“Thanks. I'll definitely include a tip,” the passenger promised as he stepped out of the car and set off for the shopping mall. Khalid merely smiled, knowing that more than half of his clients usually forgot to keep their promise as soon as they had stepped out of his hired car. He didn't hold it against any of them; he knew what a fast-paced world we lived in. His phone pinged. It was another Uber passenger, this one a mere three minutes away from his current location. He quickly accepted the booking; at this time of the year, competition was brutal. Fortunately, he hadn't been doing too badly this month, but he was still behind with his rent. “Listen, raghead,” his landlord had told him that morning, using the derogatory label he often flung at Khalid, a refugee from Sudan. “If tonight you don't pay the full rent you owe me, expect to find your crap on the street tomorrow morning. I give you till ten tonight, you hear?” Khalid had remained silent, knowing that it would be useless to appeal to the man's sympathy, as he had none for “filthy job-stealing foreigners”. Khalid had resolved to get as many fares as he could today to make the payment. The client was a waif-like lady waiting outside Woolworths; she had a number of shopping bags surrounding her. Khalid hurriedly exited the car to load the bags into the back. “Thank you,” the woman beamed, clearly relieved for the help. “Every year I tell myself I won't leave things to the last minute,” she continued as she got into the passenger seat, “but inevitably, I end up doing exactly that.” “It's normal, isn't it?” Khalid said, instantly liking the woman's friendly nature. Laughing merrily, the woman said, “I doubt it's normal, but I suppose it's usual at this time of the year.” “True,” Khalid agreed. “It never ceases to surprise me how frantic people become at a time when they should have peace in their hearts.” “Absolutely true! We are so caught up in consumerism that we lose total sight of the real significance of this season. You don't celebrate this event, do you?” “No, I'm a Muslim, but we love and respect Jesus. He's a prophet in my religion, too.” “That's wonderful to know that you also love Him.” The woman kept up a light conversation with Khalid until they reached her destination. Before leaving, she added a tip on the phone app. “Thank you very much, ma'am,” Khalid said in genuine gratitude. The woman waved away his thanks. Khalid helped carry her bags to the front door, bid her a good night and got back into his car. He had hardly gone a few meters from her home when he noticed the small brown envelope on the passenger seat. “Oh, no. She's dropped something,” Khalid said before turning his car around to go back to the woman's house. She opened the door after his first knock, as if she had been expecting somebody. When she saw Khalid, she exclaimed, “You've found it then?” Khalid extended the envelope to her. “Yes, I knew it must be yours. I didn't open it,” he hastened to add. “But it's not mine,” the woman said, confusing Khalid. “It's yours.” “No, ma'am. It's definitely not mine,” Khalid stammered. “It is, young man. It's an annual tradition of mine, to gift somebody worthy on this holy night with such a gift. And I have a feeling there's none worthier right now than you. Please, keep it.” Khalid was flummoxed. “But why me? I'm nobody special.” “Oh, but you are. We are all special in our own way, and tonight I'm blessing you with this gift. I'm not taking it back; if you don't want to accept it, pass it on to somebody else.” “But I'm not a Christian, ma'am.” “So what? What kind of Christian would I be if I extended charity only to those of my own faith?” “God bless you,” Khalid managed to say over the lump in his throat. “God has blessed me, and that's exactly why I share this blessing each year at this time with some deserving stranger. Good night,” she said and closed the door of her brightly lit home from which peaceful sounds of a hymn flowed. Khalid walked back to the car like one dazed, expecting the other shoe to drop at any moment. He couldn't fathom why he had been chosen for such an unexpected gift, but then he said, “Dear God, thank You for Your favors.” He still had no sure idea what the envelope contained, but he could feel it might be money. Khalid arrived at his flat at nine thirty. He nearly returned to the woman's house once he finally opened the envelope and saw how much cash it contained. It was enough to cover two months' rent. With tear-filled eyes, Khalid looked at the star-studded night sky, wonder bubbling up in his chest like the sweetest spring from which he had ever drunk. “You are a miracle in and of Yourself, and only You can orchestrate the best, most miraculous plans for Your worshippers.” With a far less burdened heart and soul, he went to see the landlord. Bliss spread across his joyous heart in continuous waves of wondrous rapture.
