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My annual trips to Pakistan can be summarized with the use of a few basic words, including eating, sleeping, shopping, and complaining. If the car didn’t have a fully-operating AC system, I’d curse the people and their lack of technological skills. If my foot accidentally stepped into a pile of garbage, I’d curse the homeless for not being able to keep their area clean. No matter what the situation, I’d always find a way to bring out the negativity in it.
It was a scorching, hot summer day in the city of Karachi, and aside from finding the nearest vendor selling bottled water imported from America, I had very little on my mind. Waiting for my mother in the car had become a very occurent activity, considering the never-ending purchasing of several different varieties of fabrics and trinkets from the local bazaars. I kept the window rolled down, and my eyes wandered around the dirty streets, from the rikshaw cars to the pastry stands. I inhaled the rich aroma of hot jalebi, realizing that the last things I ate were the luscious, yet slightly small mangoes my aunt grew in her backyard.
It wasn’t until a few minutes later that I noticed a homeless, and very old-looking man, standing significantly close to my car. His skin looked quite weather-beaten, and I could see all the dirt that had accumulated over the past few weeks, on his bare feet. I still remember the position he was in- head bent down, as if he had no strength left to face the world, and hands held out, waiting for a complete stranger to help him out. I dug around my purse, and was surprisingly able to find a 50-rupee note. I knew this money didn’t mean much to me, and that I couldn’t even buy a decent pair of earrings with it, but I reminded myself that any amount of money would be cherished by someone as unfortunate as that man.
I stuck my hand out the window, and watched with amazement as the old man struggled with all the strength left in him to take the offered gift. At that moment, it wasn’t the good deed I just performed that was dawning upon me, but rather the large, and quite visible smile that I saw gradually form on the wrinkled face of that man. A smile I often received from my closest friends didn’t even seem comparable to the one I had just received from a person I didn’t even know, and couldn’t even in a million years, relate to. My feeling was beyond that of happiness; it was the feeling of sheer satisfaction, in the simplest form and from the perfect stranger. This stranger had flashed me a smile so genuine that it filled me with warmth despite the blaring AC on high that I once cared so much for…
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