Diatribe, divine mango trees and 2 newfound brothers

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I received a message from Ganesan Ramiah, my Facebook friend on Thursday, wanting to share an amazing experience he had in the midst of the whole Perlis Mufti-offending-the-Indians fiasco.

The incident he related was about two Malay men living in the same neighbourhood as him, who came to his house, requesting for some mangoes. Apparently, they were preparing for a feast in their kampung.

As the mango trees growing in Ganesan’s land were divine trees (they were planted as offerings to the Gods), plus the fact that the trees stood next to a shrine, he advised the two men that the mangoes plucked from those trees may not be “halal” for Muslim consumption.

Upon hearing this, the two men looked somewhat amused.

They said in Malay, “Bro, all this talk about haram and halal are the doings of those in religious headgear. Their purpose? To create chaos among us of different races.

“The truth is, all of us here can easily be friends and get along well if it wasn’t for those men who think they are saints. Let’s not allow them to break us apart.

“Our intention is sincere, so there is no question of the mangoes on these trees being haram or halal. As long as our intentions are good, everything is halal.”

Ganesan said he was touched by their words, so much so he told them to pluck as many mangoes as they wanted. But oddly, before plucking the mangoes, the two men began reciting a short prayer under the mango trees.

When Ganesan asked what they were doing, the men replied, “We are seeking permission to pluck the mangoes and also asking forgiveness because we would have to step on the tree branches.”

In the end, the two Malay men plucked three pails full of mangoes and left feeling very happy to have found what they came seeking for.

Before they left, one of the Malay men took out a RM50 note and handed it to Ganesan’s mum. Not expecting any payment for the mangoes, she politely declined the money, claiming the mangoes were a gift from Ganesan and the family for their feast in the kampung.

The men smiled and said,”We are brothers, there is no need to be calculative. This is a sincere token of appreciation from us. Please accept it.”

According to Ganesan, although there was no expectation for any form of “payment”, his mum and he were very pleased and overwhelmed to receive such kindness from the two strangers.

Before ending our conversation, Ganesan had this to say: “Fa, I feel so much anger and disappointment every time I read racist slurs and religious bigotry on Facebook and Twitter from people who dedicate themselves to tearing the fabric of unity that has held us together since Merdeka.

“And lately, with the Perlis mufti addressing us Indians as pariahs – his arrogance and ignorance was really hard to swallow.”

“However, my two newfound brothers have proven me wrong. My newfound abang and adik have restored my faith in Muslims. That there are good-hearted, kind Muslims and Malays who still champion the spirit of Malaysia. And as long as they are around, I think those who preach hatred will always be at the losing end.”

Fa Abdul is an FMT columnist.

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