Nicholas has been living in Singapore for fourteen years since the day he was born. He studies in a top prestigious secondary school in Singapore. On one fateful day, he found himself as a typical Singaporean – a Singaporean who is “kiasu”.
Nicholas was waiting for his bus in early morning. Then, he was about to witness a typical scene that happens at every bus stop. Shortly, the sight of an approaching bus could be seen from afar. Anxious commuters between to move a few inches towards the yellow line on the floor, getting ready to board the already packed like sardines bus.
At this time, a physically-challenged elderly man was struggling to wheel himself forward. With his mouth curled in annoyance, he hollered in a string of dialect, “Excuse me… please give way!” However, everyone seemed to put on blank-television look, having their attention locked on the oncoming vehicle. The disabled sexagenarian was quite persistent in his pleas, and choked in a dry, coarse voice, “Let me move first; be considerate people…” as he manoeuvred his seemingly heavy weight with difficulty.
Again, people near him appeared too busy to board the bus and feign ignorance and carried on. Nicholas then patiently waited for the driver to assist the physically-challenged elderly onto the bus and boarded the bus eventually. He felt fortunate enough to get the last seat on the lower deck of the bus. A few bus-stops later, an old lady was seen trying to board the bus with difficulty. At the sight of this, everyone was either casted with black magic which sent them into deep slumber or getting more engrossed in a attractive headline news.
The old lady searched in vain for an empty seat but to no avail. Nicholas felt a momentary twinge of guilt and his soul twisted uneasily. He felt the need to show compassion and humanitarian to the old lady. Before he knew it, his legs galvanized into movement and he brought the old lady to his seat. With his seat given up, Nicholas sought for another one at the upper deck of the bus. Nicholas’s eyes gleamed wide with horror, his mouth hung agape. He was shocked to see pupils standing on the upper deck of the bus. As much to his knowledge, Nicholas knew that the bus would topple if excessive people remain standing on the upper deck. Nicholas sighed, and hung his head low. He felt that having received education, they should be able to decipher the rules and regulations held above the ceiling and round the stairs. They must have “missed” it on their way up.
After school, Nicholas went to a hawker centre which was just a stone’s throw away from his school. Although it was a far cry from the downtown swanky restaurants, the food served is cheap yet delectable. He arrived at the hawker centre and realised that the place was bustling with food enthusiasts. Many early diners were hovering around the table like impatient houseflies. Snake-like queues were lengthening in front of more popular stalls. However, it was more than that. Nicholas was shocked to see tissue papers lying motionlessly on several tables. He thought that Singaporeans were so “kiasu” that they had to reserve their seats in a hawker centre. This was the first time he saw a scene like this.
After he had finished eating, he went for his afternoon lessons at a language centre. After which, he heads back home.
Nicholas, like many other commuters, was waiting impatiently for the next arriving train to come. The same scene happened again… People were moving a few inches across the yellow line when they spot an oncoming train on its way. Humans are wonderful creatures. They could see their target from a great distance but not things that were just around them. Nicholas was carrying his bulky and seemingly heavy bag with his back bent. He thrust out his feet, one at a time, rolling his ankles to loosen the aching muscles. Later, he too, was anxiously crowding over the platform door to board the train, praying fervently for a seat to be left for him.
Nicholas spotted one seat left by a little girl who had just alighted. His natural reaction was to fight for that seat. He dashed forward for the seat and unknowingly shoved a pregnant lady, inferred from the size of her tummy, away and she almost lost her balance. Luckily, a brawny man managed to hold her in the nick of the time to prevent her from reaching the floor with a thud. It was too late. Everyone on the train was glaring at him disapprovingly, snatching a seat with a helpless pregnant lady. Nicholas lowered his head, truly embarrassed. His face was fiery red and burning hot, how he wished that the floor would open up and swallow him as he dreaded being humiliated in the public. Nicholas stood up and walked to one side and offered the seat to the pregnant lady as an apology. He regretted for being “kiasu” just for one seat.
A typical characteristic of Singaporeans is being “kiasu”. However, being “kiasu” is not always bad. “Kiasuness” is a type of motivation that keeps us driving in order to strive for excellence. Although some people may be egocentric, but some otherwise. In cases like that, some people will just be gracious enough to give up their seat or share their seats with strangers during bustling hours. Singapore is a place where eating is not only a national passion but an incurable addiction. A cosmopolitan city like ours is a melting pot of different cuisine from all around the world. That makes Singapore win the title of “world of food” (my own makeup). Remember to treat “kiasuness” as a sense of motivation that drives you on the right path and be gracious to people every day no matter who they are or their status!
988 words 😀