My Ordinary Heroes

Some of you are aware from my previous post about the fact that I suffer from Pure O OCD. This isn’t another post about that issue, as I’m not really a huge fan of talking about it. But I do want to write about the people in my life, who without doing anything at all, can sometimes turn a miserable day, into one that is bearable.

So if you’ve been following my posts from the beginning, you’ll not only know about the OCD, but about my inability to really find a place to fit in. The whole, too American for Egypt but too Egyptian for America thing. Making and keeping friends has never been my strong suit, and you combine that with the OCD, and you’ll understand why I don’t like staying in one place too long. Right now, I’m in Korea. I’ve been here for almost a year, and just like any year, its had it  highs and lows. But I want to introduce you to the people who, just by their presence, have made some rough days a little more bearable.

I live right by a massive church, and it is massive. Sundays are not my favorite day as the street gets really crowded. But there is a man who always waters the flowers by the church. I don’t know his name, and we don’t speak the same language. But every time he sees me, his faces lights up into a gorgeous smile. He has one of those smiles that when you see it, you can’t help but smile yourself as well. He has taken to asking me “Where are you going?” “Where did you come from?” And after ONE YEAR, I’ve finally learned to understand those two questions. But the thing is, every time I see him, I can’t help but smile. Even before he sees me. I’m so used to his smile, just seeing him now makes me smile, and sometimes after a long day, that smile feels like a stranger to your face. It reminds me of a Muslim Hadith. (The Hadith are the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH.) He said that even a smile in the face of your brother is an act of charity. It truly is.

There is a man who lives one floor below me, and he is always feeding some stray cats and kittens in the area. I don’t know his name, but he always jokes with me in Korean. Not being able to understand him, I nod along and smile, but then he invites me to watch him feed the cats, and there is something beautiful in seeing him care for these animals like that. Its a nice feeling to have, just seeing that small connection between him and these cats, and I always feel a little happier after watching his interactions with his cats.

There is a woman that I walk by on my way home. She sells fruits out of a cart. She always gives me a huge smile, and whenever I stop by to buy some fruits from her, she always gives me something extra. Whether its two apples I didn’t buy, or two extra oranges, its a small act that goes a long way.

The reason I’m sharing these stories is that you never know what a small act of kindness can offer someone else. You can give someone a smile, and that smile could make a bad day just a little bit brighter. But when they go home, that’s what they’ll remember about their bad day. That a nice person smiled at them. Sometimes seeing someone else smile can make you smile, and when that smile has been a stranger for a long time, it can be all the difference in the world, between a really miserable day, and one that’s not so bad.

I’ve been in Korea for almost one year. During that time I have a lot of happy memories and a lot of not so happy memories that I will now carry for the rest of my life. But there are people, good people, that entered my life. Whose names I don’t know, but looking back, I’m so glad that they are there. Because sometimes they are just what I need.


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