A short story with a moral about the truly important things in life. 

I live in a small town called Alek. The population is less than five hundred and we are crammed in a small area. So basically almost everyone knows everyone. Or at least everyone knows of everyone.

The incident I wish to share happened on a quiet Sunday morning. It was still early – around 7 am. Most of the inhabitants of Alek were still asleep, as they deserved to be. The people of Alek are hard working. It is a mining town, with rich deposits of coal. So most of the people are into mining of coal or transportation of coal – both of which are gruelling tasks. I work as a journalist, the only one in the whole town. I report news happening in Alek to news stations outside town. Usually, I have nothing new to report. Just maybe, the discovery of a new mine, or an injury down in a mine. The last story I wrote was about how the lorry carrying coal outside Alek had broken down and missed its deadline delivery because of that. A lot of people suffered a lot of losses due to that. Not a very intriguing story, but enough to get published and help me keep my head above water.

I was at the local market. The fruit and vegetable stalls had just opened up and I looked with marvel at the fresh fruits and vegetables neatly stacked up in boxes. I bought my necessities and I was about to leave but something brought me to a halt in my tracks. A man with tattered clothes was staring dead straight at me. Alek had very almost no people who were forced to live on the streets. After all, if you couldn’t get any other job, you could always become a coal miner. There were never ever too many coal miners in Alek.

I walked up to the man and asked him if he needed help. He continued to stare at me, seemingly not comprehending what I was saying. I slowly asked him if he wanted me to buy him some food. He still didn’t reply.

By now, quite a few people had come to the market to buy their necessities. A young couple joined me in my attempt to help the lost man.

“I.. want..” the man said in a wheezing voice. “I.. “ He patted his stomach. I understood that he was hungry and passed him an apple. The young couple gave him a fruit salad box they had bought. The man looked in appreciation and with a little wonder in his eyes. He scarfed down the food we gave him and I passed him a water bottle and he took a deep swig. He cleared his throat. I realised he couldn’t talk before because he was parched. I felt immense pity for him.

“Thank you” he managed to say finally.

“Are you from Alek?” I asked.

“No, I am passing through. And I’m glad I decided to pass through. I passed through many big cities, busy towns but I was invisible there.  You people were able to see me. And more than eyes that requires a big heart. Thank you.”

We live such busy lives that often we don’t see the most important things right in front of us. So stop and look. Humanity and love are sometimes more important that a fat salary in your pocket.