Guy Changes Opinion About ‘Weird’ Man After Learning He Got A Degree With Only Half Of His Brain

Public transport is a special space; for a brief period the lives of a few strangers intersect and the opportunity for serendipitous encounters arises. Most of us pass the time studiously avoiding social contact by staring at our phones, books or a newspaper. Nobody really wants to be that person, do they?

But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. Behind the mask, we all hide fascinating stories and you just never know what that human sitting next to you has been through. Sometimes, that person can inspire you, teach you something new, or even become the love of your life. Face-to-face human contact is good for us in so many ways; we are social animals after all, and in these days of online isolation, it’s needed more than ever!

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This encounter, which happened on a train in Singapore, is proof that it’s always wise to give a chatty stranger a chance. Twitter user Minionman was approached by a man who complimented his shirt, but “acting kinda off and looking at me weirdly.” At first, Minionman was ready to walk away and brush it off as just another undesirable situation. But something told him to stay, and he met the miracle that is Takalah Tan.

“My initial intentions to shrug him off gave way to feelings of compassion and empathy as he began recounting his story, and eventually pure respect for the man as it began to dawn on me how much of an ordeal he’d been through,” Minionman told Bored Panda.  “I regretted having to leave the train in the end.”

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Talakah Tan was unstoppable as a young man: a commando, a lightweight boxing champion, a triathlete, a skydiver, a bungee-jumper and a scuba-diver all rolled into one. He also had a great education and a job all lined up, when tragedy struck.

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“My surgeon told me that at one stage, I had only 0.1 percent chance of survival! I lost one-third of my blood and I urgently needed a blood transfusion. Due to the available donated blood, I survived,” Takalah himself explained in an interview with the Red Cross.

“With my brain infected and having had a life-threatening fever of 46°C, I am grateful to still be alive! When I was warded in the ICU, I was rushed to the surgical theatre on seven occasions to remove recurrent blood-clots that dangerously pressed upon the area between my skull and brain, hence suffocating my brain! After discharge, I underwent costly dental treatments before I could go through seven cranial-facial surgeries for the reconstruction of my deformed face; three of which involved a multi-disciplinary surgical task-force: dental, craniofacial and ophthalmology.”

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Soon after the accident, with Talakah in the tentative stages of recovery, another tragedy hit the family – Talakah’s father died of a heart attack. “I felt my father shouldn’t have forsaken his heart-bypass appointment!” he said. “He loved me so much he would rather visit me in hospital than to have my family run between two hospitals. During the first few months after my father’s passing, I contemplated suicide.”

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Despite all the negativity suddenly flooding into his life, Takalah dug down into his strength and resolve to turn it around and keep on fighting. “I told myself that my father died to pay my debts, so I must keep improving myself; to henceforth be ‘A lighted-beacon in troubled waters – to bring people to safer shores,” he said. “I had to grow up through the different ages again, and do so most speedily! I had to learn about my life before the accident. From the number of trophies and awards in my cabinet, I learned that I used to be very active in sports and organizational endeavors.”

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True to his name (Takalah means “can’t lose” in Malay), this great man is still smiling, learning, inspiring and ultimately succeeding in picking up the pieces of his former life. He now works as a motivational speaker while working to regain full fitness, and regularly donates blood to the Red Cross. He is living proof that courage, strength and a never-say-die attitude can overcome even the most extreme hardship!

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Minionman’s Tweet has been retweeted almost 70k times, engaging and inspiring countless others with the story of Takalah Tan. It really is amazing what one random encounter can do, if both parties are willing to engage and be open with each other. Next time a stranger approaches you for a chat, maybe give them a chance!

“This man’s life came crashing down just as it was about to peak, and everything he knew, things we take for granted on a daily basis, was stripped away from him almost overnight,” Minionman summed up for Bored Panda. “Yet when I met him, he was on the way to deliver provisions to a young girl, another sufferer of brain injury. He really is the gift to the world that keeps on giving.”

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