By Fa Abdul | MALAYSIA KINI | OPINION |
COMMENT | Last February, he sat with me under an old tree in Pulau Rubiah, Acheh, and insisted that we do something to help the island folk whom he had rescued after the tsunami back in 2004. He was worried for them, just like he worries about everyone who struggles and are in need of help.
“We must do something, Fa, we must do something,” he said.
That’s so typical of Rishi, always wanting to do something for others. Even when he had too much on his shoulders and nothing much to give, he would always find a way.
Rishi, whose full name is Rishiwant Singh Randhawa, was killed in a motorcycle accident yesterday evening in Punjab, India. He was 43.
He’s fondly known as the ‘Flying Singh’ and was the director of United Sikh Malaysian Humanitarian Aid Organisation. He also founded the Malaysian Foodbank Organisation and the Good Will Walk movement.
In 2016, he was presented with The Star Golden Hearts Awards in recognition of his humanitarian works.
As I mourn the loss of a wonderful friend and a greater human being, I am reminded of our many deep conversations about humanity and the value of our conscience.
I remember one of his text messages to me some time ago – “A poor lady wanted to kill herself and her children due to poverty in Sri Kelantan Flats, Sentul. Managed to get her monthly food supplies for the next twelve months. Now she only needs RM500 a month. Imagine Fa, just RM500 a month to save three lives.”
Rishi helped everyone. Race and religion of the people who needed help were immaterial to him.
In his books, people were people. He believed that it was our duty as humans to help another human, to share what we have, and to count our blessings together.
Rishi may have been a Sikh, but he devoted his life to Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and the rest of the human kinds. He was a true messiah.
During his lifetime, Rishi touched many hearts and changed many lives. From the flood victims in Kelantan to the Syrian refugees along the Macedonian-Serbian border, he built bridges across the globe, in different communities. But his heart was always with Malaysians.
He was always so hopeful when it came to matters pertaining to Malaysia, for he believed that we are in dire need of bridges across different communities.
Racism, discrimination and hatred of all kinds intoxicating our nation were among the things Rishi had hoped to eliminate through his humanitarian work.
He certainly did build many bridges throughout the years, but his unfortunate and untimely death means the rest of us have to shoulder the task and build the remaining bridges.
In the current situation of our nation where people continue to be divided based on race, religion and economic status; where people are holding on to special privileges as if they were drowning and the privileges are their safety life jacket; where people are ready to fight one another instead of sharing what they have – I keep hearing Rishi’s words over and over again: “We must do something. We must do something.”
Rishi spent his life doing the things he thought would change the world. Now it is up to us to continue his work.
We must do something to help the poor. We must do something to assist those who are struggling. We must do something to promote love and unity across different races and religions. We must do something to make this nation better for all of us.
We can take small steps. Be kinder to our neighbours. Be generous to our helpers. Be nicer to people around us. Help those who need help. Give what we can afford to give. If not in cash or kind, then offer support.
We must do something.
Because not doing anything is not an option. It wasn’t an option in Rishi’s books and neither should it be in ours.
Rest in peace my magnificent friend. You will be missed.
FA ABDUL is a passionate storyteller, a growing media trainer, an aspiring playwright, a regular director, a struggling producer, a self-acclaimed photographer, an expert Facebooker, a lazy blogger, a part-time queen and a full-time vainpot.
[The article appeared in popular Malaysian news portal MalaysiaKini. See here for the original story.
United Sikhs aid director Rishiwant perishes in Patiala motor accident (Asia Samachar, 25 Nov 2018)