfurled, there is a dead wolf which had attacked the child and been killed by the dog.

The King overcome with remorse buries the dog with great ceremony, yet on certain nights when the moon is full, he can still hear the dying yelp of his loyal dog.


‘It is the durian season. Last week a distraught wife of farmer came to me and complained about her so called ‘wayward’ son – she said, he is rarely at home every night. God knows where he goes every night…probably to the tavern to drink himself blind or to lose himself in the floating world of the prostitute. She even went to recount to me, when her husband came down with a fever recently – he was nowhere to be seen! For days! Day and night, he was the invisible man! And when he returns home. His eyes are like a panda as he is whiling his time at night. He did not even attend the family dinner! Even his brothers who lived and worked in the city made it a point to come home to comfort their ailing father….but not this good for nothing son!

That was when I pointed to a large rattan basket of durians mounted on the motorcycle which belonged to the son of this mother just outside their yard – I then asked, ‘it seems heaven has blessed you this season with a bountiful harvest?’ She replied enthusiastically, yes, the price for durian is exceptionally good this year! It has been a windfall for all of us. Then I took off my sunglasses and my features turned very hard and I asked of this woman – tell me which of your sons has been gathering these durians for the family when they fall day and night in the orchard? Who have you put in charge of this family orchard?

The woman suddenly looked lost and absent minded. Then as if seized by a rare moment of epiphany. An awful realization overcame her angry features like a tsunami transforming it to shame as she exclaimed – oh my god, my son has been spending the nights sleeping in the orchard in a leaky atap shed all this while to protect our harvest from being pilfered…and it is the rainy season….the poor boy must be suffering with all the mosquitoes and bugs in the wild…no wonder he is always so tired and none of us has even noticed this. As he probably doesn’t want to worry his sick father or to stress me with money – worst of all, none of us have even brought him a hot meal during his damp and lonely nights during his night watch or to even thank him for his selfless deed to guard over whatever little we own….how wrong I am to misjudge him.

That was when the foolish woman began to cry quite openly and knell down before me in supplication when she suddenly realized how terribly she had misjudged her son’s character and even labelled him as a good for nothing unfilial son before the entire village – by recounting to everyone how her son was a good for nothing, she had already soiled his name. She was so distraught, this woman even knelt down and begged me to slap her for her shortsighted and stupidity to fail to make out the obvious.

I told her in a stern voice, woman make it is your duty to right this wrong. Do not delay. Tonite before he goes out to guard the family orchard prepare a hot meal in a thermos and provision a dry blanket so that he can keep warm for the night. Above all thank him with all your heart for his dedication to his duty for doing what a good son will and must do to protect and defend the interest of his family. This is the will of heaven as a mother!

Before I left, the distraught mother asked of me – how is it that you are so young but you so very wise?

I simply told her, it is very easy in this world for one to assemble the facts to enable one to think the very worse of others…because that is what foolish people usually do – they are rash…callous and they much prefer to live in the fog of lies…I went on to advise her – seek always to live within the truth…I went on to rebuke her – woman do you see the obvious – this is the essence of of what people mean when they say, never do to others what you do not want them to do to you. This is what it means when the wise say, we can either live in heaven or hell.

Just when I was about the take my leave, the woman wailed and cried and began hitting herself to atone for her foolishness with her slipper. I promptly gave her a five chili tight slap and told her in the authoritative no nonsense tone of a landowner – begone with your childish ways. You are no longer a girl! now go to the pasar and prepare some nourishing bone soup for your most filial son (this one can do in the kampung. As it is socially acceptable. But please do not do it in Singapore otherwise you will drinking kopi with a Bengali Singh in the police station with a big moustach and probably end up sharing the same cell in Block D of the IMH with Amos Yee).

Please don’t do this in Singapore….Please. As in a plastic society, people will think your peculiar and odd.

Thereafter woman bowed in shame and fell silent…this I told her is the way of heaven and earth.’

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