It was a hot summer day. A bit too hot for my liking, I admit. I was walking towards a bus station with a heavy backpack pressing on my shoulder and another bag in my hand. Just 100 meters more to go and I would be there. On my right side, there was a construction site. The air was humid, and I felt all sticky with sweat and dust. I remembered that I had packed some wet tissues that will help me refresh a bit when I’d take my seat on the bus.
With a slow pace, I continued walking. I kept telling myself ‘Just a few more minutes and I will be comfortable again’. It would be useless calling a cab for such a short distance. I looked around and there was no one I could ask for help with my luggage. It was then when I noticed a little girl trying to get my attention.
“Miss,” she said. My first thought was that she was going to ask for money. She looked about seven or eight years old, dressed in dirty worn off clothes, and had greasy, dusty, tangled long brown hair. Her sparkling chocolate eyes were the spotlight of her outside characteristics. Her overall first appearance could easily mislead one, given that such fake image is commonly used for generating immediate sympathy towards roadside help-seekers and prompting one to extend help. Still, I stopped and decided to listen to what she had to say, and was even prepared to give her a few bucks. ‘Just an innocent child with unhealthy, poor living conditions,’ I thought.
“Can you please help me?” she asked pointing out towards a bicycle next to her. I must have been quiet
for a bit while she continued talking.
“I need you to hold hard on this back wheel,” and it was then when I actually noticed how dusty it was. ‘I’m not touching that,’ I told myself. The bicycle seemed to have known better days.
“It is too dirty,” I decided to speak up my thoughts. I really not wanted additional filth on my already sweaty hands.
“Don’t worry, there is the water for that,” she said in a serious tone. That made me smile instantly as I realized she was right. I might have been still surprised by her request though. I was expecting her to beg for money when in reality she only wanted my help with fixing her bicycle. She was trying to pull the seat up as it was too low for her height.
“My little sister rode it last, and I can’t bring it up,” she explained while pulling hard to lift it while I was pushing down the bicycle. Seeing how hard it was for her, and the seat not budging I suggested that we switch places. In order to do that I had to put my bag on the bench next to the bicycle. I needed both of my hands to do the task. While using my strength to lift the seat I was keeping an eye on my bag and belongings within. You never know what kind of trick this could be; getting my attention on the bike while some other person could come and steal my belongings.
Looking back in retrospect, I am not proud of my such thoughts. Unfortunately, it is only a kind of reflex as I’ve experienced many times in my life or heard other people’s stories of such happenings.
“That will be enough,” she said when the attained height of the seat seemed satisfactory to her.
“There you have,” I said wiping off the sweat from my forehead with the back side of my hand. I grabbed my bag and I was ready to move on.
“What’s your name?” she asked in her sweet young voice.
“Nico, what’s yours?”
“I’m Emilia,” she answered with an innocent expression.
“Thank you, Nico, for your help,” she said while hopping on her bike. Off she rode. We smiled and waved at each other one more time, and I continued walking. I saw her crossing the street on my left side and then I didn't look anymore.
“Goodbye, Nico!” I heard a voice from a distance.
“Goodbye, Emilia,” I yelled. I waved back and smiled. I knew she wouldn't be able to see my face from the distance but the scene really touched my heart.
It felt good to help, I was glad I didn't fall entirely into the trap of the bad past experiences. I was definitely more dusty and sweaty but as Emilia said: “There is nothing that water wouldn’t clean.” And water we are blessed with.
Today I’m thankful for the water and to all the people out there who will always prove that appearances are misleading, most of the times.
My apologies to the little girl, and to those I will misjudge in future. I know I will. I promise though that they can still count on my help while making me realize over and over again that my bad experiences were only the exceptions.
"In hope of a world, that does not celebrate the fake & the cold
In hope of a world where true emotions can be uphold
In hope of a world where truth is told
In hope of the world where sugar coated abuses are not sold
In hope of a world that does not force you to fit in & fold
In hope of a world where tears are allowed to unfold
You are not told to fake happy when your heart can no longer hold
In the hope of a world that doesn’t go numb & cold,
While faking positivity & not being bold
In hope of that world where you & I can be true to our core
We are not judged for being human
And not expected to be a bot, running on a computer code
Let the beauty of true emotions and the warmth of real unfold
Sweet, sour, bitter, happy, sad, high, low, cold
Sincere bonds and true connects
Let us not turn the world into a fake emotion(less) zone"
by Vanashree Yadav