We were young children, probably 6 or 7 years of age, in the same class at school in a small regional town with only a few vehicles on the road. I do not remember him in the classroom or the playground but what I do remember is his kindness. His name was Sibby, or Sib, a nickname for Sebastian and he had very black hair and olive skin. Every afternoon when school was finished, Sib and I would walk home together and along the way would talk and talk and talk. Sometimes we walked on the footpath, sometimes on the side of the road. Every afternoon Sibby would carry my school bag and books as well as his own. We would walk past his home where his mother would often be standing in the front yard and although I never went inside his house, I remember her face and her beauty.
Past his house and around the first corner we walked, occasionally stopping to talk to kids from the neighbourhood and then continuing on around one more corner to my home. Sibby never came inside my house either. We would stop outside and he would hand me my bag and books and then he was gone, back around the corner and the next corner to return to his home.
These carefree, innocent days of Sibby’s kindness lasted just a short time before he transferred to another school. Throughout my life, my mother would tease me about Sibby carrying my bag and books every day but I didn’t mind because the memory was filled with happiness.
Fifty years later, I am again touched by kindness, but this time, it is my husband who is carrying my bag and books as I walk to the school where I continue to learn. We usually walk in silence, not needing to talk incessantly as I did as a child. Now my focus in on the surroundings, the broken, cracked and uneven footpaths, the noise from the excessive traffic, the crowds, the busyness, the smells, the pollution, the heat. This city where I am living has no comparisons to my childhood home town. The contents of my bag have changed from slate and crayons to tablet and textbooks, the weight being much heavier now. The journey is longer, nearly three times that of my childhood walk.
A boy and a man, both gentle, both fun, both considerate, both feeling a sense of caring, act simply with kindness which touches me deeply.
“Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see”- Mark Twin