I walked a long the riverside this Sunday morning hoping to feel better. Things have not been so well with me these recently days. So, I just walked and took some interesting photos. Then, I saw a girl sitting a long on the cement bench looking straight to the river. She has a thoughtful face and soft eyes. She was smiling at the river. I sat down not very far from her and did the same starring at the Mekong river which is flowing from the South to the North.
I couldn’t help but looked at her occasionally. I admitted that I wanted to ask her the reason she was smiling for.
Luckily, she turned to me and smiled. I smiled at her too. I was like “hey thank you for smiling at me”. Within the next few minute, we still smiled but then turned our eyes to the river, again. Perhaps, we were just thinking of more reasons to smile.
I took a deep breath and then she started the conversation.
“My parents had died of a car accident recently”, she said then paused. Then continued. “Someone drunk driving and hit them right on their right lane while they were on their way home from a friend’s wedding.”
I nodded painfully understanding of how terrible traffic is in Cambodia especially drink driving and the impunity. Then, she continued.
“I came here to remember them”. “They had so much to offer”.
I again nodded saying nothing but was ready to listen to a stranger’s tragic story.
“They told me to hold on hope. The hope of finishing a college”.
“You will do well”, I broke my silent for the first time. She still had the smile on her face. I asked myself again “How come this young girl can manage the grief of losing both parents and still managed smile?”
“What helps you hold to hope?”, I asked curiously.
“I have an older sister who is ready to guide me and a younger brother who is looking for a role model. I think I am his role model. They are my inspiration”.
The conversation about life often interrupted with a long pause. Before I had the courage to ask her, she started.
“I read positive quotes and practice them.”, she answered with ease. I turned away again. But this time I felt embarrassed to her. I thought I was having bad days these days but this girl was showing me reasons to be grateful for.
“Well, i wish you all the best of luck”, I wished her while she was still smiling but this time with some tear sparkled in her eyes.
“Can I have a hug?”, she begged me. I without reluctant burst into a little happy ending laugh. I have wanted hug so badly, perhaps more than her. And I though I was lucky.
Then the two strangers hugged. The hug was so warm that potentially could melt a big cube of ice within a minute.
Before I left, I gave her some of my appreciation.
“You are a great girl I have ever met”, “At this age you have a mature and enlighten thought that some people in their mid 40s do not have. “Keep on and then you will achieve your goal. I’m sure your parents’ soul will looking after you”.
We waved goodbye. We didn’t exchange contact but in my mind was like “Oh my, she will do well. She will be a future leader. It is just a matter of time.
While walking home random thought kept pouring to my complicated brain. Well, the girl maybe so brave to smile all the way long but amid her strong attitude she also needed some encouragement to cling for. She needs somebody to listen to her story, gave her a hug, and some encouragement. I did that and that made my day! And about my bad days, why should I bother?