I went out to get ice cubes today. Morrison’s is just round the corner from where I live and so I set off with a short list in my hand, and some change gathering sweat in the other.
It was a sunny day. I passed a lot of charity shops (thrift stores) on the way, and I paused as I always do to look at the selection of books they usually set on pretty tables outside. Lots of nice things, really. Only I am a bit poor this month, so I shook my head and walked on. An old lady started to smile at me.
I quickly looked away. Then in that split second I thought, why.
Why do I always look away when I catch people’s eyes? What if they fancied a smile and nothing more?
I smiled at her and the expression on her face appeared to be one of pleasant surprise.
So I decided to let go of this people avoiding shell and be a bit more friendly. I am new in this town afterall. Might as well make me some smiling buddies.
As I was walking towards the entrance to Morrison’s, an Indian lady walked out. Well, she looked Indian. For all I knew she could have been Sri-Lankan. She wore a bright pink and purple traditional shalwar-kameez, and her hair was gloriously snowy white. He face was brown as a nut; the deep rich brown of being out in the sun and living and there were wrinkles on her face painted in the gesture of a smile.
I smiled at her because her face looked so inviting. It was a bogus smile at first. The tentative dipping of one’s toe in cold, unfamiliar waters. Then I saw her look at me, and her face lit up. As though she knew me. Her smile in return started off small, but as the seconds passed it spread all over her face like sunshine.
I was so taken aback that I reflected it with one of my own. I felt my mouth sliding upwards of its own free will. I felt it surge deep within me.
She was smiling at me like she knew me. Like she was my grandmother looking at me after years of being apart. Like our souls had met before and this was their glimpse of each other in physical form.
Then the moment passed and I was walking through the sliding doors of the supermarket. I couldn’t help but glimpse back at her as she trudged on with her shopping bags, without a backward glance.
Perhaps I am exaggerating this moment, perhaps I am reading too much into it. Nevertheless, it is one which I will never forget! I shall make it my point to smile, really smile, at people more often. The aftermath of it is so rich and joyful.