It is the kindness of a stranger that has prompted me to blog again.
It was Thursday, my day off school and I had decided to check out the Community Library about 10 mins away by bus. Because I hadn’t been feeling well, I was coughing rather badly as I waited for the bus.
I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around. It was an elderly Greek man who spoke in a heavily-accented English.
“You try this sweet. They are the best for bad throat. They come from Yugoslavia.”
He hands me two black liquorice sweets wrapped in faded candy wrapper. I could barely make out the picture of a stereotypical black man on the wrapper, with the word “Negro” printed all over the paper. I couldn’t not accept, so I unwrapped one immediately and put it in my mouth.
It was instant relief.
“I told you. They are the best! I always take this everywhere I go. If you take this bus the other direction, you can go to Northland Shopping Centre and they sell this.”
I started chatting with him, since I knew the bus always ran late and he seemed like a nice guy.
And he told me his story – came from Greece to Melbourne 32 years ago, retired now and married to a Greek lady whom he met in Australia, has two daughters older than me.
“You got a boyfriend?” he asked, when we got seated in the bus.
“Well, I was seeing an Australian.”
“No, NO! That is not good! You must choose someone from your own country. Someone who knows your language, your background, your culture. But it is your choice, I cannot judge. I cannot tell you what to do or who to go out with, because it is your life. If you want, I help you find.”
“Do you know any Singaporeans?”
“No, but I was only joking!”
The bus soon turned into High Street, taking us into the Preston Shopping Centre.
He turned to me again as we were alighting the bus. “If you have time, I take you to one of these Vietnamese bread places and you tell me which one you like, I help you find a boyfriend.”
I laughed and told him I’d be alright.
“I’m sorry to make such a bad joke, I shouldn’t say that.”
If only he knew how he had brightened up my day, simply by caring enough for a stranger.