Day One

I finally made it to the gym today and hit my first five kilometres of the year. Exhausted from running, I thought I’d hang out to write at this quiet spot in the lobby of the gym – a spot I’d never got to use the last four years I was there. Little did I expect to be touched by a stranger’s simple act of kindness so early in the morning.

 

Despite my lack of eyebrows, hair tangled into a single dreadlock and face flushed to the likeness of Mars, the cutest little (two-year-old) man smiles at me and waves. I feel loved.

Next to me, a granddad struggles to make out the tiny numbers on the finance pages of the Chinese papers.

He calls out to the cleaning lady suddenly. His voice is strong, and belies his frail, pale exterior. The domestic help chasing after the tiny tots stop in their tracks and everyone falls silent, waiting to see what transpires.

“你是新来的?”

“嗯。第一天。”

She does not seem that much younger than Grandpa. But she becomes awkward instantly.

Did I do something wrong unknowingly?

Grandpa waves something at her, almost nonchalantly.

It is an angbao.

She accepts it, half bowing and half nodding; her face beaming. He is but a stranger to her – it is her first day after all.

Grandpa goes back to his papers immediately, averting the briefest of eye contact; as if he is embarrassed by his own gift.

Perhaps he is afraid of appearing extraordinarily kind. To him, it is just a simple gesture – to welcome her, and put her at ease. Perhaps he felt that his act of kindness is reward itself – and her gratitude, no matter now sincere, is undeserving.

 

Thank you for the reminder, Grandpa. You’ve made my morning.

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