Like any other kid at that time, i too had my own childhood hero. From a super powered alien called Superman, to a wealthy billionaire with such sophisticated gadgets like Batman, to a web crawling college student named Spiderman, the cape crusaders were definitely every childhood hero indeed. You will wear a towel tied onto your neck to feel like Batman, or try on a mask and swing here to there like Spiderman, or even wear a red spender outside your pants and think that you are Superman, just to dream that you are the hero and idol that you always wish you were.
However, as time pass by, the heroes that you idolized and worship too had swift away from your life. No longer was those “impossible” super human characters like Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Cicak Man, Teman Tapi Mesra or Chempiang to be regarded as my saviour, but now, i finally found my true hero, someone who was actually present in the life and reality of human beings, and made differences to their life. Although he had no “special powers” like the previous list, nor smart and good looking enough to build up a fan club like the likes of Beckham, Brad Pitt or even Faridul Farhan, but his contribution, sacrifice and more importantly character, made him stand alone second to none. He did though share a quite similar “trademark” like the others; he did have the “man” trademark inside of his name like Superman, Batman and Spiderman. His name, was Mandela. Nelson Mandela.
I was at the teenage age then, a transaction period from childhood life to becoming a man myself. Yet, heroes still have a special place in the heart in all of us. Hence, meeting Mandela at such a crucial stage, at an age where you start giving up on your heroes and therefore changing your entire life, which led many to the life of the criminals your hero always fought off, was indeed a special gift God had given to me. Mandela was just freed from long time prison, yet still continuing to fight injustice and immorality even behind bars, which led him to become a world rather than nation hero: becoming the first black President which the apartheid ancestors saw as their worst nightmare. He was kind, polite, full of strength, and had this charisma which every super hero should have. He spoke of humanity and building up a nation, such spirit that made him sound far younger than the grey hair on top of his head. His words could hypnotise anyone who dared to hear them. In a sudden, he became my new hero.
You don’t need to have physical strength to help people. Nor require super-human-powers like flying, shooting lasers from your eye or bending yourself like a plastic just to fight injustice. What you really need is a pure heart, because from the heart, the beautiful story shall begin its journey. You will see sacrifices made by these pure hearted people, just for the sake of others, even if it means they need to finish their rest of their life behind bars, for instance. You shall see people getting back their dignity and start to have hope once again, as these pure hearted heroes bring back the meaning of life to all of them. Yet they are regular human beings, like you and i, only for the heart to bring the difference not just to them, but for humanity to witness upon and carve inside the history books. How true was the Prophet Muhammad when he too said that it is the heart which determines thing: whether you end up as a good person, or finish you life as a villain.
Thank you Mandela for being my long life hero. You always reserve a special place inside my heart. Always.
p/s – this essay was written to fulfill my English Class assignment themed “my experience”. However, the experience is fiction as i have never met up with Nelson Mandela before in my entire life!