The day I forgot to say Thank You.

A story should always begin with once upon a time. So without breaking the tradition thus it goes.

Once upon a time when I was 8 or 9, something very funny and scary happened to me. Normally I accompanied my mother for grocery shopping. The grocery shop wasn’t far from my home, maybe a 5–10 minutes by foot.

Once, it so happened that we were out of incense sticks, so my mother asked me to go get it. I was delighted, to go to the store all by myself. As a kid, it was an exciting adventure for me to go buy something ‘alone’. For a change, I got to handle the money.

All delighted, I started walking towards the store. Somewhere on the way had a mischievous idea. I thought to myself, what would be it like if went to the store got the packet of incense sticks but returned home to tell mom that they were all out, only to surprise her with the truth. Planned it all out in my head, I would keep one hand behind my back to hide the packet to surprise my mother.

With renewed joy I reached the store, bought the packet and got out of the store. I was so excited that I immediately hid the hand holding the packet, behind my back and started running towards home. After a minute or so I realized something was running behind me. I turned my head to see and a freaking huge cow was running after me. Believe me, as a kid a cow twice your height and 5 times your size running behind you is not a pleasant prospect.

I was scared, real scared; I kept running and I didn’t want to think what would happen if the cow caught up with me. Suddenly, a stranger came from nowhere. He probably saw the whole scene and surmised fast enough that the cow was running after the packet I was holding behind my back and not me. He ran up to me, took the packet from my hand, pulled me out of the way and like a bull fighter waved the packet away from us such that cow ran in a different direction. It came back but the stranger waved back the packet again and it went in a different direction. The cow calmed down after few waves here and there. Probably it realized that the incense stick was of no interest after all and walked away.

I stood there dazed. I almost got gored to death by the holy cow. Giving the packet back to me, the stranger asked in a very gentle voice to go home and this time without running. I shook my head indicating that I understood. I slowly started walking back home, this time holding the packet in front of my chest.

I reached home and told my mother all that had happened. I was so sure that I was in huge trouble but to my surprise she started laughing. She asked me whether I was hurt and told me to be careful next time. As she was walking away, she asked whether I thanked the stranger. The horrible realization dawned upon me — I had not thanked the stranger and told her that I hadn’t. My mother scolded me for not thanking the stranger. I knew I deserved it, the day I forgot to say ‘Thank You’. In the million times, after that incident, I kept a lookout for the stranger whenever I passed by that place. Unfortunately never again saw him.

To this day I try not to forget to say thank you to anyone who helps me. And this story is dedicated to that stranger who saved me, as a Thank You.