Saturday, September 25, 2021

Failing eyesight leaves ex-cabbie on the road to nowhere

Mohd Kamil Affendy Hashim worked as a taxi driver until he was diagnosed with bilateral optic neuritis, an affliction of the eyes which has left him fruitlessly hunting for another job in the busy city centre.

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It was all he had to support himself and his elderly mother in their rented home in the city.

But since his diagnosis, he has not dared to drive his taxi for fear of meeting with an accident.

His circumstances changed very suddenly: one morning he woke up and found that he could no longer see clearly, even words on his phone screen.

Today, he is venturing out to look for another job, his documents packed carefully in a plastic file which he carries in a canvas tote bag.

He makes his way from the house, watched by his mother, Nur Aminah, who urges him to be careful.

Tapping the ground in front of him with his walking stick, he makes his way to a nearby bus station.

He boards a bus with a sign reminding passengers of the 28-person limit imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country. The movement control order makes job hunting much harder but he clings to hope each day.

Only a handful of passengers are on the bus with him, a stark reminder of the challenges and movement restrictions faced by many across the country.

He must be careful while on the road as he can no longer rely on his eyes to warn him of approaching vehicles.

Everywhere he goes, he is guided by his walking stick.

Every now and then, he stops at a restaurant to ask if there are vacancies in the kitchen as a dish washer – the only job he can safely do with his deteriorating eyesight.

More often than not the answer is no, but he continues searching.

He even tries his luck at a durian stall that sells cendol on the side, but no one is hiring.

Here, too, he meets only disappointment. The movement control order and tough economic situation means few options available, especially for the disabled.

Tired after a long day of fruitless searching, he returns home.

He is met by his mother, who is hanging the laundry out to dry. She knows from the look on his face that he has had no success in his job hunt.

She fixes him a cup of tea in their small kitchen and he tells her about his day.

She worries about him and prays each day that an opportunity will appear for her son.

At the end of the day, they are alone in their small house with only their pet cats to divert their concerns.

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