Empathy is all we need — Suzianah Nhazzla

NOVEMBER 26 I can still replay the moments when I saw a tiny kitten coming out from the left rear tire of the car next to me. I was on the Federal Highway heading to the National Institute of Public Administration (INTAN Bukit Kiara) from Shah Alam.

It was Monday November 16 and there was nothing unusual about that morning. I left my house at half past seven just to escape the mad traffic heading into the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur. As the junction to the Industrial Area was on my left, the traffic came to a slow movement. I took the opportunity to check my music library on Spotify just to hype up the usual sluggish Monday morning.

As I was listening to my music, I turned my head to the car on my right which was a few meters ahead of me. To my disbelief, I saw a white kitten coming out from the car’s left rear tire. I immediately pulled up my handbrake and put on the emergency light just to dash out as quickly as possible to the neighbouring car to alert the lady driver about the kitten.

As I was about to open my car door the cars started to move again, but slowly. I was screaming on top of my lungs in the car as the Ford Ranger behind the car-with-kitten-at-the rear tire started to move forward. But to my relief, the kitten was very alert and smart. When the cars started moving, it jumped back onto the space located in the inner corner of the rear tire.

I drove my car passed the car-with-kitten-at-the rear tire and wave frantically with my hands out of the window trying to tell the lady driver about the situation. I managed to catch her attention. She put down her window and I tried my very best yelling at her “there is a kitten under your car”. As I was 10 metres ahead of her, I could see from my rear mirror she gave a left indicator. As we were passing the NPE signboard on our left, there was an emergency lane.

I was hoping for her to stop the car to check on the kitten and I was so glad that she did. I did too. We were both at the emergency lane and as I was a few metres parked in front of her, I hurried my steps as I was worried that the kitten would just dash into the traffic and also I was cautious of the moving cars. She informed me that she didn’t really catch what I said so I told her again that there was a kitten at the rear tire of her car.

As we approached her car, I squatted down and showed her where the kitten was. The lady driver was very surprised when she saw the kitten was squeezing itself to safety in the inner-corner space which was located at the rear tire of her car.

I took off my heels, laid on my back and squeezed myself under to car to reach the kitten and get it out to safety. When I had the kitten in my hands, I could feel that it was nervously trembling and frigid. The kitten must have been really terrified as she was not more than 6 weeks old.

The lady driver asked me, “how on earth did the kitten get there” and all I could explain to her was, it’s the wet season of the year, strays will get into the car engines or any enclosed spaces just to have a warm place to sleep.

Before we parted ways, I thanked her for trusting a stranger and for having the empathy to stop her car. The kitten was not hers plus she was afraid of cats, so I decided to take the kitten with me to my office.

I have to admit that I am an avid animal lover and I have been rescuing animals for as long as I can remember. But to have a stranger and also who was afraid of cats to show empathy and care for the kitten that was in the dire need of emergency help, it really restored my faith in humanity. Plus, it also is telling me that Malaysians are a mature and caring society. As propagated by the Great Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi : the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

What the lady driver did was in tandem with what was propagated by British novelist, Mohsin Hamid: Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself. Despite being afraid of cats, she understood that all creatures deserve a life free from fear and pain.

Empathy is the greatest virtue. From it all virtues flow and without it all virtues are an act. To every Malaysian out there, have compassion and empathy in your heart. The greatest gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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