Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. 

– Mark Twain, American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher and lecturer

Yesterday afternoon, my fellow workers and I were treated to Bubur Pedas cooked by a friend’s mother.  Although I had an early lunch, I couldn’t resist the Bubur Pedas, a traditional Indonesian porridge dish for the Malays in Sambas, Indonesia and Sarawak.

Usually served during the fasting month of Ramadan, it is made from finely ground sautéed rice and grated coconut with stock made from chicken or beef broth. Spices and many types of vegetables are incorporated into the pot when the porridge is cooked.

But now, as long as the ingredients are available, you don’t have to wait till Ramadan to eat Bubur Pedas. Yesterday, my friend’s Bubur Pedas had bamboo shoots, cangkok manis (Star gooseberry) and long beans in it. They are among some of my favourite vegetables.

Thank you, Aina, for taking the trouble to bring the big pot of porridge to the office. Thank you, Aina’s mum, for your generosity. I will remember both of you for your little act of kindness.

My dear friends, have you ever heard of the quote, ‘No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted’? Attributed to famous Greek fabulist Aesop, it means that kindness has a positive effect on others and us.

I consider myself lucky to be surrounded by many kind and generous colleagues. Another colleague, Jimmy, was recently blessed with a bountiful harvest of what the Ibans of Sarawak call buah mawang.

The brown wild mango is known to the Malays of Sarawak as asam embang/buah embawang.

Anyway, Jimmy came to the office, not once but twice, with his car full of the wild mangoes. My colleagues and I went home with at least two of the fruits each. Some went home with none because they did not know how to eat the fruit.

Another colleague, Rozy, came back the next day with buah mawang jam which her mother made.

Having grown up in Sibu in the Central Region of Sarawak, where there are many Ibans, I had eaten my fair share of the fruit. But that day, I tasted buah mawang jam for the first time in my life with locally manufactured Osborne crackers. To me, the jam was delicious! I was grateful to Rozy and her hardworking mum for introducing me to a new recipe.

I made some buah mawang jam with the next batch of buah mawang jimmy gave us in the office. When I shared pictures of it with my Facebook friends, they were also surprised to learn that buah mawang could be made into jam.

I once had an ex-colleague who was a good baker and could make all kinds of Malay kuih. She used to treat us to cakes and all types of kuih. Sometimes, she sold the kuih cheaply to us – three big pieces for a mere RM1.

After Hari Raya, she would share all the cakes and biscuits she made with us in the office. I loved especially her fruit cakes! Although it has been years since Janah passed on, I still think of her and her generosity.

I remember someone in the office once gave her a big papaya. Although she disliked papayas and never ate them, she accepted the papaya.  She then proceeded to cut it into pieces, put them on a plate and distributed them to all of us who were working that night.

Because many of our colleagues are Muslims, only halal food can be shared in the office. But fruits are halal for everybody. That is why I always encourage those who have bountiful harvests of fruits in their gardens to bring some to the office.

I don’t have fruit gardens and the only garden I have is the one at the back of my single-storey house. There, I grow cangkok manis. The sweet, leafy vegetable is flourishing in my garden. Once in a while, I give my cangkok manis to some of my colleagues.

I am thankful to God that the vegetable is growing well in my garden and think such blessings should be shared with friends.

Sometimes I buy bananas sold at a discount in the jungle market in Stutong in the morning and share them with my colleagues in the office.

I think sharing is caring. Working in a newspaper office is not easy; the hours are long and the night shifts can be tiring and stressful. Some of my friends do not live near a jungle market and therefore, do not have access to cheap, local fruits. Performing acts of kindness also makes me happy.

To conclude, remember my friends, little acts of kindness go a long way. Small acts of kindness can make a big difference in the lives of others and how people remember you many years from now.