Perspective This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     When I was 12, I visited India. I remember groaning in heart-wrenching misery as I thought of the two weeks that lay ahead. I shuddered remembering the mosquitoes that had plagued me every time I had visited, as well as the littered and bumpy dirt roads. I hated to see those poverty-filled streets.
As I gazed out of the plane, the chic interior of the Singapore Airlines aircraft contrasted with the cracked asphalt and dry brown scenery that waited outside. I burrowed deep into the leather seat, pulling the wool blanket over my head as the plane came to a rather jerky landing. The airport was so outdated that there weren’t even jetways for the planes to pull into. Instead, a staircase was attached to the plane. I trudged down the stairs dragging my handbag, afraid to breathe the smog-filled air.
I always smiled and answered politely when asked by other Indians how I like their country, but inside I was always critical. I hated their non-Western ways. Their way of life seemed so primitive - it felt like they were unsophisticated.
These views dramatically changed just a couple days before we were set to return to the U.S. I was playing outside our car while my father was looking at the construction site of some apartment complexes. I walked around our car, sulking. From the corner of my eye I could see a girl taking care of her little brother. Ignoring her, I dug out a coin from my pocket and started flipping it. As I did, I happened to drop it near her. To my surprise she picked it up and handed it back to me.
Even though she was dirty and definitely needed the coin that was practically worthless to me, she still offered to return it to me. I told her to keep it and dug into my pockets for the rest of my money. I asked her where she was staying and I rushed back to the car to grab all the food we had (which, to my disappointment, was only a pack of M&M’s and an orange). I proudly gave her everything I had.
She stared at the food and then asked me what it was supposed to be. I was astonished that she did not know what chocolate was. When I explained, she still seemed puzzled. Again the girl surprised me when she opened the chocolate and, instead of eating it, offered it to her little brother.
I felt a pang of guilt as I watched how unselfish she was. I constantly fought with my sister and was ashamed that I probably would have eaten the candy and not shared with my sister. I watched her walk off with her brother in her arms to her parents, who were laboring in the fields, and gave them the orange.
I was so astounded by her actions. Even though she was poor and hungry, she thought of her family first. I had never seen any beggar act like that in America. That selfless girl made me appreciate India more, and changed my views. I realized that India’s faults didn’t matter; rather, it was more important how people acted and what their attitudes were about the future.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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