89-year-old Muniammah Rajalingam has been through much. Having tied the knot at a noticeably early age of 16, her hopes of happily raising a family, together with the man she probably envisioned spending the rest of her life with, was crushed, along with her happiness, when she was widowed at the age of 31. Muniammah was then forced to put on a brave front for the sake of her 3 young sons.
To make ends meet, she took on odd jobs along the way and raised the boys alone. Then, in 1981, Muniammah was dealt another blow when her eldest son and his wife died in a road accident, leaving behind their two children. This resilient grandma willingly took on the added responsibility of caring for her two grandsons.
Muniammah now lives alone in a rented apartment in Desa Mentari, Petaling Jaya. With no contact with her two surviving sons, having not seen or heard from her first grandson for two years, after he walked out one morning in search of a job, and with her second grandson believed to be in police custody since mid last year, Muniammah has been turning to kind-hearted neighbours and individuals for help.
Meet Bhavani Batumalai, the landlord who has generously allowed Muniammah to stay, rent-free. Bhavani, 40, is a homemaker, who just got married 3 months ago. The eldest in a family of four, stays with her family in Sg. Long, taking care of her mother and three younger siblings after the death of her father four years ago.
Knowing the struggles of this octogenarian, and all she has undergone, Bhavani knew it was unfair to put Muniammah through the torment of sourcing monthly rental. Times are exceedingly difficult, especially now, with everyone struggling to cope financially with the current economic downturn. Although Muniammah is in arrears of 9-months rental amounting to almost RM7000, not including utility bills, Bhavani has no intention of putting her on the streets to fend for herself. Even with her fair share of responsibilities, Bhavani said, “My wish is to keep Aunty safe.” However, with commitments on the rise, she too needs the means to sustain.
Bhavani, who has experience dabbling in business and transportation, mentioned that she is now actively looking for an office job.
Another kind soul who has been watching over Muniammah, is neighbour K. Jayamani, who has been dutifully looking after her daily needs, groceries, and food. When Muniammah first moved into Desa Mentari, she was quiet and kept to herself. It was only since the end of March 2020, that Jayamani and grandma formed a special bond.
Jayamani, the second in a family of eight siblings, stays in the opposite unit. She was forced to leave her job after being diagnosed with brain tumour and having undergone an operation back in 2003. But she did not see this as a setback. Jayamani has been incredibly involved in welfare work and service to the community. So, it was only natural that when a neighbour was in distress, she stepped in to help. Her services to the community also gained recognition when she was bestowed the Pingat Pangkuan Negara (P.P.N) by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Almarhum Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah, back in 2015.
From the day Jayamani started speaking to Muniammah, she has been checking on her at least three times a day. When GoodNews spoke to Jayamani, she described the old lady as someone who was still active despite her age, starting her day early at 4.30a.m. Although grandma suffers from age-related hearing loss, she still prefers cooking her own meals every now and then. Since the rise in Covid-19 cases, and with positive reports in their area, Jayamani has been careful not to allow Muniammah out of her unit.
It is no doubt that there is a special connection between Jayamani and Muniammah, one akin to a mother-daughter relationship.
Today, we see many Malaysians going out of their way to help those in need. They may seem small, simple deeds but they mean much more. Bhavani and Jayamani are two such individuals. They are the epitome of inspiration, bringing hope to the lost.
As of today, we were told that two kind individuals have also stepped forward to settle the rent in arrears, with one pledging to pay till July 2021.
This just goes to show, in times of adversity, humanity still prevails.