A lesson in humility from 2004 tsunami miracle baby’s family

It was by chance that I went to Miami Café in Batu Ferringhi during a recent trip to Penang.

My friends Lindsey Sta Maria and his wife Valerie happened to be on the island at the same time for a working holiday and we met up at the cafe.

But this article is not about them. It’s about miracle girl S. Thulaasi, 16.

Thulaasi made international headlines when she was washed out to the sea on her baby mattress during the devastating tsunami on Dec 26, 2004. She was only 22 days old then.

Miraculously, a second wave brought her back to the shore, still on her mattress and still asleep.

All that has been reported repeatedly over the years. But what was new for me when I met Thulaasi and her family was how they have handled the worldwide attention all these years.

Thulaasi was helping out at her father A. Suppiah’s café when I spoke to her. She came across as a shy smiling girl who just wants to get on with her life and be out of the limelight.

The Convent Pulau Tikus student is in Form Four now and plans to travel extensively later on in life.

Suppiah, 71, while brimming with pride as Thulaasi is a bright student, remained humble.

He could have also achieved a “financial miracle” by capitalising on his daughter’s fame but he did nothing like that.

Instead, he rebuilt his shophouse at the shore after the tsunami and life has always been simple and easy-going.

“The tsunami caused damage worth RM62,000. I had to start over from scratch but the money is nothing as I still have my family safe and sound.

“That’s all that matters,” said Suppiah, whose other daughter Kanchana, 28, also survived the tsunami by holding on to some plants when the big wave came in.

By now, I was trying to hold back my tears. It was such a joy to see this family being so practical about how to live their lives despite what they have been through.

Suppiah still keeps some of the newspaper articles which reported the story of Thulaasi’s miracle.

Some of the newspaper cuttings which Suppiah still keeps.

But the real miracle for me that day was a lesson in humility and simplicity.

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