Friday, August 28, 2009

Returned With Interest

by Rachel Devlin

With a group of colleagues, I traveled to the north of Thailand – Chiang Rai. I loved the heat, the chaotic streets, the busy markets and the smell of Thai cuisine.

One day, I set off from my hotel to find a temple that intrigued me. The heat of the midday sun was oppressive as I walked past some building works. I did a double take as I glanced between two unfinished buildings. There, an old woman in traditional clothing lay on the dusty rubble. The terrible thought crossed my mind that she might be dead.

Feeling quite helpless, I approached her. Her face was well wrinkled and sun-kissed. She looked quite beautiful but very ill. As a reflex, I reached into my pocket to find some money. Tentatively, I pushed it into her hand. It was enough money for her to survive for a few months. I felt like the “kind stranger”.

Without a common language, she looked at me with the wisdom and pity that could burn into a soul. She weakly pushed back the money. I was left shocked. Her eyes were mocking me. It took at least a kilometer of walking to realize I was quite the fool. She didn’t need money. She needed shade, a bottle of water and possibly some human comfort.

That evening, I sat analysing my material version of “kindness”. This beautiful woman had given me something that I will carry for the rest of my life. When I look back upon the experience, I hope my face carries that same wise smile that once mocked me.

Courtesy: Reader’s Digest

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