Wayne started beating me five months into our marriage. Initially, it was simply an unexpected slap or a punch to the kidney. It was so unpredictable and out of character that I deemed it my fault. I reasoned that I must have brought it on myself, and that I deserved it. That naïve perspective changed when the abuse became far more regular and intense. After two further months of humiliating, soul-wrecking beatings, I finally walked out. I left with only the clothes on my back and firm resolve burning in my heart. I moved in with a friend, but I knew I needed help. “Speak to Mr. Eden,” Sinead advised me. “You know he's always been kind-hearted to us and helps everybody without hesitation,” she added persuasively. And that's how I ended up outside his office the next morning, clutching my college bag and courage firmly to my breast. Mr. Eden was the College Counselor, and one of the most unselfish men I had ever met. Not a single student had ever been turned away by this gentle, unassuming man. And I was about to ask him to not just go the extra mile, but to also go out on a limb for me. How classically clichéd. “Marina, come inside,” Mr. Eden invited me the minute he saw me. “Have a seat. How's life been treating you?” he asked innocently, but his tone and the innocuous question triggered a flood of sobs. I was embarrassed; I chastised myself for making such a spectacle of myself. Mr. Eden instantly took charge, soothing me with encouraging words and a soft tone. He offered me a bottle of water, which I gratefully accepted. I confided completely in him. I was surprised by the first words he said, but I shouldn't have been. “We need to get you into a women's shelter today. I know a place near the college. I will take you there after I've called them to give them a heads up, all right?” As if that wasn't enough, this amazing man then spread the word – with my permission – on the college WhatsApp group that a student needed donations of clothes, toiletries, food; the works. The response was overwhelming! Mr. Eden took me to the Saartje Baartman Women's Shelter, and they agreed to house me as well as try to resolve the problems Wayne and I were having by giving us marriage counselling. All absolutely free of charge! I received so many donations of barely-worn clothes, brand new underwear, toiletries and even money that I could give some of the things to Sinead to thank her for having granted me a safe haven when I had needed it. And the best thing of all? Wayne is a changed man. The couples therapy had opened his eyes, even bringing him to the point where he apologized tearfully to me for ever having lifted a hand to me. “You are a treasure, Marina,” Wayne said to me on the first night I returned home. He was holding me gently in his arms while he spoke in a voice shaking with emotion. “I nearly lost the most precious gift I had ever received, but I will never again be this careless.” “If not for Mr. Eden, both of us would have lost each other,” I said and smiled, feeling the heavy burdens lift off my shoulders like fog burned off by the warmth of a rising sun.
Ding-Dong! “Stand clear of the closing doors, please” blasted the announcer's voice across the station. Jonah had heard this everyday since he could remember. “3 stops till Kingston” he thought, carrying a backpack full of books that he dreaded carrying for hours on the commute to and back from school. Jonah kicked his feet back and forth, his feet grazing the ground just slightly. He stared at the creases on his shoes who's brand he couldn't recall. They were some off brands anyways, no reason to remember which ones. The subway screeched to a halt, the faces outside the car that were once blurred stare back at Jonah. People start to push and shove the minute the doors open. Running up the stairs to leave the station, a mirage of conversations, mumblings and people talking flood Jonah's senses. He can't really make out what they're saying, he doesn't really try. “Jonah! How was school?” Jonah's finally made it to his destination. A small deli run by an older Korean man and his daughter. The sign outside reads “Ray's Delicatessen” but most people here call it “Ray's”, “Mr. Park's”, “the Park/Park” or “the Deli”. For Jonah, he calls it “home”. “Fine Mr. Park! Same as always!” replied Jonah Mr. Park shook his head and chuckled as he continued to tend to other customers, “As long as you're not getting into trouble” It's become a routine, Mr. Park asks how he is and Jonah replies with fine no matter what. Jonah tries to not stress him out, he always hears Hannah, Mr. Park's daughter, complain about her forehead wrinkles, crows feet and smile lines. Jonah doesn't see a problem but still tries to avoid making them worse Jonah slips behind the checkout counter, he sits on the blue crate right under the cash register and starts his homework on his knees like usual. History, English, then Science and Math, hardest to easiest. Jonah loves closing up shop and definitely not just because he gets to eat some of the unsold bagels and sausages. “Ai *tsk* Jonah, you know you mustn't sit here” exclames Mr. Park. Jonah doesn't move, Mr. Park doesn't really care. Time passes, business has been slow these days but it only means more time for Mr. Park and Jonah to talk. The deli was not just a place to get a quick eat for Jonah after school, it was his place of refuge, one of love and community. He had somewhere to be and all Mr. Park asked for in return were English lessons and to use some of Jonah's beginner-level novels to practice his reading skills. Jonah knew Mr. Park stopped needing those lessons a long time ago and for those textbooks, Mr. Park still reads them. Even though he completed all of them, cover to cover, hundreds of times, it still gives those literary works a second life. And Jonah would never mind when Mr. Park read them outloud to him either, even when he pretended to hate it. Bed-time stories were for ‘babies' and not 8 and a half year-olds. Still, “Maybe these books aren't so bad” thought Jonah. For without them, their friendship would be lost in translation.
