Man with elephantiasis gets surprise Hari Raya visitors

Special Raya: (From left) Ainon, Shirin Aziha, Lim and nurse Fazilah having fun at his home in Jalan Gopeng. Photo: The Star/ANN

GEORGE TOWN: Uncle Ah San, a 79-year-old man suffering from filariasis (elephantiasis), experienced the warmth and sweetness of Hari Raya Aidilfitri when his Muslim friend of 17 years drove from Kuala Lumpur to visit him at his house.

Shirin Aziha Shahidan, 27, accompanied by her mother Ainon Abdul Aziz and private nurses Fazilah Abdul Wahab and Surya Abdullah, paid Uncle Ah San or Lim Kim Sung a surprise visit, bearing gifts, including a bright red baju Melayu in conjunction with Hari Raya.

The occasion was a harmonious blending of cultures as the guests, who also brought satay, ketupat, mee goreng mamak and traditional Malay kuih, sampled them together with Lim at his home in Jalan Gopeng here.

"This is the first time my family and I celebrated Hari Raya out of KL. I am so glad to make it back for a visit before I start work," said Shirin Aziha, a sales and marketing executive in an oil and gas company in Kuala Lumpur.

Shirin Aziha had also visited Lim last week, days before Hari Raya.

She and Uncle Ah San made news about a month ago when she took to social media to raise funds for Lim.

Since she was 10, Shirin Aziha had watched Lim struggle to cross Jalan Air Itam with his enlarged left leg, pushing a tricycle full of used cardboard boxes to sell.

"I could see him trying to cross from my house and I helped him almost every day. That was how the friendship developed," she recalled.

Lim's wife died three years ago. They have no children.

Through Shirin Aziha, many generous people sent money for her to buy a remote-controlled hospital bed and hire three nurses to tend to Lim round the clock, particularly his infection-prone leg.

To Shirin Aziha, the effort of making her friend's sunset years more comfortable was simply a matter of course.

"It is Uncle who changed our lives. As a child, I watched him limp but his smile was always genuine. He never looked like he was suffering and always had time to chat with me and reminded me to study hard," she said.

"I learned from him to always be aware of the people around us, to pay less attention to myself and genuinely care for other people.

"Some day, we will all need someone to help us."