Smile Gently

The morning was ordinary, bright beams of sunshine burst across the sky and the heat was strong and confident. In the early morning hours I walked through my village greeting the passersby and eager children. With my plastic barrels strapped on my bicycle, my destination was the water pump. I followed the winding footpath inhaling and imbibing the wonders of the world that are still so mysterious to me.

I waited my turn in using the water pump and sat on the edge of the brick wall, listening to the women at the pump talking about their lives in a tongue that is still so foreign to my ears. Not long after I sat down, a small girl started to cry. She was clothed in a dirty dress that was sprinkled with holes and rips. Her wails washed away the red dust that was stuck to her cheeks. Her cries were desperate and I could nearly feel the hurt that palpitated from each breath she exhaled.

Every second that passed by seemed to fill my heart with a weight. The little girl’s cries were not consoled. Her nose was not wiped with tenderness. She was not even glanced at. With timidity I stood and nervously bit my lip. I took a tentative step towards her. I offered her my hand and softly told her “bwerani” or “please come” and led her sniffling back to the place where I was perched enjoying my blessed morning. For a moment the village melted away, the women’s loud talking was quieted, and the sun was not so very hot anymore. It was just me and her. I smiled gently and said, “khalani apa” or “sit here” and patted my lap. She wiped her tears from her eyes with the back of her hand and sat on my legs that were hidden under a village apron.

Her tears stopped.

Her hiccuping subsided.

She was comforted finally from whatever darkness that haunted her.

There are times when I had felt like a dirty child crying at the water pump with no one there to reach out to me. She and I are the same even though we are worlds apart in our lives. There will be moments of breaking down, moments of pain, and moments hardly inculpable. But faith, that beautiful beacon that lights so many darknesses and eradicates the ghouls that haunt them, is found in everything and everyone.

Even in yourself.

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