Joanne considered her options for supper: chicken soup with garlic bread, beef vegetable casserole with fluffy white rice, or some crumbed chicken fillet filled with pepper sauce? The thirty-two-year old college lecturer rolled her eyes heavenward, struggling to decide what to eat. “Nick!” she called to her nine-year-old son watching Jurassic World: Dominion on Netflix in the bedroom they shared. “What would you like for dinner tonight, buddy?” “What are the choices, Mom?” Nick asked as he walked into their tiny but neat kitchen. Joanne and Nick were living in a one-bedroom separate entrance since her divorce three years ago. Kevin, her ex-husband, had run up such huge debts that they couldn't continue staying in the house they had been renting. Once Kevin had lost his job, his behavior had changed. He became frustrated, started drinking too much, and developed a truly tempestuous temper. It was crystal clear to Joanne that their marriage was doomed. Divorce seemed the best route for her and Nick. Kevin had disappeared out of their lives after the divorce had been finalized as if he had only been a figment of their imagination. Nick had long ago stopped to ask after his father. “Well,” Joanne said, “we've got three leftover choices,” she said, listing the three dishes. During the Christmas season, Joanne tended to cook a number of dishes which she could warm up, saving her from having to cook every night. They often had a surplus of food though, forcing Joanne to either give away whatever they hadn't eaten to street beggars, or discarding the food. “Hmm, those are really hard choices, Mom,” Nick complained. “I know, honey, but choose one, please.” “Actually, I'm not all that hungry tonight. Can't I just have some milk and cookies, please?” Nick asked pleadingly. Before Joanne could answer him though, her cell phone rang. She was surprised to see that the caller was Simon, one of the senior students she was mentoring. He was a polite nineteen-year-old of whom Joanne was quite fond. “Simon, what a nice surprise to hear from you,” Joanne said, simultaneously nodding at Nick to let him know he could have his milk and cookies. “I'm really sorry to bother you this late, Miss Harper, but I wanted to ask you for something,” Simon apologized. “Nonsense. It hasn't even gone eight yet. What can I do for you?” Joanne asked. She intuited that Simon was embarrassed about whatever it was he needed, so she waited patiently for him to formulate his request. Clearing his throat a few times, Simon finally said, “I'm in a bit of a fix tonight, Miss. I feel truly bad to turn to you for help, but I didn't know who else to ask.” Joanne remembered that Simon lived on his own in a rented room in a house shared by other students. She was also keenly aware of his financial difficulties, thus she expected him to ask her for some money or a loan. What he asked for brought her nearly to tears. “Miss, do you have some food for me, please? I'm really hungry tonight. The only thing I've had all day was a bowl of cereal and a cup of tea this morning. If you don't have anything, it's fine. I'm very sorry to bother you, Miss.” Unbidden, an image of her stocked fridge and the dinner options she and Nick were deciding on swam into her consciousness. A well of deep shame opened up in the kind woman's heart; her motherly instinct to nurture set her soul ablaze with contrition for having taken for granted that others had three meals a day as she did. “Say no more, Simon. Please, come over right now. I have more than enough food. Have supper with me and my son and I'll pack some leftovers for you to take home as well,” she immediately said. There was a long silence on the other end of the line, making Joanne wonder if Simon had ended the call. “Simon, are you still there?” she asked just as she heard soft sobs coming over the line. Her heart broke anew; she realized that Simon was weeping. “Miss, you have no idea how much this means to me. I can't thank you enough, Mom,” Simon said, not realizing he had referred to Joanne as ‘Mom'. Simon's slip of the tongue stunned Joanne. Heroically, she collected her scattered thoughts, stilling her heaving heart. “I should be the one thanking you, Simon,” she said, her soul drenched in pure gratitude. Image: Marcos Paulo Prado (www.unsplash.com)
As usual with days preciding the coming of the rain, the weather was cold and for lack of a better word, damp. I've always been a fan of the raining season, but this time, I wasn't. Not only because it seemed to interfere whenever I had something important to do; typical, but because it brought with it symptoms of my mortal enemy - malaria. I consider myself a healthy and strong girl and on a normal day, would be happy to brag to anyone of my prowess and ability to remain so all year round. Except when visited by this dreaded sickness which has proven to be the only one to bring me to my knees and seek my mothers breast at my middle 20's. It starts with an inability to get out of bed and general body weakness but like I said, I'm strong! So I force myself out of bed. Within the day or the next morning, I'm hit with an intense neck pain , sometimes, the painful clogging of my throat which advances to a raging cough and catarrh then finishes off with a loss of appetite. The same way malaria comes knocking at my health, is the same way it leaves. Closing the door with an even more furious cough and catarrh. Usually, everyone is sympathetic during this period and even quicker to offer home remedies but this time was different and I learnt the hard way. You see, during that period, an even more dreaded disease; corona virus was on the rampage and while many Nigerians where adamant it doesn't exist and was a ruse created by the 'powers that be,' many of them where as scared as chicks without their mother hen. I initially was among the former but I wasn't scared, remember, I am strong! And even better, my father who we fondly call baba lawo because of his tinkering with natural herbs was out to the rescue. Right from the moment we got whisp of the pandemic, he made a concoction of ginger, lemon, garlic and honey long before the rumor of its preventive capabilities. We were also armed with our nose guards and the home made hand sanitizer my father was kind to make. I got to the office where I was an intern and while educating different skeptics on the danger and symptoms of the virus, malaria which had just begun closing its door decided to raise it ugly head and I began coughing profusely. Mind you, many had heard coughing was a symptom and forgetting my condition, I had been too eager to share this. My embarrassment knew no bound when some of the ladies subtly moved away from me and the manager asked me in not too many words " to go home as many of them still had kids and weren't ready to die yet." My mouth dropped, I was offended. I couldn't believe these people thought the virus capable of imprisoning a