Not so long ago I was in a city and not feeling my best. The old black dog was at the door and my coping mechanisms weren’t working as well as they usually do. Not feeling myself I decided to ride it out and hope that I’d come out of the other side feeling back to my normal self (normal being code for whatever the fuck normal for me is).
It was my last day and I lugged my bag out of the hotel and flagged a taxi. I sit in the front of taxis, I like to see where we’re going (especially if it’s a place I am not familiar with or have never been to). My taxi driver struck up a conversation and we got to talking. He was from China and had been in Australia for 12 years.
He and his wife had 3 children which he showed me pictures of. All smiling and happy and from the looks of it, very close knit. Me being me, I asked him if he experienced much racism, he replied that yes he does, and of course it is hurtful, but he always remembers that some people are very ignorant and don’t know any better.
He looked at me and said I would probably experience more racism than he himself endures and I agreed. Then he said half jokingly that people in Australia probably knew more about his culture than mine. I laughed and said yes, you’re probably right about that. He was playing some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard in the taxi and I told him so.
He said it was a CD of Buddhist chanting monks and he found it very relaxing when it was scorching hot and he worked long hours. We reached the airport and before he opened the boot of the taxi he handed me the disc he was playing and said, you look so sad, please take this. And he smiled, gave me my luggage, got back in his taxi and waved as he moved off.
I stood there with the CD in my hands and felt the stinging behind my eyes and knew I was going to cry. At this point an Indian family were getting out of a taxi that had just pulled in and I felt rooted to the spot. The Indian lady took one look at me and just walked over and gathered me in her arms and patted my back until my crying jag finished.
She held me away from her gripping my forearms and said sometimes it is better to let it out yes? I nodded because she was right. Then her small son took my hand and we walked to the terminal together, where she gave me another hug before going in the opposite direction.
The kindness shown to me that day reminds me that not everything is as lost as it seems to be. It reminds me that there are people that care, even if they are strangers, but most of all it reminds me that as humans we all have the capacity for empathy and kindness.