No matter one’s background, we should treat everyone equally. I did not always know that but one misunderstanding made me realise that we should treat everyone with compassion and respect.
A few weeks ago, a small family had rented the apartment beside our apartment. Their clothing and suitcases all look quite worn out, with holes in their shirts. On the day they moved in, one of their children came to our house and asked to borrow a bottle of vegetable oil. Wanting to make a good first impression, I lent them some vegetable oil. However, they started borrowing items almost daily, from toilet paper to dish soap, which got on my nerves.
One Friday night, I was sitting at the dining table doing my homework. My father was on a business trip while my mother was out to buy groceries, so I sat in silence as I wrote my essay. Suddenly, the lights went out. Startled, I screamed. Since young, I had always been afraid of the dark. Then the doorbell rang. I peeked through the peephole to see a familiar face. It was my neighbour, the 10-year-old girl, again. I calmed myself down and put on a cold expression as I opened the door.
“Hello! Sorry to bother you so late. I was wondering if you have candles?” she said with a smile. She wore her hair up in pigtails and wore an old faded yellow dress.
“No, I don’t,” I lied, my annoyance clear in my tone.
“Oh…” she replied, her expression unreadable.
I plastered a fake smile on my face before closing the door shut. A wave of panic hit me because it was so dark. I scrambled for the candles which were deep in the drawer. I grabbed a match and immediately lit the large candles I found at the bottom of the drawer. I lit five candles but the light was unable to completely purge away the darkness. I sat near the window, where the light from the streetlights entered the room. I glanced out the window, hoping to see my mother walking back. As I searched the streets for my mother, I thought angrily, “How could they be so selfish? They come to us every day just to borrow something and expect us to give them whatever they need? Since they are so poor, why don’t they just seek help from the government? Why come to us?” Anger swept through me at the thought of their actions.
“Ding Dong!” the doorbell rang. Mother must have come back! I rushed to the door, glad that I would not be alone in this terrifying dark house. My smile fell as I opened the door. It was not my neighbour again.
“Here are some candles!” she said cheerfully as she held out a large box of candles, “I heard from my mother that you might be afraid of the dark. Don’t worry these candles last very long and are also very bright. We use them quite often at our previous flat.”
Realisation hit me. She was asking whether I had candles out of compassion, not because she needed them. They were not the ones who were selfish, I was.
“Oh, thank…thank…thank you.” I stuttered, embarrassed by my previous behaviour. My face flushed with guilt at the thought of my actions. I asked for her name with a slight smile.
“Isabelle!” she replied with a toothy grin.
“Thanks for the gift, Isabelle. I really appreciate it. I am sorry about my behaviour earlier on,” I said sincerely. She forgave me and gave me a little wave before shutting the door. I closed the door gently and lit the candles she gave me. Like she said, the candles burned brightly like the sun and the house seemed to be the brightest place on earth.
Since that then, I always greeted Isabelle with a warm smile whenever I saw her. I would also try my best in lending a helping hand and understand their situation.
Misunderstandings can happen in life, but what is important is to learn from our mistakes and not repeat them again. Misunderstandings can be easily avoided through one thing, trust. We should have trust in those around us. This way they will trust us too. Trusting our neighbours is more important than we think. Who would be the first to help us whenever we are in need? Our neighbours, since they live so close to us! Therefore, we should do our best in building a bond with our neighbours to prevent misunderstanding from happening between us.
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