gallant lass like me, how naive I was. I stood my ground and refused to return home. Not only because I was embarrassed and everyone was waiting for my response but also because I knew I was just recovering from malaria and wasn't a danger. If you know anything about cough, you'd know it could be quite vindictive and annoying. Many days later, when I thought to be done with anything related to those symptoms, I attended a church program. A few days shy to the lockdown in Abuja, Nigeria and sat beside a handsome young man. Eager to learn, the hall quieted down and everyone was paying rapt attention. Then started this low, persistent tingle in my throat. I tried to push it down, I really did. Clenching my teeth and even holding my breathe but nothing helped and before I realized, I was coughing up a storm. My throat aching and chest heaving. I felt like transforming into an ant and crawling away. I coughed through out the meeting and though I wanted to step out, I sat in the middle of my row and was too embarrassed to stand, settling for melting into my seat. Not only because I was obviously disturbing the meeting, but because the young handsome man was so scared, he might have soiled his pants. He couldn't inch way from me faster and if he had the ability, would have disappeared. Not that I blame him, life is precious. We silently had to deal with seating awkwardly beside each other till the meeting ended and he jumped up faster than a kangaroo without so much as a "bless you." That day, I learnt a big lesson. Something that we've all heard but never paid attention to. Discrimination kills faster than any disease. I knew I wasn't hosting the virus but I never felt so uncomfortable and unclean like that evening in the church. Of course, there is an inherent need to protect ourselves and our families from this pandemic but we need to also remember to be kind even to those who may have lost the battle. Love and kindness are truly the greatest cure to everything on earth.
I believe that performing acts of kindness will improve our overall health and happiness. Currently, our overall health and happiness is in jeopardy. Technology and the way we communicate with others is making us lonely and putting stress on our hearts. In an issue of Time Magazine, an article explains that technology that involves some form of written communication has made it more convenient to avoid the strenuous work it takes to form precious "substantive" relationships in the flesh and blood ("Debate"). When we are putting less work into a relationship, the result is cheap. Technology has also made it more convenient to cyberbully, since the screen is in between the victim and the cyberbully. Cyberbullying often leads to lower self- esteem, depressive thoughts, and anxiety. This makes victims feels isolated and targeted ("Cyberbullying"). When a victim feels isolated, this leads to loneliness. Loneliness is associated with a twenty nine percent increase in risk of heart disease and a thirty two percent increase in stroke ("Loneliness"). When I spend time texting or scrolling through social media and I come across something funny, I don't laugh out loud the way I would if someone were to make me laugh in person. This has always bothered me, as if technology allows me to ignore my emotions and natural instincts. When someone says something hurtful to me over social media, I look at it over and over. It is so much easier to say whatever I want and be whoever I want when it's over social media or text. These sensations often make me feel lonely, disconnected from my own feelings, and others. I even feel an empty pain in my chest. Once I had set my phone down, I walked down to my room to see my little sister sitting on her bed in our room. She asks about my day and shows genuine interest. I look over at my neatly made bed, which I didn't have time to make this morning. On my made bed, there is a sweet note placed next to the pillows. The note is from my mom. She made my bed and wrote a "thinking of you" note. A smile comes across my face as I read the note and crawl into my bed. I began to do a body scan, and I noticed the pain in my chest went away and my whole body felt light, fluffy, warm, and regulated. These small acts of kindness helped relieve and fulfill me, as they have time and time again. The next morning when I woke up, I began writing a few generic, kind notes to give to random people at school. After reflecting on these mini personal experiences and researching what I was feeling, I believe that kindness is the first step to fulfilling the hole in our hearts. You can perform acts of kindness in so many ways. Make it a goal to share something or say something kind at least once a day. When the going gets tough, and you don't feel like doing anything for these inconsiderate people, ask yourself why you don't feel like doing anything, why are they inconsiderate, how will this affect your health, and how will this affect other's health. This will remind you why it's important to perform acts of kindness. If you are looking for ways to be kind, there are plenty of acts of kindness listed on the Random Acts of Kindness website. Some acts of kindness I have performed myself include baking cookies for others, big giant bear hugs with consent, babysit without accepting money in return, reminding others you love them and why randomly, nominate teacher for the Buffet Award, give positive observations, offer to shovel a neighbor's driveway, stand up for someone, share advice when it is desired, smile at strangers, write a thoughtful note to a teacher or friend, and volunteer at the Food Bank. Although some may argue that being kind to others is not important, and that taking care of yourself is more important, I disagree. When you care for others, you will begin to appreciate yourself even more than you did originally! People that only take care of themselves are less happy. Being kind to others will make taking care of themselves easier, simply because they are happier. A 2010 Harvard Business School survey studied happiness in one hundred thirty-six countries and found that people who contribute to charitable donations or serve others are happiest. When we see a kind act being done and we are around kindness regularly, a love hormone called oxytocin is produced. Oxytocin works to lower blood pressure and maintain a healthier heart. This hormone also increases our self-esteem, optimism, and makes us less anxious in a social situation ("The"). Kindness positively reversed these negative health and happiness facts. Since we cannot change loneliness overnight, kindness has proved to be a positive way to start fixing this problem. Compassion is a muscle. Just like in weight training, you build your compassion muscle by reaching out to other's regularly ("The"). If everyone took the time to observe and be kind, I believe it'd have a big impacts on our health and view of others.
