It all began with a one of the longest family trips I have ever been in. Going from Albania to Montenegro is just four hour drive, yet it seemed to stretch on for a really long, and boring, time. I used most of the mundane hours and looked out the car window, staring at repetitive view of trees and mountains. Trees and mountains, trees and mountains… is this all you’ll ever see on this stupid trip? I thought to myself. Under my feet, I was annoyed by the constant shuffling of a plastic bag, that I had filled with snacks for the trip. I pushed it aside, contemplating why I had brought it in the first place.
The long hours ended and finally our car reached the border. It was noon, and the border was already busy dealing with a long line of vehicles waiting to pass. Great, more waiting and complete utter boredom ahead. I thought to myself. Although I wasn't in the best mood, that didn't leave my stomach any excuse not to growl. I remember the snack bag that I had brought, I pulled it up from underneath the car seat, and searched for something to eat. Chocolate bars, rice cake, dry fruit, some cookies from Grandma… and Gummy Bears! I grabbed out the Gummy Bear pack and opened it up. Finally! Something to cheer me up! I started to eat them one by one, slowly, trying to savour the sweet flavour. My goodness, I must be the hungriest person alive right now.
My thoughts were interrupted by consistent tap on the glass window. I perk up and see a girl, a teenage girl. A Roma community beggar. I tried to stop glancing at her.
Stop looking at her...
Stop looking at her...
I look away, I can’t help feel guilty, and I try to hide the packet of gummy bears out of her sight. I know I’m hungry, but she must be starving. The girl showed all signs of malnutrition, she was skinny, there were dark bags under her eyes and she looked utterly exhausted. I look at her again. Please leave, I can’t help you. She looked to be my age, and while I was on complaining about this boring trip, she was begging for money on the borders of countries. I felt remorse built up in my stomach, thinking about a different and much harsher life that this girl must have, compared to me. I’m not hungry anymore. I make the decision to lower the car glass and hand over the Gummy Bears and chocolate bars to her. Her eyes were wide with confusion, as if she can’t believe her luck, and she slowly took all the snacks into her skinny arms.
She uttered “Faleminderit.” or Thank you in Albanian.
I smiled and replied “Pa problem.” or No problem.
She looked at me again, used all the energy left in her to smile, and walked away.
Later on, when the car line finally shortens, I see her sharing her food with other Roma children. All of them were delightfully munching on the chocolate bars and eating sweets they’ve probably never had the luxury to taste before. Well would you look at that… Never before had I seen children embracing a chocolate bar as if it were a ticket to Disneyland. Never have a seen a child get so excited over something that I usually have in my snack cupboard at home.
The Roma girl and I have two completely two different lives, one is better and one is not. However, the way the Roma girl lives, has taught her to appreciate everything you have and enjoy everything you were give. This girl probably has parents with no jobs, lives in a terrible neighborhood, lives in poverty, and worst of all she may go hungry everyday. My life is the complete opposite of hers and yet I still don’t appreciate it to the fullest. I still complain, I still get grumpy, and I still forget about others who are less fortunate than myself. Humans tend to create problems when they don’t have any, when really they should be appreciating what we were given to the fullest.
I look back at the girl and all her friends, eating with joy. I remember the quote from Mother Teresa “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.”
I just did.
I smile for the last time, and close the car window shut.