AUGUST 25 — If someone were to ask if there was a silver lining to the MH17 tragedy, it would be that the incident has taught us how to pause for a moment, and appreciate life and those around us.
Although we may have not known those on the plane personally, stories of them which have been shared by their loved ones and friends have enabled us to get to know them a little better.
For instance, take 30-year-old Angeline Premila Rajandaran, who was the youngest cabin crew member on board the plane.
Many of us may not have personally known how much she was loved by her neighbours. They had described her as a kind-hearted soul who would never fail to flash a smile at those around her.
We also learned how much she respected others, regardless of their status in society.
Her neighbour Low Chee Kim said whenever she left their gated community to board the Malaysia Airlines shuttle van, she would never fail to ask if the guards had eaten.
“If she was wearing her sunglasses, she would make sure she removed them before speaking to them,” he said.
We’ve also learned how first officer Ahmad Hakimi Hanapi, 29, would rush home to be with his then eight-month-old son Abderrahman whenever he returned from duty.
His wife, Asmaa Aljuned, said her husband “Kimi” would relieve her from babysitting chores, and would insist that when he was at home, it was he who is in charge of his child’s needs.
“When Kimi was at home, he would always hold on to Abderrahman. He wouldn’t put Abderrahman in a high chair or a stroller but carried him all the time,” she said in an interview with an English daily.
We have also been given an insight into the lives of Shell employee Paul Rajasingam, his lecturer wife Mabel Anthony Samy and their nine-year-old son Mathew Ezeikial who were on board the plane.
Matthew’s former church teacher, Maria Lorena, had related to the media about the close bond shared by the family.
Maria had said Matthew and Mable would always follow Paul whenever he travelled abroad and Mabel would never let Matthew out of her sight following the death of the boy’s twin brother a few years ago.
So deep was her love for little Matthew that she even volunteered as a teacher at Sunday school so she could be with him.
Then we were given an insight into Noor Rahimmah Mohd Nor who was travelling to her hometown in Tambun to celebrate Hari Raya with her family for the first time in 30 years.
The 67-year-old mother of two, had made extensive plans with her sister Noor Aini to travel around Malaysia and to also visit Thailand and Bali.
We also got to know Noor Rahimmah was young at heart when she told Noor Aini through an earlier phone conversation that her younger sister should get down to fencing up their family’s land and build two houses next to each other so they could pass food to each other every day.
Through a timeline of events, we learned those on the plane were served their last meals by crew members who took care of their every need throughout the journey. The crew members and pilot would probably have done everything they could for the passengers throughout the last moments of their lives.
We have come to learn about their lives, their bonds with their loved ones and their good deeds for others, but these are just some details of the lives of those Malaysia has lost.
Many of us had held on to our loved ones a little tighter on the night of July 17. I’ve also heard how certain people had been affected by the incident so much that they have put their jobs on hold to spend more time with their families.
On Friday, Malay Mail editor emeritus Frankie D’Cruz had in our front page asked: “How do you mourn the death of a stranger? How do we say goodbye to someone we’ve never said hello?”
While we have all said our goodbyes to those on MH17 in our own way, it’s time we cherish those around us a little more by saying more than just hello.