You never know just who or what You'll cross with throughout most days. Yet there always seems to be moments in time that leave us lost for words or full of thoughts. Though I don't fully known where my encounter may lie, I know for certain that it carries a heavy truth. And with any truth to be told, it can be applied within life and it's delights. All in mind towards a genuine honesty of life that may hopefully follow, not too far behind. The other day I was at the gym and I was at the pool so my arm was showing. Someone had noticed and asked, “oh man, what happened there?” And pointed at it. Now before that, no one had been so direct towards me about it. Usually they'd notice it and my guess, get uncomfortable or awkward and try not to notice or cause attention to it. I know what it is, but I also know what it can be seen as, perceived from the outside looking in. I know what it must do to others. But here was someone who asked, not to be devious, but out of genuine concern or harmless curiosity, not instinctively thinking that I'd possibly do it to myself, thinking it had to have been something like an attack or accident. I just appreciated that lack of assumption, she didn't jump to unfair judgement, she gave me that benefit of the doubt, and with that, I was grateful and glad to answer her question. “What happened there?” And with some thought, I told her. “I was tryin- I was looking for some answers. I didn't find them. I'm still figuring them out though. Closer everyday.” And it was then, it was as if all the obvious just hit her square in the face, she kinda tried to close her mouth, not to be so obvious with her own reaction, but it was far too late for either of us to be subtle. She wasn't put off though, she didn't suddenly shame me or become disgusted; she was just hit with a heavier unexpected answer. But then I saw a sadness, not pity, but a sadness for my wellbeing, a concern. It was warmth, no doubt in my mind, cause I felt it churning in her eyes. Like intertwined gears that wind the clock. After some ticks and tocks, she absorbed the time needed to process the situation for what it was, she spoke in a tone that she had shifted from the soul. She reached out to me and connected, “Well I'm really glad you didn't find it -there-. There's reason for why we don't always get what we want, there's moments in time when what we want most, is actually what will cause our demise. So life throws us a bone, and denies that hidden demise. Saving us, while we cry.” The hair on my arms started to raise, it's like she peaked in, and saw it for what it for was it was, and put it into words for me. I wanted to tear my wall, to show her that she had got through to me, but all I could muster was a big teethe smile, I never do so cause my teeth are a mess, but my joy wouldn't stand for anything less as it's expression. Then I looked to her with an uttermost heartfelt gleam smeared across my once broken face, and thanked her for being a wonderful human being. It was a powerful moment, and it was all within 3 or 4 minutes of small talk. She went on to finish her workout and I stayed there listening to the echo acoustics of the indoor pool. Processing the situation for myself. For what it was..
