Monday November 12, 2012
A matter of personal faith
ONE MAN'S MEAT
BY PHILIP GOLINGAI
Holy Mother of God — a window pane on a wet night turns Sime Darby Medical Centre into a ‘holy site’.
IT was a dark and stormy Saturday night when I received a tweet from @kcl1308, asking, “Anyone know what happened in Subang (Sime Darby) Medical Centre this afternoon 4pm-ish?”
“What happened?” I tweeted.
@kcl1308 replied: “A friend sent me this taken there. Apparently a big crowd!”
The “there” was Sime Darby Medical Centre in Selangor. And the “this” was a photograph.
I clicked on the URL on my Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone and when the photograph appeared my first thought was: “Wow! Mother Mary.”
According to @kcl1308, “apparently a doctor went up in a crane to take a good shot. Crane was at construction site.”
Curious but unmotivated as it was raining cats and dogs, I tweeted to @kcl1308: “Feel like going to check image but it is raining in Subang Jaya.”
I retweeted the picture and posted: “Miracle in (Sime Darby) Medical Centre?”
It continued to rain, and my Twitter timeline was filled with requests to check out the image.
Being a good Catholic boy, I decided to brave the rain and pick up my Twitter buddy @saroki19 (who was in Subang Jaya) and we headed for the Sime Darby Medical Centre.
When I arrived at the scene, the first thing I did was to take photos of the people gathered outside the entrance of the hospital’s new wing.
I sent the pictures and tweeted: “Huge crowd at SJMC (SMDC) to see the image.”
The atmosphere at the site was surreal. It felt and sounded like I was attending an evening mass.
And you knew you were among believers.
Some in the crowd (I estimated to be 90% Catholic) were reciting the “Hail Mary” (a traditional Catholic prayer asking for the intercession of the Virgin Mary) and singing Ave Maria (Latin for “Hail Mary”, as prayer set to music. The Celine Dion version is quite haunting).
Catholics believe that Mary, as the mother of Jesus Christ, is the Mother of God.
They were looking at an image on a window pane in a stairwell of the hospital.
Many were using their smartphones to capture the image.
A man was using a pair of binoculars to get a better view of the image. A woman was lighting candles.
I was eavesdropping.
“My camera can see it but our eyes can’t,” said a 20-something man, showing photographs on his huge camera to strangers.
“Fading ah slowly,” a man told his wife.
“I’ve been here since 5pm and the image was clearer then. Now it is not clear,” a woman with a huge camera told her friends.
“No, no, you take the right turn. Ya, ya, it is the hospital near that hotel,” a man said over the phone.
Someone tapped me on the shoulder.
“Wah, you are also here!” I said to my former colleague.
“My parents dragged me here,” he said.
“You must be Catholic?” I said.
“Yes,” he answered.
“Look ... there on the third window pane, you can see an image,” @saroki19 told me.
I could not see the image of Mother Mary.
What I saw was some dark-coloured something which did not resemble the vivid, colourful photograph I saw on Twitter.
The most popular question tweeted to me that night was: “how realistic that image, eh?”
My answer was: “I can’t see it. Too dark. Or I am sinner?”
The second-most popular tweet question was: “Got empat ekor for tomorrow?”
My answer was “101112,” as suggested by @saroki19 since it was 10 November 2012.
The third-most popular tweet on the image was connected to Datuk Dr Hasan Ali, a former Selangor PAS commissioner, and solar-powered bibles.
The fourth-most popular tweet had something to do with “it is the end of the world”.
Next morning I had a Whatsapp chat with my family in Sabah.
I sent them a photograph published in The Star.
“Looks like a smudge, only that,” said my younger sister.
“Tiada pun saya nampak ... apa apa (I don’t see anything),” said my older sister.
My reply was: “Sinners can’t see the image.”
My younger sister sent me a story on “Understanding People Who See Jesus In Burnt Toast”.
Yesterday morning, I was told via Twitter that the image was still on the window pane in Sime Darby Medical Centre.
It seems the image of Mother Mary was very clear from 4.30pm to 7am. And people were still flocking to the hospital.
Unofficially, depending on your belief, Sime Darby Medical Centre is now a holy site.
Like @jerng tweeted: “People see what they want to see.”
My reply was: “It is faith.”