Back in February, the company I’m freelancing for had an event that was focused on Love of a different sort. I took the liberty of using the event’s title as the title for this blog post. Instead of writing about romantic love, we were asked to write about an event that really touched our hearts or someone else’s. And since it was a contest, we had to make sure that our stories were the best. The thing is, it wasn’t just any fictional story. We had to write about something that happened in real-life, someone we knew or saw who did a kindness for others. We could also write about our own kindnesses to our fellow men. Each entry was judged accordingly and winners were announced in the middle of March. This was my entry. It won the third spot and made a few of my colleagues teary-eyed.
My 6-year old daughter often feels sorry for the beggars who hang around outside the malls and supermarkets. Because of that, she’d never fail to urge me to hand a few coins over to them or she’d tell me to give them whatever food she’s eating at the moment. She actually has this unreasonable fear that they might grab her and take her to some faraway place and she’d never see us again, so no matter how deep her pity is, she would never dare get her hand near any of them.
Then one day, I picked her up from school and took her to the supermarket for some grocery shopping. Early on, I laid out the rules: no toys or unnecessary stuff, just groceries and school supplies. To my surprise, she said yes right away. She actually saved her day’s allowance in anticipation of purchasing her own toys. Note: these are toys that she’d been nagging me to buy for her for the longest time. She managed to save P30, P15 from the morning’s allowance, and P15 in the afternoon. Not much, but a good amount for the kind of toys she wanted to buy. A bag of marbles, a small stack of cards, rubber bands, etc… So we went our merry way.
As usual, there were beggars aplenty at the steps leading to the supermarket’s entrance. One in particular was an elderly Badjao lady who was so grimy you could barely see the color of her clothes, except that it was black from soot. She was also reed-thin and her voice was hoarse. The dirty water bottle lying on the dirty mat was empty. I waited for the usual request na ‘Ma, bigyan mo ng 5 yung lola’ (Ma, give 5 pesos to that lady). But none came. I got engrossed inside the supermarket and forgot to take note of what my daughter chose to buy for herself using her hard-earned money. Then payment time came. I didn’t see a single toy on the cart. And my daughter still had her 20-peso bill and the 2 pieces of 5-peso coins clutched tight in her hand. I asked her if she wanted to buy anything. She didn’t answer me but just kept her head bowed. On our way out, she finally raised her face to me. I could see that tears were threatening to fall. I could see where all this was going. She told me ‘Ma, wait lang’. Then she went over to the Badjao lady, handed over her money and said ‘O lola, you can buy water na po'(Here’s some money Ma’am, so you can buy some water). My heart melted right then and there.
The old lady thanked my daughter profusely in the Badjao dialect. I couldn’t understand most of the words, but from what I gathered, I understood that the lady was asking that my daughter be blessed for the rest of her life. My kid was crying and smiling at the same time. And when I told her I’d just pay for whatever toy she wanted, she declined and asked that we go home. ‘Madami pa naman po akong toys sa house eh.’ (It’s ok, I’ve got lots of toys at home anyway)
I’m just hoping that as a mother, I never forget to nurture my daughter’s kind heart while she’s growing. I hope I’d have the strength not to give in to the temptation of poisoning her mind about the plight of the homeless that litter the streets begging for scraps of mercy the way my own mind was poisoned years ago.
Cheers to hope and to love and to kind-hearted 6-year olds who can also be smartasses sometimes!