Jump, Now!!! Those words rang in my head, as I took a drastic decision that changed my life for the better. 28th February, 2014, remains imprinted on my mind to this very day. I was a grade ten student of Bright Stars Model Secondary School. I had a couple of good friends, read my books, and made sure to be the perfect kind of son my parents wanted, I wanted. It was about 4pm on the said date, we had just finished our last class for the day, as the exhausted students scurried out of the school premises—the euphoria evident in them as they longed for home. I packed up my bags, said goodbye to my friends and boarded a tricycle home. I sat in-between a plump woman and a mid-sized dude. We had just passed a green traffic light, when an SUV in front of us collided with a minibus, as the bus tumbled to the side, crashing down on the pavement. Our driver tried to manoeuvre his way, in an attempt to avoid bashing the SUV. Just as he narrowly missed the SUV and drove onto the sidewalk, I saw this big tree, looming in front of us. Surrounded by a carpet of merciless granite stones, the thick, dense tree, situated itself a few inches from our tricycle. My thought at that fleeting moment in time, was that our vehicle was going to impinge on the tree and we would all be dead. The dude beside me jumped out, and without thinking, I followed suit, jumping out of a moving vehicle. That was a life-threatening decision I made in seconds. I closed my eyes and leapt out, face first onto the granite ground. Miraculously, I landed on my knapsack, as it scraped through the granite with fierce force. I was left with only a shallow wound but nothing serious. The event of that day marked a turnaround in my life. Two weeks after the accident—on my way back from school—I decided to head down to the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. I went to the Accident/Emergency unit, my heart sank. I saw a whole lot of helpless, hopeless people, most of them lacking limbs. The looks on their weary faces sent chills running down my spine. I had always considered myself a staunch believer in how blessed I was, but that day showed me I had a whole lot more to be grateful to God for. I met this particular girl named Grace. She has lovely brown eyes and a cute smile, about 5'2 in height. She recently turned nine. When I got to know her well, I discovered that she suffered from a fatal car accident, one which wiped out her immediate nuclear family, leaving her as the only survivor. Her kneecap got smashed in, rendering her unable to walk. Her maternal aunt takes care of her at the hospital. I made it a point of duty since then, to always visit the hospital twice a month and make anonymous donations from my little savings, mostly to Grace's aunt for her welfare. A friend once said to me, “you start living—not just being alive—when you impact positively, on the lives of others.” It's starting to make a whole lot more sense to me now. I feel in a way, the accident made me a better version of myself, one that now views the privilege of life, as an avenue to help those on the verge of losing theirs. Surviving a ghastly car accident has taught me a few things in life, one being that life is fleeting, and can be cruelly snatched away at any instant of time. I believe in helping the needy. Each time I walk past a ward and see a kid I anonymously donated funds to, playing and jumping around happily, it gives me some sense of self-accomplishment (knowing I've been able to impact one more life). In my subconscious, the sayings of John Bunyan come alive, “you have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
There is a secret to everything, Everyone's secret. Every mammal has its own milk, Even our galaxy has got its milky way, Milk & honey its messengers have rarely seen, Whenever we had it, it was a gift from the Everpresent unseen. We thought we're able enough to produce our own, we usually double it with water & sugar to keep our pockets as lubrified as our eyes. When He denied us the fictitious milk of golden calves, we started harvesting the milk of stray dogs, easter bunnies, our eyes milky with the cataract of money. If you breastfeed your child up to four or five it ain't madness to be locked up in towers, sarcastically publicized, it's throwing his future in the range of his Father's hands. Sometimes a mother's unable to point out a temporary father and even if she did, he doesn't bother, yet the real Father has never denied tears of a child or of his mother. Too often at the end of a life lived in our own sweat and the sweat of others, we count our bars of gold as we were told by the political statistician who kept our heart frozen on doses of ultimate sensation and morphine, too often we discover our bars are milky and their date to be consumed has long expired, that's when we generously melt them and give them to others. If you want your Eternity strong, melt your bars young, before your dates run out give them to Him, give them to the insignificant others... your treasure safely stored beyond the Milky Way.
I look myself in the mirror, I can discern the decay of my face. There is no smile anymore. The stasis of my lips offers satisfactorily lust in my thoughts that torment my mind with Medieval methods. I touch my idol in the mirror and I hurt. I try to close his eyes, but I cannot. They stay open and still and they look morbidly. Chainsaws echo from the overlooked cemetery, tear into pieces mercilessly the marble crosses. What have I done to myself so he looks at me like this? Why my sharpened teeth do not appear on the glass surface with sole purpose to bite her? Sorrow hallowing my forehead with sorrow. Indestructible thorns jab more deeper in the flesh of my skull. Bloody tears sparkling in my hands' palms. If I scream I will die. If I die I will have to kill. If I kill I am obliged to leave. If I leave, I will return. God, why, the sorrows of people transmute into ebony coffins that are buried within my heart? If only I could soothe my consciousness for seven days… I feel something to choke me. My throat is asphyxiating while my glass idol laughs horrendously. I can't stand the howling. No, yell at me no more. Reigns powerful silence, and then spasms commence recalling me in my starting position, before abyssal darkness arrogates my senses. Maybe fate leads me in a deathly destiny, which in case it happens, will become the salvation which is the highest virtue for a tormented soul like mine. No, I don't murmur. The existing