"I want her to have a good education and never go hungry." Dad.

Little people who lead simple, but contented lives
Thursday July 7, 2005

Little man Madrazhid Isa can't wait to move into his new home in Sri Rampai Flats, Setapak. Not that he has any complaint about his current home in Pekeliling Flats, but the new place means a bigger space and a new beginning for him and his 10-year-old daughter Nurul Raihah Nadhira.

"City Hall has assured us that the disabled, little people and the visually impaired can move into the new place in the next few months," said Madrazhid. "Everything should be settled by year end."

The special people have been given priority to take up the first five levels of the flats.

"Previously, we had to stay on higher floors," said Madrazhid.

To the disabled people in his neighbourhood, Madrazhid is a leader. His fighting spirit puts him at an advantage when championing their rights. Incidentally, Madrazhid is co-founder of the Malaysian Association of Little People of which he retired as board member not too long ago.

Madrazhid leads a simple, but contented life. His only goal now is to give his daughter a good life. Madrazhid and his wife have been divorced.

He begins his day at 7am when he sends Nurul off to school. Madrazhid then goes to a stall near his home for breakfast before opening his shop where handphones are repaired.

"It is my workshop," he said of his shop, given to him by City Hall in August. Previously he worked from home.

At 10am he goes to a shop next door for tea.

The 43-year-old from Perak tells us his story over the drink.

"I came to Kuala Lumpur in 1975 with RM1 which my mother gave me," he said. "It was quite an amount then. One ringgit could go a long way."

But, Madrazhid did not spend the money. It had sentimental value.

"To this day I still have it. No matter how tough the going gets, I will still not touch it," he said, adding that he needn't need to know that he had made it "big" compared with his kampung days.

Madrazhid joined the theatre in his early days in Kuala Lumpur. Roles in films followed. "But, I was popular as a stage actor," he said.

Finishing his tea, Madrazhid goes back to his shop where several customers are waiting to collect their hand phones. Others have come to drop off old ones that need to be repaired.

At about 11.05am, he journeys on his wheelchair past the busy Pahang roundabout, then down Jalan Pahang before reaching the busy Chow Kit area. Here's where Madrazhid buys the spare parts for the phones.

Madrazhid began using the wheelchair three years ago after an accident while riding pillion on a friend's motorcycle.

Despite the heat and traffic congestion, Madrazhid is at ease on the busy roads. "I have become used to it. I do it about three times a week," he said, adding that he takes the taxi on rainy days.

"Sometimes I may have to go to Low Yat Plaza, and when I do I take the taxi with my daughter," he said. "This way I get to take my daughter out to jalan jalan (see the sights)."

Madrazhid reaches his home on the ground floor at about 1.35pm. It is when Nurul comes home from school. Still in her school uniform, the Year Four pupil revises her lessons with her father.

Madrazhid returns to his shop at 3pm and returns at 7pm to wash up and take Nurul out to dinner. They return an hour later to catch the news on television.

Madrazhid makes time for Nurul to talk about her day in school before she goes to bed. "I want to spend as much time as I can with her," said the doting father.

Madrazhid's love for his daughter is immense. "I even started my business to give my daughter everything a growing girl needs," he said. "I want her to have a good education and never go hungry."

On weekends he closes shop early to take Nurul out to the city in the evening.

Mohd Azrin Sahab is another little person who stays at the Pekeliling Flats. Living with him is his wife Ruzita Ahmad, who is also a little person, and their two-year-old daughter.

Azrin works as a mechanic at a Perodua service centre in Serdang.

He leaves home as early as 7am for his work place.

"I wake up at about 6am everyday," he said. "After my bath and breakfast I leave for work."

On Sundays he wakes up later.

Returning home after work at 5.30pm, Azrin performs his maghrib prayers at his home on the second floor. Finishing his religious obligations, he takes his family out for dinner.

"Usually I reach home at about 7pm every day. If my wife comes back from work at a florist’s shop earlier, she will cook, otherwise we pack dinner or eat out," said the 33-year-old.

Azrin drives to work every day. His car is modified to enable him to reach the pedals below the steering wheel.

His wife goes to work in Kampung Baru by bus and the monorail.

"My routine is the same every day. I go to work, come back from work, take my bath and have dinner," said Azrin. "Then, I stay at home, watch television or help my wife with household chores."

On weekends he has more time with his family.

Azrin also goes bowling when the Malaysian Association of Little People organises tournaments.

Like Madrazhid, Azrin is also preparing for the shift to his new home. But, he is not as keen as Madrazhid.

"Although the new place has three bedrooms, the flat is further from my workplace," he said.

"There aren't any facilities like a hospital or the monorail station. I guess it will take us some time before we adapt to our new environment."

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