An honours student, Michaela is doing a circadian rhythm study on rats. This girl is also my Lab mate. The nature of her project will therefore involves tissue collection at odd hours, including at 7.45pm, and 1.30 am etc. so she asked around if anyone is free to help her with the tissue collection. ( trust me, this is something that you could never do alone). Immediately when her email arrived in my outlook, I volunteered to help out during the 1.30 am sessions. I know, it’s in the midnight but I live the nearest to the university and travelling to the uni at that hour is not a problem to me..( especially if you have to go back and then return to work the next morning)… It never occurs to me that helping the poor honours student at that hour might pose a problem at all. but Brendan’s research assistant was reluctant to let me help. her intention was good.. because I am a PhD student myself, and the project that I am helping does not have anything to do with my work, so I will be literally “wasting my precious PhD time” when I help her.
Shocking, really… I told Jess, that “It’s ok Jess, you don’t have to come during this early morning sessions because I live nearby.. I can help, I want to help.” But Intan, you also have your own lab work to do in the morning and we don’t want to burden you…” “ thanks for the thought Jess, but helping Michaela for at the most 2 hours is not really a burden to me at all. today I help her, tomorrow, when I need help, someone will help me”… “ yes, I know what goes around comes around, but when you are doing your collection, Michaela won’t be around to help you at all, is it worth it for you to help her now when there is a research assistant being paid to do the work like me?” “huh? it never occurs to me that Michaela will help me, I would’ve thought that once she finishes her honours, she’ll be long gone, which is no where near my collection date… But God sees me doing a good deed voluntarily to a friend today, tomorrow, he’ll send help when I least expect it,” Jess and my co-supervisor Pete was speechless. I don’t know what they were thinking, but they were silent for a good 30 seconds before saying “ thanks, Intan… “ and I got to help Michaela for the 1.30 am sessions, no hurdle.
Now, what did I learn from the incident? Although the concept of “what goes around comes around” is pretty familiar in many religions across various cultures, but the understanding of this beautiful ad-din is still very vague in many. people don’t help anybody if they do not gain from it either directly (e.g getting a payment) or indirectly (e.g, getting the person being helped to help back in return) It feels good that I managed to teach 2 good friends about the beauty of Islamic concept of “when i help someone today, tomorrow Allah’ll help me” I can’t help but to feel even more scared to ask other people for help because if there is no worldly gain for them, their act will be insincere…and we know well enough what an insincere act will end up with….. Nauzubillah.