circumstances of life have tired me insurmountably, because as I try to open a way out to the future, it ricochets me to the past. Death is the physical continuation of life, and I will be delighted if it happens to the days of my youth, for the simplest reason, that I cannot avoid him. To speak the truth, I don't want to avoid him. I want desperately to remain alive and to feel whatever joy I can, but they don't let me. In which attempt I give or trying to be present, they find ways to chain me and isolate me. The only thing that will never succeed in accomplishing is to handcuff my mind. A free spirit clearly suffering, but in no way it can be imprisoned. A free spirit prefers death so not to lose innocence, insight, respect and prestige. I have thought many times while I stroll in the city, how life would continue if I committed suicide… For sure there will be consequences and repercussions to people who they love me , however they would continue to exist without me, and with the flow of time the rift of pain would heal in desired spots. The verb “die” does not fit here, so, reasonably I use the verb “suicide”. Suicide is not an act of cowardice as some falsely believe. Because nobody knows how much pain a single human has within his soul. Nobody knows the spiritual boundaries and the stamina in a daily routine that open wounds that cannot be healed. How many people we see daily that smile whilst inside them are literally devastated… How many people we see daily that seek a kind word, a velvet touch, an understanding breath, and the only thing that get is disdain… How many people daily we place of the beam of desperation without remorse…Here is a key word which provokes pathogenic causes with fatal results. Suicide as a meaning and as an act certainly is the ultimate hybris against God, though requires determination and courage to turn yourself against yourself and violently remove the coveted life in that way. How many of you have done this macabre thought at least once… In this theater of paradox we daily live, the incarnation of life to life seems like an unreachable dream. Loneliness, disappointment, sorrow, wrong choices, guilt, remorse, unemployment, compulsion, hatred, unfairy tax policies, lies, eradication, violation of human rights, greed, selfishness, stab democracy that all people worship. The rule of law which could be, turns into a cradle of powerful coldness where everything collapse upon the enormous steel walls of human separation. Undead people wander everywhere aimlessly. They stamp upon dead bodies, seeking comprehensible sunrays of justice and transparent water to wash away their sins. How would it seem to the violators of this planet, who have elevated the obedient lobotomy to a profitable enterprise, a universal peace, which it would dismiss forever the wars for interest and people would live happily? A universal peace will destroy forever the human funnel grinders of annihilation. Only by thinking of it, my heart shivers from hope and expectation. A universal peace would give meaning in words and prestige in actions of future generations in a planet which agonizes… The only thing that is needed is an incision of kindness into the hearts of men… An incision that will bring back long-forgotten feelings, good deeds, smiles, hope… Hope for a palatable future life. We need love to live, not pain. Tears drop from my eyes as my words breath on the paper. What I wish for, what I want is, my words breathe inside your psychic dreams…
I recently lost my car (which I used to live in). I am currently living in low-income housing. I haven't worked in five months. I have no money for transportation (bus, or getting a ride from someone). I have had to cancel several job interviews because of transportation issues. I am currently taking several medications, one of which is critical for me, I haven't had them in over a month because I can't get transportation to the pharmacy and I don't have a dollar for the co-pay. I currently volunteer at a non-profit (it's within walking distance from my building). I won a funny (easter) bunny picture contest from radio station 104.7 (WAYZ). The prize was a $50 AC&T gift card. AC&T is a gas station/convenience store. I have no way to get to Greencastle, PA to pick up the card. I asked them to mail the card to me, but they said they couldn't mail it. So I told them to give the card to someone else. I am hoping my story will inspire someone perform a selfless act of kindness or to volunteer. No matter had bad your situation is, someone is always worse off than you.
It is 4.00pm in dapchi, a small town in the northeastern part of Nigeria, the blaring heat of the sun would not make anyone suspect that the day is far spent, neither would the rigorous and delightful sporting activities performed by these young girls make them aware of the looming danger even if they could gaze into the future. Mother earth in her benevolence would try to avert the looming calamity and had employed her siblings the elements to cause a shower and a hazy sky, but this would not dissuade these deadly predators from continuing their heinous task. At about 5:30 pm, all hell broke loose, ‘boom, boom, boom' the sound of gunshots could be heard all over the place. By the wake of dawn the dust has settled down, but the havoc wrecked will remain one to be unforgotten for many decades to come: about one hundred and ten (110) schoolgirls aged 11–19 years old have been kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorist group from the Government Girls Science and Technical College Dapchi on February 19, 2018. Approximately four years ago about 276 schoolgirls were abducted from Chibok a small town in northern Nigeria with many of them still missing today. The previous year, dozens of student were killed at a secondary school in Yobe State, Nigeria. Who is responsible for all these mayhem? And what is the possible reason for targeting the young ones? Abubakar Shekau, the ringleader and spearheader of this insurgent group responsible for all these disasters, would never have turned out to be a dispenser of sorrow if this was not done: if everyone had not shot the bowels of mercy if everyone had not turned deaf ears to the somber suffering of the lad. Entering into orphanhood from an early stage in life, Shekau took to the street to join the countless number of “Alimajari” (street beggars) to get his daily bread. Rising early in the morning and not resting till sunset— Shekau's only duty was