An entry in the 2016 Crocodile Prize
THERE lived an old woman in a village located about just one kilometre away from the mission school.
Her husband had deserted her when he found a new wife from another place and the woman had struggled to raise her three children, a girl and two boys.
When her children became adults, they married and she was left alone. She made her own garden, collected firewood and fetched water. She was very industrious.
One day she went to the market to sell kaukau. As she was walking home, she met a young boy carrying a load of books in his bag.
She asked him, “Where do you live, and how far is your home?” The boy said, “I live in Pamas village, about 10 kilometres from the school.”
“How often do you travel from your village to the school?” the woman asked the boy. “I walk to school from my home every day,” he replied.
The old woman felt sorrow for the young boy. She believed the child had a right to education. She believed this cruel world still had a place for his dreams. So she asked him to come and stay in her house.
“Tomorrow after school, you must come to my house. You will stay here and go to school. It is much easier for you go to school from here than to travel all the way from your house as you have been doing.”
The school was only a kilometre away from her home and the boy was relieved that the old woman had been so kind. That afternoon he excitedly told his parents about the old woman’s offer. The parents were happy and helped him to pack his few belongings and brought their son to the old woman’s house the next day.
The old woman gave the boy a vacant room in her house and told him, “This will be your room for as long as you live and attend school here.”
She also said: “I live alone here and do my own gardening. I will not tell you to work. If you wish to assist me, it is up to you. But I will cook your breakfast and come and give you your lunch. I don’t want you hungry when you are at school.”
The young boy was very happy and continued to attend school and completed Grade 4 while living with the old woman. In the afternoon, the boy would come home after school and assist the old woman carry food, fetch water and collect firewood.
The relationship between the old woman and the boy grew and they cared for each other.
The boy had more time to study and his marks improved. Every year from Grade 5 to Grade 8 he got the dux prize. Every year he would bring home the awards and display them in the house. The old woman was very proud.
When the boy completed Grade 8, he was selected to go to high school. He had to leave the old woman’s home and travel to another place to attend high school. The boy’s parents had a farewell party to thank the old woman for her kindness in looking after the boy for almost four years.
And he made her this parting promise. “If I complete all my studies and find a decent job and live in a good house, you will come and stay with me.”
At high school, the boy was very focused in his studies. He didn’t waste time playing, he spend it studying hard. He continued to score high marks and continued to receive the highest award each year. The teachers were proud of him.
When he completed Grade 10, he was selected for Grades 11 and 12 at a national high school. He went on to attend the University of Applied Science and studied for a degree in communication engineering.
After four years of study he was employed as a satellite engineer, given a house and paid a good salary.
The first thing that he did was to send a ticket for the old woman. By now she was very frail, and she needed a wheelchair. He went to the airport to pick her up, and brought her to his home.
He told her, “As you took me to your house, to live and study and do well in school, so I have flown you from home to live with me until you die.
“You will live with me, enjoy the good environment and every good thing I will provide for you. When you die I will buy your coffin and fly you home and bury you near your house.”
The old woman was overwhelmed with the young man’s kindness.
She said, “Your kindness is greater than the kindness I have shown you. Kindness begets kindness. If we are kind to others, we will be shown kindness.
“The golden rule says do unto others what you want them to do unto you. By being kind, we can make the world a better place.”