of strangers and kindness.

During finals week last quarter, I camped in the small library at the religious center where a middle-aged man and an aspiring doctor often kept me company. He was an early bird – I’d come in anytime between 9 to 11 AM and find him already comfortably seated – while she’d enter in the evening and stayed till near-midnight.

In the days that followed, we naturally established a pattern as we kept to our respective routines. We’d greet each other briefly and dive back into our respective workload. The silence that surrounded us however, was a surprisingly serene tune.

During our brief breaks, we’d chat; I spoke openly about family and whatnot, exchanged little details that I strangely never gave second thoughts about. The first time they saw my cheat sheets, both had gasped in surprise at how intense and colorful they looked. Both were also in awe at my ability to stay focused for long hours; I spurred and motivated them to keep on going, they claimed.

All week-long, we formed an unlikely kind of camaraderie; friendship? I don’t know.

Fast forward to the new term and when I bumped into the girl on the first day of school, it was she who spotted and remembered me first as she hugged me so dearly, then proceeded to ask how my exams went and seemed genuinely thrilled to hear about Las Vegas. Days later I bumped into the man who like her, noticed me first and greeted me so warmly and now does so each time we cross paths. It’s always him who’d notice me first, bellowing a friendly hello or tapping me on the shoulder.

Kindness is something I can never quite grasp yet ironically keep finding myself at the receiving end; they’re technically strangers but treat me with a closeness that is still absent with even my closest friends here. Their appearance in my life is dare I say, at the nick of time. God’s timing is perfect, indeed. At that time I was at my low’s low, intensely disliked being here and was in a losing battle with loneliness.

Although things are better, to be honest until now I don’t know what to make of their kindness – I don’t even know their names! – but the sap in me kind of wants to cry.

Maybe God sends angels in the form of strangers?

Sometimes I think I put my heart on my sleeve too easily, vulnerable to a fault and unsurprisingly, seldom do people reciprocate. Often, I’m left trying to pick myself up and move forward from embarrassment. So it moves me in ways I can’t easily put to words, this affirmation of how little it actually takes to affect another so magnanimously. A simple act of kindness truly goes a long, long way; never doubt that.

I hope you take this to heart, and attempt to live by it. Of the many kinds of strangers we can be to unsuspecting souls – let’s be the kindest ones possible.

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