5 short stories of loving a stranger – and learning something in return
This Valentine’s Day, we’ve put together a handful of short stories on love in unexpected places. From a chance encounter at the grocery store, to stumbling upon a a rowdy bus passenger, these unusual tales help us see that there are opportunities for kindness all around us.
1. IN SEARCH OF MY HONEY (Joanne Kwok)
While I was walking around with my parents in a shopping bazaar and trying out samples in one stall, my mum noticed that the sales lady – who was probably close to the age of a university student – had lost her voice. She was barely whispering to us as she told us about the product she was selling.
I felt bad for her and thought it would be nice to buy her a honey lemon drink. But they didn’t sell those anywhere nearby, so I gave up on the idea. But just as we continued walking around the atrium, I noticed a stall selling honey. I thought it’d be nice to give her one of the free sample cups and approached the stall, only to find out that their free samples only came in tiny spoons.
A sweet act of love, no matter how small, makes people feel seen and loved.
To be honest, I started calculating how many spoons I would need to take to put one cup of honey together for the lady. I was even thinking about how to walk up and down so it wasn’t too obvious. As I was thinking, I saw that the stall also sold their honey in small vials, so I could buy a set (the minimum quantity) and give one vial to her.
When I walked back to her stall and gave her the vial of honey, she was very shocked and appreciative. She even asked to take a photo with me and add me on Instagram.
This incident taught me how important it is to listen out for the needs of people. This sales lady clearly had a need that wasn’t impossible to be met – I couldn’t just say “take care” and walk away.
A random act of kindness, no matter how small, can make people feel seen and loved.
2. LOVE WILL GUIDE YOU HOME (Nicole Chan)
As I was on the usual bus home, I recognised an uncle who is a blind busker. He was asking the bus driver to let him know when it was his stop, but that conversation became heated and they started shouting at each other. Things got chaotic and the other passengers had to get involved.
My first reaction was to get out of the bus as fast as possible, but I felt a really strong prompting to stay and help the blind uncle. So even though the bus reached my stop, I stayed on and waited for the blind uncle to get off at his stop – which thankfully was only two stops after mine.
I followed him off the bus and approached him to ask if he needed help to be led to his destination. Surprisingly, he accepted the help very quickly and explained to me that he had wanted to get his violin restrung. Even though I told him I didn’t know where the shop was, he still grabbed my arm and said it was no problem.
He would tell me where to go – I just needed to guide him.
Honestly, I was freaking out a bit when he grabbed my arm but I continued to lead him and we eventually reached the shop. I offered to wait for him and help guide him back, but he told me it was alright. Before leaving, I offered to pray for him instead. He happily agreed and told me that he was a Christian too. Then after praying, we parted ways.
I may have been the one leading a blind man, but I realised I was also blinded by my own fears and uncertainty. Looking back, I now see that you don’t need to understand everything about a person or situation to help. When a desire to help someone grabs you by the arm, no matter how scary it may seem, just go for it.
3. SWEPT OFF HER FEET (Jovial Ng)
A few friends and I went out for lunch one day and saw a frail old lady struggling to walk. She was using a trolley to walk, and I wondered if she had any family members around to help her.
I immediately approached her along with my friends and asked her if she needed any help, but I didn’t expect her to ask us to carry her! I thought we could help support her or carry her trolley, but to our surprise, she requested to be carried. The aunty explained that her knees were aching, and there wasn’t any way to contact her neighbours or anyone else she’s related to.
My friends and I looked at each other, as we were not really sure if it was okay to carry her. I was mostly worried that she might be too brittle or have previous injuries, so carrying her might be risky. We decided to lift her with one friend supporting her back and two other friends supporting her from both sides of her legs.
She asked us to take her to the taxi stand, so we carried her all the way and even carried her into the taxi itself. When we realised that she would find it difficult to alight the cab by herself, we offered to follow her on the cab and even paid for her ride home.
But when we arrived at the destination and got out of the cab with the aunty in our arms once again, she simply told us to drop her off at the outdoor badminton court. We weren’t comfortable leaving her alone and insisted on carrying her all the way to her house, but she refused and said that she wanted to rest at the badminton court, assuring us that she would go home on her own afterwards.
It was a bittersweet ending as I couldn’t help but worry about her even after we parted ways. However, I learnt that love can be shown even if it’s just for a moment. While I couldn’t see it through to the end, that small moment of love was enough for me.
4. A PUSH IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION (Danielle Lee)
I was shopping at NTUC when I bumped into an elderly aunty on a wheelchair who was also pushing her own foldable trolley cart. She was looking up at some goodies on the top shelves that she couldn’t reach, so I offered to help her reach for it.
After I helped her, I asked if there was anyone shopping with her. She replied “no”. Since I wasn’t rushing for time, I offered to push her around NTUC as well. At first, I thought I could just help her until she finished shopping, but the aunty requested for me to push her towards the cashier as well.
At the queue for the cashier, I bumped into a friend. Seeing how I knew this guy, the aunty took the opportunity to ask him for assistance as well. She asked for help to go up the taxi later, and my friend agreed.
When we reached the taxi stand, there was a long queue with a few families and other elderly people in front of us. The aunty suddenly asked if she could jump ahead to be the first in line. The people in the queue were taken aback by the request but after some hesitation, eventually agreed.
After waiting for about 10 minutes, a taxi finally arrived. Before the elderly aunty boarded the taxi, she even asked the taxi driver if he could help her up to her apartment after he sent her to the foot of her block. He was shocked by her request, but thankfully still agreed to help her.
While the aunty’s attitude caught me off guard, I still appreciated the opportunity to help her. When push comes to shove, the love we give must remain sincere even when the person we show love to doesn’t react in a way that makes us feel good.
5. FAST FOOD, SLOW JUDGEMENT (Suew Ling)
There was this uncle that just started appearing near my house’s MRT station. He would sometimes sit on the steps near a bus stop looking around, not doing anything in particular. Sometimes I would see people giving him food although he didn’t ask for it.
One day, I was on my way home from school late in the afternoon. I hadn’t eaten both lunch and breakfast, so I went to buy a burger in McDonald’s. After buying my burger, I walked down my usual path to go home. Just as I was approaching the bus stop, I saw that uncle seated there in the exact same spot since the morning. It wasn’t peak hour so there weren’t many people around.
The first thing that came to my mind was: “Oh it’s that uncle sitting there again. I wonder if he’s eaten yet.” But I just brushed the thought away and walked past him to continue my way home.
However, I kept thinking about whether he had eaten or not, and whether he was hungry. I felt that I should have given the burger to him as he could be starving. I didn’t make it very far before turning back to him and giving him my burger. I just smiled and handed the burger to him, and he accepted it with both hands, smiling, nodding and saying thank you a few times.
Strangely, after that encounter with him, I never saw him there anymore. I’m glad I didn’t continue walking home that day. You’ll never know when might be your last chance to bless someone.
Inspired by any of these stories? Here’s your chance to show love to our medical professionals this Valentine’s Day. Read our story below to find out how.
THINK + TALK
- How are you spending Valentine’s Day this year?
- What does love truly mean?
- This week, think of someone you can show kindness to in a practical way.