What a kind stranger once taught me.
When I was 14, I was walking home one day from our local Bangladeshi grocers, carrying a big bag of onions in its luminous orange netted bag, which never had any handles. Anyone, who knows a thing or two about South Asian families living in the UK, will know that onions are one life’s necessity for us. It’s a key ingredient to our daily culinary dishes, therefore loose onions in brown paper bags or supermarket ones with a handful of small onions had never been an option for us to entertain. So here I was, a skinny 14-year-old, carrying a 5kg onion bag, like I was dragging a bull by its horn. I imagine that my plight to carry this enormous weight was becoming obvious to passers-by. A Bengali Aunty (Chachi) who I had never met or seen before, saw my struggle and stopped me. I could sense from her smile she felt sorry for me but also a little un -malice joy from my naivety in life, the naivety only a 14-year-old boy could have, trying his best to run a shopping errand for his mum.
She explained and then showed me how to grab hold of just one onion from the large pack and let it act as a handle and let the rest of them hang. This way, the weight of the whole bag of onions will fall and the onion I hold in my hand will act as a handle. I clasped onto that little onion and true to her word, the weight of the bag disappeared. I thanked my kind stranger, as I continued my journey to my home, this time – effortlessly.
For a while, every time I went out to run an errand, I hoped I would bump into her to tell her how thankful I was for her piece of wisdom that day. I never saw her again but the life skill she taught me, still lingers with me to this day – 25 years later. Every time I buy a bag of onions from the grocers, I think of that kind stranger, who taught me how to carry an onion bag. I went on to teach both my parents and siblings after my encounter with her and no doubt will teach my own kids one day, when it becomes their turn.
Moral of the story.
We all have something to teach and it can happen any time and at the strangest of moments. Sometimes it’s something as simple as giving advice to a young boy on the verge of youth, walking home with groceries. Don’t stop helping people to learn in whatever shape or form, never stop willing to learn in whatever shape or form. You never know, how small things, no matter how trivial it may seem to you, will leave a lasting impact on someone and how one moment can leave a lasting legacy in someone’s life, which they will then pass onto someone else.
We overlook small things in life, putting emphasis on the bigger things to learn, but small life skills helps build the bigger picture. It takes a village to raise a child, we cannot learn skills, life lessons from just one person/s, we learn it from around us. And although like everyone, the majority of my greater life lessons were learnt with experience and many lessons still left to be learned. I never forget to smile and think of that kind Aunty, who taught me a valuable skill that day. Who knows? With every smile, when I think of her, there might be a silent prayer being sent to her. Somewhere, she is sitting, unaware how her one small intervention that day all those years ago, has left a small but lasting footprint in my life.
Don’t ever stop learning or willing to teach – Don’t miss the chance to learn to hold your own onions in life.