Rising Sun, Part 2: Not Just Another Love Story
Our guest blogger is Waheeda Hasbullah is a Project Executive with the Malaysia team in Kuala Lumpur and recently attended the Rising Sun conference in Bangkok. She has an educational background in biotechnology.
People, by nature, are not perfect and sometimes we forget how to love each other well. The dinner at the Rising Sun 2015 meeting prepared by MaxSmiles Thailand, was a reminder to me. Admittedly, I attended the dinner with the intention of eating as much Thai food as I could. Wirat, Thailand Senior MaxStation, reassured me that I would not be disappointed that night. He was totally right; who would’ve thought the dinner would feed my soul.
As soon as we have arrived, the MaxSmiles team members warmly welcomed us. The dinner venue was stunning: it reminded me of a Malaysian wedding receptions. From the choice of flowers to hall arrangements, the love manifested throughout the space. No detail was left unnoticed; they reflected just how much effort was put in for this dinner and showed how much the members cared. I would describe the dinner as a beautiful union between MaxSmiles and the Rising Sun participants, even though we were practically strangers.
Funnily enough, I only tried one or two Thai cuisines that night. Do you remember how at first I wanted to try as much Thai food as I could? There was nothing wrong with the food at all. In fact, they were all cooked perfectly. I was simply filled with so much love. You may think it sounds a bit silly but the truth is that love was in the air.
I ended up going to the food section and met with the patients. We exchanged very few words, due to the language barrier. Most of the time we were just smiling to each other yet I feel somehow we understood each other. That was when a few of Muslim patients approached me – they could tell I am a Muslim from my hijab (headscarf). We spoke different languages and were raised up in different cultures, yet we are bonded by the same faith. It doesn’t have to be faith or religion, there will always be something that brings us all together. We were connected by the strong bond of love that night, and my writing will never be enough to justify the love we received.
Our generous hosts threw so many great surprises but my favorite one was the surprise for Pat. They were all gathered in the hall to be able to see Pat in person for the first time. I could see how excited they were from my seat at the back of the hall – they couldn’t help but to smile in admiration. They presented an amazing tea set for Pat and the Novartis. I was touched by how someone could love so deeply and generously. The moment made me tear up, and I was humbly reminded about the most important lesson, to love genuinely.
I never thought I would get a sweet little surprise until a small group of lovely Muslim patients approached me for a picture. They were trying their best to tell me that they’re Muslims too. We spoke to each other with very minimal words and managed to capture the moment with a photo. They kept holding my hands and looked me deep into the eyes. I saw affection, and I was truly humbled. They did not know anything about me at all, yet they made me feel so loved. Luckily, Piyapong managed to join us at the end of the conversation, helping us with the translation. I made sure to tell them how happy I am to be there.
That night we literally tasted love, I couldn’t agree more on what Pat has said in her speech: that night, love is being spoken without words.