As fireworks raged in the distance and New Bridge Road rumbled under the feet of ecstatic Lunar New Year revelers, a strange hand reached out from the shadows and touched me from among the throngs of humanity. Thinking it was a beggar or unwelcome solicitor, I instinctively waved the intruder off with an air of indifference, as I continued my march down the street. After walking a few steps I stopped and turned around, overcome by an odd feeling of remiss. An old man was standing there, staring at me. ‘Help me … please’, he said, as swarms of people whisked to and fro, practically transforming him into a blur. An elderly woman was standing by the man’s side, her arm wrapped tightly in his, both of them frozen in front of a rather deep curb that he could not manage to transgress. I made my way through the crowd and joined his side, clutching his arm to brace him as he slowly made his way down the curb to the walkway below. That was all he wanted – a simple helping hand – and I nearly completely ignored him.
Sometimes we go through life programmed to avoid…to disengage…to shut our eyes. We trudge along our little paths, in our personal zones of semi-apathy, understandably worried about our jobs, our fortunes and our families. At times like these it seems our senses get dulled and our curiosity diminished by the ravages of reality. Yet, if we disconnect ourselves from the brotherly touch of humanity, we may fail to see sparks of inspiration that can help us overcome the darkness of the day. When walking through the forest of life too fast, one can miss some very beautiful trees along the way.
Safely on firm ground, the elderly man looked up at me and managed a broad smile, despite the pain from his failing legs. ‘Thank You’, he said, as the couple moved on into the night. It is amazing the magic that those two simple words possess, stirring a feeling of intense warmth that no fire possible could.
For me, on that night, Chinese New Year took on a special meaning. Beyond the festivities, past the fanfare and apart from the reunions, the uncle on the street taught me an additional purpose of the holiday: to freshen the mind, open the eyes and enlarge the heart with a simple act of kindness.
Submitted by John S. Hamalian, a Singapore PR (originally from USA) who has lived in Singapore for over 7 years.
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