The hustle and bustle between these four walls began to become mildly overwhelming. I could not believe I was back. Three and a half months of pure relaxation – well nearly any way – had got me use to “this worriless lifestyle.”
I wondered what fascinating things this year would bring. Last year was a little more eventful than I could handle but nonetheless I managed to actually get through the hardships by the skin of my teeth; basically unscathed. So in retrospect I knew that the time had come to tackle a new year and moreover, a new start. But I still wanted to moan and groan for the comfort of my bed.
Third Year… Final Year… One step away from having an actual degree under my belt… Yes… “Gosh, I hope so…” is all I can think of. As usual the small anxieties that come with knowing that the end is neigh definitely have a way of taking one by surprise when one least expects it. As day one continues to pulsate and I finally manage to gather my thoughts, get all my times, buy all my books and make my way out toward the parking lot; something catches my eye and distracts me. Something I would never expect, well not here anyway.
A young boy… his eyes gaunt with hunger scrounging through one of the dustbins just off the University campus, he has no shoes and his clothes are torn. He cannot be more than nine or ten. This site strikes a chord within me… Not again… This poverty – it’s everywhere; they stand by nearly every traffic light in Town. It is sad and disturbing. Out of nowhere anger begins to pulsate through me. Pain grips me, knowing that our “beloved” Head of States build a home with billions and this little boy and so many others cannot get a morsel of food. Live on less than a dollar a day. How degrading it must be to have to dig inside a dustbin just to find something. Anger strikes through me again.
Without thinking I run toward my car, speeding as fast as I can; the wind whipping through my hair. I promptly press the unlock button. “Where is it…? Where is it?” There…I see it! I see it! Excitement starts to flood through me. I pick it up and run toward the pedestrian gate as I see the boy walking away from the trash can with something small held tightly within his hand, as if life itself depends on it. I swipe my card and run out. “Hey! Hey!” I call. I run out toward him trying to grab his attention forgetting the many dangers that lie outside the University walls, “little boy! Wait…” I finally catch up to him. “Here – it’s all I have on me but I hope it helps.” I smile at him.
He snatches the chip packet and water hungrily and is about to turn away when suddenly a smile spreads across his face; completely changing his distorted bony features for just a minute. “Siabonga Sissie.” He says quietly and turns away. As I walk back towards the University gate I hear a loud shout, “Sissie…Sissie!” I turn around and feel a pair of arms grip my waist holding tightly, “Siabonga! Siabonga!” says the muffled voice. He lets go and hot, wet tears stream down my face. His beautiful smile rains down on me. “No cry Sissie… No cry!” He hugs me again and leaves me standing there mildly in shock.
I slowly let myself back into the University wishing I had more to give but relieved that I was able to help even a little bit. Grateful for the things I have… grateful for the fact that I am lucky enough, by the grace of G-d that I have hot meals every day, grateful for the roof over my head and grateful that I am being afforded the opportunity to have an education. A sense of guilt comes over me as I realize how often I take all the wonderful things that I am blessed with in my life for granted. Something that many of us, me included, are guilty of almost every day.
As I drive out of the university toward the main street, I catch a glimpse of the little boy with three or four children surrounding him. I have just a second to watch him hand out some chips and water to them with that stunning smile still plastered to his face. I am gobsmacked that this young man is so willing to give and share something so small with so many others so that they can share in this pleasure too.
It gets me thinking and makes me realize that we can all make a difference, no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us has a part to play in this world that we call “our own.” Moreover each of us has the ability to change a life even if it is just for a minute, an hour or a day – For one never can tell the rippling effect that may come out from doing just the smallest act of kindness.