A few months after sitting for his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination, Khairuldin Mazli, 26, was found to suffer from glaucoma. It began with him having blurry vision accompanied by a lingering headache.
“I did a thorough medical check-up and when told that I was suffering from glaucoma, I was crestfallen. It’s as if my whole world had fallen apart. I was then referred to an eye specialist at Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital, Ipoh for treatment,” said Khairuldin or Khai.
The hospital became his second home. Khai’s vision was completely lost, three years later, when he was 20.
Glaucoma not only affects Khai but his entire family. It is his family’s support that makes the difference. The poor guy underwent a period of depression but with family by his side, he rebounded.
“I had to give up my nine-to-five job and everything else that I had, including my car.
“It’s hard to lose a part of yourself. I was afraid people would look at me differently and spent nearly two years avoiding people and fearing what my future would be,” he recalled.
Since then Khai has been depending on handouts and was wallowing in self-pity. In 2013, his father introduced him to the Malaysian Association for the Blind, Perak Chapter at Gunung Rapat, Ipoh. He pursued a course in computers and obtained a Certificate in Computer Basics, six months later.
In 2014, he furthered his studies at the association’s headquarters in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur and did practical training in customer service at the Petaling Jaya Municipal Council.
“Losing my eyesight wasn’t the end of the world. It’s definitely an inconvenience but I want people to know that you can still be useful to society,” he said.
Who would have thought Khai was once a national futsal player? He represented Malaysia at many international tournaments. He played at the 2016 Rio Paralympic qualifying rounds. Unfortunately, the national team lost to Iran and did not qualify for the Rio Games. He also represented the country at the Hong Kong and Japan Open. The team won bronze in Hong Kong.
“Centralised training is in KL. I’ve to travel back and forth by train, alone. Playing futsal is fun but it comes with a cost. I made a decision to quit in 2016,” Khai lamented.
In order to fill the time, he began learning reflexology techniques seriously. Today, he does not have to depend on anyone, as he makes a steady income with his bare hands. He is a foot masseur and has stationed himself at Ipoh’s iconic park, the Polo Ground. His father accompanies him when he is out at work.
And having been at work for almost a year now, Khai has made a name for himself. Response was very encouraging since the day he began his massaging business. Woo, 66, one of his many loyal customers would come for her ‘foot treatment’ twice a month.
“When I’m little late and couldn’t get his service, I’ll look him up the following day,” she said.
For Khai, it is a dream come true. He aspires to own his own shop where he can operate his massage business more appropriately. “I’m working hard towards it. Hopefully, I’ll succeed.”
Readers wanting to try his reflexology service can look him up at Polo Ground from Saturday to Thursday between 7am to 11am. He charges a moderate fee of RM20 for a 30-minute massage. Khai also operates from a stall at Meru Downtown in Bandar Meru Raya from 8pm until midnight daily.