Touching tale of Uncle Ah San


When I first read about the plight of Uncle Ah San in a Facebook posting several weeks ago, I knew his was a story worth telling.

Social activist Syed Azmi Abhalshi had posted a touching tale of how the 80-year-old, who suffers from filariasis (elephantiasis), was struggling alone with life's hardship.

He said he got to know about Uncle Ah San - whose real name is Lim Kim Sung - from a friend Shirin Aziha whom he said had known the man since she was 10.

Syed Azmi also told about the friendship between Shirin and Lim, how she used to help him cross the road when she was a young girl and how Lim treats her like his own daughter.

Shirin, 27, is now in Kuala Lumpur but used to live in the same neighbourhood as Lim in the Datuk Keramat area.

It's a heart-warming story and more people should know about Lim and his plight.

Shirin is a friend from my secondary school days and I had wanted to contact her for more details. Before I could, she messaged me and asked if I wanted to write about Uncle Ah San.

I interviewed Lim two days later and found out that he has a heart of gold. On one occasion, he bought RM200 (S$71) worth of meat for orphans; another time he donated some of his meagre savings to a charity organisation for the blind.

Despite suffering from chronic ulcers on his left leg and arthritis in both legs which crippled him about four years ago, Lim remains positive and content.

Throughout the interview, he stressed that we have much to be thankful for as long as we're healthy.

"Always repay your parents for all they have done for you. Never forget or forsake them despite their nagging because they only want the best for you," he said in Hokkien.

Lim, whose wife passed away three years ago, has no children of his own and loves Shirin like a daughter.

"She is a good girl, always remembering to visit me when-ever she is back in Penang."

He said he owed it to Shirin, Syed Azmi and others who made it possible for him to have a better life.

Shirin said RM8,000 poured in within 24 hours of Syed Azmi's Facebook posting and part of the funds was used to buy a remote-controlled hospital bed.

Lim no longer has to cross the busy junction to get to the Penang Hospital - thanks to nurses hired by Shirin to help him with his wound dressing and other daily chores at his Jalan Gopeng home.

The former vegetable seller and coffee-shop helper previously survived on a monthly welfare aid of RM300 and depended on earnings from collecting and selling recyclable items to pay his monthly rental of RM220. Now he sees brighter days ahead.

Lim could not stop thanking me as I was leaving his home, but I was the one who should be thankful for the opportunity to tell his story.

Shirin commented in a FB posting: "I think Uncle Ah San has changed our lives instead."

I couldn't agree more.