Few weeks ago, I landed in Osaka airport and hopped on a train bound for Kyoto before transiting to Karasuma Oike station.
Along the way, we bought some bento sets at the nearby convenience store before checking into our practical Airbnb apartment.
While we were ready to pacify our post-jetlag hunger, I decided to document our first meal in Kyoto with my beloved iPhone (Lesson 1: It’s Actually Good To Take Photos Despite Disapproving Boyfriends). To my horror, I realized I had failed technology…for once. My phone was lost in transit when it fell out of my bag I had placed on top of my luggage while rolling through the terrain.
Me being me, I embraced the “die lah” with full acceptance of my unfortunate fate (of losing my phone for the first time, on the first day in a foreign land) like a wave of zen flowing through my veins. Well, at least I did not curve into a fetus position and cry my #firstworldproblems away.
Whereas my partner being my partner, or men being men, took the logical route. He grabbed the portable wifi (Lesson 2: Always Have Wifi), called my phone, slipped half his feet into the shoes and ran down to hunt like the instinctive primal creature webbed in his DNA to multi-task resourceful solutions. I joined him soon after, reassuring him that “it’s okay, let it go”… because a lost phone actually translates to men as “she will confirm not be ok, hence I will not be ok, and as a female she will not be ok with me not being ok so better just find that phone.”
After we walked about 50 metres, someone picked up the call. I couldn’t remember the exact conversation that I had in broken English & Japanese but it went something like this,
“Hello? This is my phone. Yes. Can you speak English/eigo ga hanasemasu ka?”
“Eh..hai..Where you? I give… you back.”
“Karasuma Oike eki (station) desu.“
“Give me 20 minutes… you wait for me there.”
“Thank you so much” x 20
Every second felt a hundred times longer than it took. As my inner cynical Singaporean had doubts about whether he would return it, I saw a slim bespectacled boy in a polo tee and baggy jeans tap out of the station and run towards me with beads of perspiration glistening on his forehead.
Even though I seemed odd standing at a pillar of a quiet station with half-worn shoes and a fully inked man, he flashed us the most genuine smile with a shy demeanour and handed me my phone.
There was nothing I could do but bow repeatedly like I was mildly head-banging to Metallica, saying “oh my god thank you so much, thank you so much. This means so much to me. I don’t know how to thank you.”
He told me he was 3 stations away when he saw my phone on the floor near Nijo Castle (which is still a mystery because I only travelled from the airport to Karasuma Oike). He was a student in Kyoto and his name was something along Kenshiro. Lost in disbelief, I forgot to take a picture with him or perhaps exchange some details. All I could say was thank you.
I said I had just arrived from Singapore (he probably didn’t catch my name) and he shook my hands saying, “enjoy your stay in Kyoto” with the warmest smile.
So along with many others who make a lifelong impression in someone’s life, he will just be another “kind soul”, never expecting anything in return, never to cross paths again.
There are things in life that we learn to be grateful for; we say thank you, we pray, we find the good in bad days. But there are deeds of kindness far greater than we feel we deserve that hit us on days we never expect.
The small deeds stop us in our tracks, so we can evaluate ourselves and remember how one tiny action can make a huge difference for another. Big ones though, by those who put their lives at risk everyday, be it firefighters or ordinary men who make extraordinary sacrifices, gain and leave something far greater; unexplainable feelings and merit beyond the prison of flesh and bones.
My kind soul was just a stranger in a foreign place who took a train 3 stops away to return a phone on the floor, while perspiring in the 17-degree weather just to make sure he met me on time.
I doubted him because we all know people who cheat/lie to others and it’s sad how our culture snowballs the good and bad.
But each time we receive a kind deed by those who expect nothing but the personal choice to do the right thing, all we can do is simply pass it on.