How I failed to listen

On my normal walk from the every week grocery store, I saw a young boy, bald, wearing a brown shalwar kamiz, passionately cleaning a motor bike. He was so involved in the cleaning and making sure that it’s dazzling, that he was barely looking anywhere else.

I couldn’t help myself looking at him working so hard, and suddenly a sad thought came to my mind that I was going home with quite a number of food items, thinking about enjoying a peaceful dinner and this young boy probably did not even have the money to buy a simple dinner for himself. Although, I am strictly against begging, and intentionally avoid to give money to those who are begging and encourage them to find some work, however still for some reason I forgot my principle.

I thought I would help him by giving him some money and asking him to have a good dinner, and that he would smile take the money, will give me prayers and be grateful. With this happy ending in mind, I took out my wallet, took out some money and said; “ Beta, yeh lo”, “Son, please take this”. To my extreme surprise, the boy shook his head and said; “no”.

I was very surprised, but persistent to help him, I then took out a chocolate, and offered him, and the answer was again “no”, but with a deep look, a look that made me ashamed to my core, and I couldn’t get the courage to ask another question and walked away with the guilt of my privilege.

He taught me a great lesson; that sometimes we think that we can help others and that we have the best way/solution, however perhaps what we really need is to listen and understand, I wonder if the situation would have been different if I had tried to ask him and understand why he was doing what he was doing and asked him of how I could have helped? Rather than thinking that I had the perfect solution to his problem; of course money. Ironically, criticizing traditional donor agencies, I almost choose the same approach to help…However I probably will never forget his face or this critical lesson that he taught me.

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