Taken1 Jun 2012
The news broke on the morning of May 3. Nayati Moodliar, the 11-year-old boy who had been abducted from outside Mont Kiara International School, had been found and was safely back with his family.
It is difficult to remember when such a collective sense of relief and outpouring of emotion happened for one person and their family here in KL. Expatriates and locals all shared in the emotion and everyone’s feelings went out to Nayati’s relatives, even though 99.9 per cent of us, including me, had never met them or heard of them.
You would never wish such a thing on your worst enemies. However, from an outsider's point of view, from the point of view of our community, I couldn’t help but feel a warm glow of pride and reaffirmation of my faith in people that so many went to great lengths to locate Nayati and bring him back home.
These days, sharing a Facebook post or “retweeting” news is commonplace but every single person who did that was contributing in spreading the word, maybe reaching just one more person who might somehow come across this abducted child.
Even people just posting a message of support were giving the Moodliar family encouragement and moral help to get through their ordeal. This kind of sympathy and caring may be the smallest of efforts but makes a grander gesture, one that I think is worth focusing on this month for my column.
As a columnist for an expat mag, the easiest thing you can do is whinge, moan and complain. It’s simple. The taxis are trying to rip me off, the roads are terrible, my maid is lazy, my husband never helps me at home, the kids are acting up, we all know the stories. And if you focus on them, especially when we are in a situation where we live so far from home, it is easy to let life get you down.
But then something this big, something this awful happens. It shows up our petty, brainless complaints about taxi drivers for what they are.
It shows us that we are better than that. We are a community, and communities, when they come together, can make great things happen.
Not that we literally found Nayati, but by spreading awareness and offering our support, emotionally from a distance or the many who put posters up, spoke to passing motorists outside his school in Mont Kiara, and joined the physical efforts to discover what happened to a boy who could have belonged to any one of us.
Depressingly, since Nayati was discovered the gossip grapevines have been busy with speculation about the nature of the disappearance and how he came to be home. Two things about that.
Firstly, we will never know exactly what happened. Gossip is just that. The facts are that a young boy was missing from his family and one can only imagine what he and they went through. There was no way of telling how it would end until the very second they were finally reunited.
Speculation also glosses over the main issue here. That of the horrors that run through a parent's mind. Before I became pregnant, I could never have guessed how almost every waking moment of your life involved some degree of panic about the safety of your child.
Once, in our new apartment, I ran back to the lounge as I suddenly realised I’d left the balcony doors open. We have a large, high-walled balcony but I couldn’t stop myself peering over the side, my stomach in my mouth, tears coming to my eyes, in abject panic that my son had somehow thrown himself over (never mind it was impossible in the few seconds he was there alone and he physically couldn’t have lifted himself to do it). When he poked his head from under the table I hugged him so tight I burst into tears.
That feeling of horror followed by overwhelming love will be familiar to anyone who momentarily takes their eye off their child in a supermarket only for them to run down a different aisle. Imagine that multiplied a million-fold and you start to imagine what Nayati’s family went through.
Welcome home, Nayati. It’s good to have you back.