I remember when I was a child and we were moving. Again. We had spent a few weeks packing up our lives, and were on a train headed across Canada. I can’t remember which train we were on. All I recall is that I was nervous. I knew little of where we were going. In my childhood eyes, that train was headed into a thick fog of unknown.
I was sitting next to my mom, and we were in one of those crowded trains where people sit opposite each other. Passengers are facing you and you try not to look at them directly. Your knees are so close to each other that any careless movement causes a clash.
I tried my best to sit still, like a good boy.
After hours of sitting, I felt so stiff, like I was in a prison in my own body. I could feel sensations in my legs charging up like an electric current. I wanted to stand, jump, dance. Most of all, I just wanted to stretch my legs. My knees were throbbing.
I kept shifting left and right, up and down, desperate for relief. I tried putting my legs on my mom’s lap next to me, but because of the hard plastic armrests, it was incredibly uncomfortable. I gave up, and kept fidgeting like a tortured fly on its last flaps.
Then, an angel appeared.
There was a woman sitting across from me who apparently had been watching me squirm all throughout the ride. She tapped my legs and gestured to put them on her lap. I was hesitant, but her warm smile reassured me.
I slowly stretched out my legs. I can still feel the relief from that moment, as if my legs had been tied up my entire life, and were finally released.
God, it felt good.
I fell asleep instantly, and slept soundly for the rest of the ride. I was relaxed, not just because my legs were stretched, but because my mind was at ease. In that moment I learned that this new, scary place I was going was not so scary at all.
Here, there were angels on the trains.
Decades later, that small act of kindness still comes back to me every so often. I try my best to live a life such that, when the time comes, I too can offer a little comfort to a stranger in need.
Salman! I love this story. Within the simplicity of this “angel’s” gesture was a profound and important lesson. My heart is warmed. Thank you.
What a lovely short story! I love that it plays in your mind to this day!