“I’m paying it forward now, with you.”

For nearly a month now, I’ve been giving rides to the intern living in my house whenever our other housemate isn’t able to. Today on our way back after picking her up, she told me that someday when she has children, she’ll raise them well as – what sounded like – penance for the debts that she is accumulating during this internship of hers. “The number of rides I’ve gotten from people,” she mused, sounding guilty, “I don’t know how and when I can repay them.” I laughed – not unkindly – when I heard this then proceeded to tell her not to worry; the time will eventually come.

“It took me four years,” I said. “I’m paying it forward now, with you.” I smiled gently, trying to reassure her, before continuing, “And really, don’t worry. I spent a lifetime hitching rides. I’m not talking about ten weeks in Miri four years ago but literally – a lifetime. I didn’t drive until I came home for good last year, y’know? That’s twenty-four years of freeloading. If I were to try to quantify them as penance, like you’re thinking now – aw man. I’m doomed.” 

“The time will arrive.”

Because – and she’ll find this out someday, I’m certain – life has a strange way of coming full circle. And just as important a life lesson: one has to learn what it feels like to be at the receiving end of kindness before becoming kindness itself.

“There’s a time for receiving, and there’s also a time for giving. You’ll pay this forward someday soon enough, trust me.”

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