to roam the street begging for alms. It is 7:30 in the morning; Shekau could be seen standing dutifully at the corner of the street, with a bowl in outstretched arm waiting for blessings from passers-by. Vroom, vroom; the cars kept on passing, spilling on dust to his face— every one hastening to drop their children in school, they dare not look on the poor kid, let alone offer him something because he is some contagious disease that no one should behold. No one bothered of where he slept when last he took his bath or what he ate; not even his torn and tattered clothes or his young age would arouse their side of pity— he was a god-forsaken scumbag. By the afternoon time, he would have traversed the city to the other part, where the less classy ones stay, hoping to get the remnant of the kids lunch basket, but it would never happen, every parent have warned their children not to talk or give those ugly shit begging for alms anything; they better throw away their remnant than move closer to them. With time, things began to change; the young lad always gazing at the school kids hoping for help is no longer doing such, the helpless look on his face has now being replaced by disdain and anger: no doubt, the seed of hatred had already been sown and would soon reveal itself in the coming years. Days turn to month, and months to years; so did the small kid advance into his youth. Probably if the bowels of mercy were still opened then, the soul of the young boy could have been redeemed— unfortunately, it was not so, the young boy soon graduated from alms begging into stealing and other anti-social vices and soon became a hardened criminal. Along the line came the war profiteers, angels of darkness transforming into angels of light, people who needed cheap labor to perpetuate their evil, and of course the young man matched their profile well and was enlisted into the evil workforce. A very popular adage says “an idle hand is the devil workshop”, so also is an empty mind void of knowledge. Abubakar Sheakau lacking knowledge and education easily gave in to all manner of corrupted knowledge and belief and joined the Boko-haram terrorist group. Advancing quickly through the rank, he became the leader of the dangerous sect in 2009. Since then, there has been a drastic change in the operation of the group; over 3 million lives have been affected, thousands of children turned into orphans and many homes left desolate. The beast in him has been unleashed and the fire of evil has gotten out of hand. This is, therefore, a clarion call to us all: brighten the corner where you are, show a little bit of love and kindness, and help an erring soul. Shut the bowels of mercy and expect the rains of terror.
“In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. “Allah creates the creation in the beginning, and then brings it forth anew: and, in the end, to Him you all will re- turn” Quran 30:11. A question was posed to me “What is square one and can you ever return to it?” The first thing that came to mind was the dichotomy I am currently living. A dichotomy of east and west, Christian vs Muslim I must start at the very beginning. My life began in a dichotomy, conceived as the child of Uyghur parents. The Uyghur are a tribe and racial group split by the borders of China and Kyrgyzstan. We are a persecuted racial minority in China and a racial minority in Kyrgyzstan. The Uyghur are neither Chinese nor Caucasian but a unique racial and tribal group, comparable to the Native American Indians. Sadly fewer and fewer speak my native language, even I speak mainly Russian and was educated in Russian as Kyrgyzstan was part of the former Soviet Union. My people are torn between countries and languages. My story begins in 1999 in the capital of Kyrgyzstan Bishkek where I spent just 3-4 years and then went to a small town Karakol with my mom and my younger sister. My dad doesn't live with us. Now I want talk about a very important event that had happened to me. On March 28th 2016 a lot of things have changed. I won a scholarship for a Future Leaders Exchange program. It is a scholarship based exchange program that helps high school students from Middle Eastern countries study in an American High School and exchange their cultural experiences with the American people. Nobody can imagine how happy I was to be a finalist of this exchange program. I have been dreaming of seeing America since I was in the 6th grade. There are four thousand applicants in my city alone and only ninety students from all of Kyrgyzstan get selected. I had applied three times and this was my last chance. They do not tell you why you do not get accepted. I was president of my class and academically first in my class but didn't make it the first two times. My uncle filled out my paperwork the third time because the first two times when I wasn't selected my father told me it was because no one wanted me and they never would and I should stop applying. I studied incredibly hard and tried again because I couldn't give up on my dream. This time, my very last chance, I made it. What has impressed me the most, is how much charity work the church does. I volunteer in the food pantry, serving dinners and with the nurseries. I was really impressed by how there are so many people that want to be useful to their community. At home I volunteer with Kyrgyzstani Orphans. I have written grants to create curriculum to tutor them in English. Having lived in the US my desire to be useful to my community has grown. It is really important to understand that every help is appreciated. I remember one story that my teacher told me. He told us that one time there was a fire in the city and people were trying to get water in order to put out a fire, so one man saw that a small ant was carrying some water and he asked him if he thought that this much water can put out the fire and then ant replied:” The amount is not very important, your intentions are more important” In conclusion I want to say that we people should be kind to each other. We should always be willing to help each other. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness”- Galatians 5:22 Another message of my essay is that all people are equal. It does not matter if you are Christian or Muslim, black or white, Asian or Hispanic. I uploaded the picture where there are girls from different countries and continents who have different religions and ethnicity but that is not a problem for them, because there is kindness in their heart.