An unexpected act of kindness

|     Suhada Amalina Binti Abd Jalil     |

WE all woke up at five in the morning that day.

Pearl had a 7am plane to catch. It was important to arrive at the airport not later than 6am for Pearl to have ample time to check in and, most importantly, to not miss her plane. That’s the last thing we would wish to happen. Air ticket really cost us students a lot then.

As it was the last term of university and that the next time we could probably be seeing each other will be at our graduation day, ‘The Fantastic Four’ – as what we would call ourselves – made an effort to drive Pearl to the airport. Tears were welling up and streaming down our faces as we said good-byes.

Admitting to myself that we were going to be apart was really hard. We had many good memories together in the classrooms, exam hall, cafeteria, library, laboratories and the netball court. I am sure many agree that college days are the best days in one’s life.

Silence reigned in the car except for the Graduation song by Vitamin C playing on the radio. We stopped somewhere to perform Subuh prayer and went to Zaman Restaurant for breakfast. This eatery serves the best Nasi Lemak in town, well worth the visit if you come to Kuantan. It opens as early as 6am and is always packed with people, especially workers and students from the area.

We purposely grabbed the seats at the corner, isolated from other customers, to have fun conversations, few laughs and wind down after all the stress of the semester.

The sun shined its golden light over the mountain when we finished breakfast, but it was not yet hot. It was a lovely ride that it washed away the unpleasant feelings the farewell brought before. The dew, clearly visible on the blades of the grass along the road, reminded me of my late grandmother.

According to her, a drop of cold dew placed into your eyes at dawn will improve your eyesight for the rest of your life. I can’t attest that, even though she never wore glasses in her lifetime. She rarely watched television, let alone let her eyes glued to smartphone screens.

Practising good eating habits is more likely her secret of maintaining healthy eyes, I suppose.

As we were driving along, suddenly the car started slowing down. I pushed the accelerator pedal harder but the car didn’t go any faster.

With more fuel pumped into the engine the more power it will develop, the faster the acceleration – at least that what I am certain about cars.

I panicked at the situation. So were my friends, who all literally turned blue like Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy.

Fortunately, I managed to shift the gear to neutral and pull over the car to the shoulder of the road before it completely stopped dead. We looked at each other blankly and no one seemed to know what caused the car to be immobile. We were not sure whether to get out or stay in the car, as the sides of the road were full of trees and bushes.

Time was running out, and there were a few passer-bys who I believed were driving to work but nobody stopped to offer aid. Everyone was rushing to work.

We tried to call our friends but nobody answered. Well, who on earth would wake up early in the morning when there is no class – that’s a student’s life. This is not good, I thought to myself.

We eventually decided to get out of the car and open the bonnet. There was no burnt smell or fire. Nothing seemed abnormal. The engine looked perfect. Sweats ran down our spines.

After the longest 10 minutes ever in our lives, a male motorbike rider with full-covered helmet stopped by and asked, “Are you all okay? Do you need help?”

“I don’t know. The car suddenly decided to ummm…stop,” I replied. My friends nodded in agreement.

The rider checked the engine and found nothing wrong with it. I handed him the car key before he entered the driver’s seat and switched on the engine. As expected, the car won’t start. Just giving the ‘ghghghghghghg’ sound instead.

He paused for a moment and then smiled.

“Did you forget something?” he asked.

“Erm, no. Nothing that we are aware of..?” I replied.

“The tank is empty. That’s why the car stopped,” he explained calmly with a grin.

“Oooooooo, no wonder!” we answered almost at the same time. I peeked at the fuel gauge and blamed myself for not noticing the illuminated light.

“Boss, I will be a little late today. Helping someone whose car ran out of fuel,” I heard him talking over the phone.

He then told us he would go to the nearest petrol station which is eight kilometres away to get fuel. About half an hour later, he appeared with a portable fuel container. He poured the fuel into our car for us.

“This should be enough for your car until the next filing station. Remember to fill in your fuel later,” he said. We duly nodded and waved him goodbye as he rode away into the heavy fog.

The story happened three years ago, when I was a student in Kuantan, Malaysia, driving with my friends. Rushing to beat morning traffic, the mystery bike rider spent half an hour and rode for 16 kilometres to assist us strangers. He even refused our money for his effort.

We did not get his name but we often remembered his kindness. We owed him so much that day and prayed that he be rewarded in this world and beyond for his good deed.

It warms the heart to know that good people do exist in today’s hustle and bustle world.

On another note, to run out of gas while driving is totally a new experience for me. I never let the needle goes near to empty ever since then, for I learnt my lesson big time.