Finally my colleague sat down and told me she had ordered some really nice ginger tea for me. It was surprisingly bustling for a Monday office-houred morning with quite a handful of people at the eatery. Amidst our presence, there were the usual wailings and morning greetings and the “semi-friendly” smiles from the stall owners. I would empathize, for it is not easy to be merry when you were scooping noodles up the boiling pot every other second.
So we sat down to enjoy the breakfast. It is not very usual that we have this kind of opportunity. But we did. So, cracking the half-boiled eggs, we began to share how our weekend went to lighten the blues for the day.
Then from the corner of my eye, I saw this little boy sitting by the pavement. He was quite rangy and not quite clean although his clothes were not tattered or torn. His folks were probably somewhere in the crowd or maybe even a stall owner. He was playing with a few sweets, tossing them in the air and trying to catch them again. I watched in amusement as he threw a small tantrum whenever he missed the sweet and fell onto the ground. And at a point, I literally laughed out loudly that he noticed me. He continued to play with all the candies and finally he managed to catch the one he threw in midair. He was elated and with his happiness, I applauded in encouragement.
The little boy stood up and came over to me and colleague and without a word, he placed a sweet on the table in front of me and pointed at me. It was for me. Before I could thank him, he chuckled and went off.
As I picked up the sweet, my colleague shook her head. She reckoned that it may be filthy and asked me to put it away.
“But it is a gift for me”, I told her.
I remember many years ago, when I headed the Community Service and Development Pillar for a particular tertiary institution, I used to travel a lot to the third world countries. We would collect old clothes and stuff for the orphans in these third world regions and then along with our expeditions, we would present to them as tokens of visits.
I remember too there was this instance I had a sweet in my hand and I gave it to an orphan and his elder brother. After taking the sweets, he clasped his hands and closed his eyes and bowed for a while, then smiled and went away. I told his elder brother what a polite thanking gesture.
His brother told me that was not a thanking gesture.
The little boy clasped his hands, and bowed before me not just to thank me, but in a silent prayer to thank God for my presence in his life and the generosity he received, and at the same time to ask for kind blessings to be given to me for giving him something and loving him.
“We Khmer people believe you give only when you love.” He said.
I looked at the sweet in my hand again. I believe too. And it is a wonderful feeling to be loved.