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Blinded by diabetes, ex-security guard lives on hope and determination

All Lim Bun Lai wants is to one day see the faces of his wife and son again.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli
2 minute read
Former security guard Lim Bun Lai, who is blind due to diabetes, in his home in Padang Terap, Kedah.
Former security guard Lim Bun Lai, who is blind due to diabetes, in his home in Padang Terap, Kedah.

For many years, Lim Bun Lai scraped by on the meagre salary he received as a security guard at a factory near his house in Padang Terap, Kedah. 

But one day, he was diagnosed with diabetes, and his life – already difficult – took a slow turn for the worse. 

At first, he went about his affairs as he always had, but his health began to deteriorate until even the veins in his eyes were affected. 

Now, at the age of 56, Bun Lai has been blind for eight years. 

Although he spends his days in darkness, he is grateful for his wife and older sister who, between them, take care of him. 

"My wife works as a cook at a nearby kindergarten," he said during a recent visit by MalaysiaNow. 

"My sister, meanwhile, does what she can to help around the house." 

Bun Lai himself used to move about with energy and vigour but without his sight, he can only feel his way slowly around the house in order to reach the kitchen or bathroom. 

He is proud of his son, who is studying at Universiti Utara Malaysia on a student loan. 
But alone in the house, there is little to distract him from his present circumstances.

"I only listen to the radio in order to pass the time," he said. 

Bun Lai needs to undergo treatment every four months to keep his health from spiralling down further.

But although he is blind, he refuses to sit still and do nothing. Every day, he does his best to help with chores such as sweeping the floor and doing the dishes. 

His sister, Lim Sik Voo, splits her time between helping her brother and taking care of her own family. 

"I live just around the corner," Sik Voo, who is just three years older than Bun Lai, said. 

"Every two to three days, I come over to see how my brother is doing. I make sure he has enough food and help with the housework while his wife is at work." 

Bun Lai and his wife need at least RM800 a month to cover their expenses, including for food and treatment as well as utilities. 

"My wife earns just enough to pay for our groceries," he said, adding that any help from the government would be welcome. 

In the meantime, they make their way from one day to the next.

For himself, Bun Lai's dreams are both simple and achingly out of reach – at least for now. 

"I just want to see the faces of my wife and son again," he said. 

"And I would like to one day walk again without needing the help of someone else."