Long ago, when I was about twelve, I was at a large family gathering at my relative’s house. We were all sitting together in the living room, chatting over tea and snacks when the eldest person in the group – let me call her Fuku in this story – started telling us a “remarkable encounter” she had experienced recently.
“The other day, I was walking back home from the post office,” she began, and I immediately turned in the direction of the great storyteller. “When a little girl with her school bag came up to me and started talking to me.”
“How old was she?” I asked.
“Probably about eight,” Fuku replied. “She was a little girl full of energy. She told me about her day at school and asked me what I was doing. We walked together for a while.”
“That sounds fun!”
“Oh, yes, she was lovely!” Fuku’s eyes twinkled as she smiled. “When we crossed the road, I thanked her for her company and told her to get back home safely.”
“She said she was heading in the same direction as I was and that she’d walk with me. I said, ‘thank you, but you don’t have to.’ Guess what happened next?”
“What happened?” I leaned forward.
“Well, she insisted she’d walk with me! She goes ‘Is it bad if I walk with you?’ Of course, there was nothing wrong with that. I told her, ‘But I’m sure a young girl like you has better things to do than walking with an elderly like me?'”
“What did she say?”
“She still insisted,” Fuku laughed. “‘I want to walk with you!’ she said. ‘So, that’s what I’m doing now. Nobody can stop me!’ So we walked back all the way together until our paths parted. Yes, she was a girl with her own will!”
What a remarkable girl, I thought to myself. She was brave. Though I was older than her, I wasn’t sure if I had the guts to walk up to an elderly woman I didn’t know and declare to walk with her. The girl must have seen Fuku for who she was beyond her age. That’s probably why she approached her no differently than she would her friends at school. This girl certainly had an admirable quality I’d always remember.