This is a forwarded email from Mary Anthony in Yangon, Myanmar.
But I feel good.
– But I feel good doing this! the little boy´s answer rang in my ears when I walked into the mall.
He stood right outside the entrance to a shopping mall. In the bitter spring wind, nose red, hat deep over his ears, warming his hands in his pockets, holding the list in the other hand. I noticed he had no gloves.
I checked my purse but had no coins. It is a principle of mine to always give money to cancer research – I had lost dear friends and family members to the disease and wanted to do my little part to help find the cure.
– I´ll bring you some money when I come back, I promised the little boy.
– Thank you! he smiled and sneezed in a big tissue. A very worn tissue, I might add.
I looked at him. If you have ever seen little children who refuse to come out of cold water, you know the color of his lips. He was frozen.
– What are you doing out here? I asked him, – You´ll get yourself a flu! Come inside the mall.
– I´m sorry, but I can´t
– But of course you can! – No, you see, the guard there said no one is allowed to gather money for charities in the mall without written permission from the manager. He said if I wanted, I could stay out here, but I could not come inside. It is forbidden to beg there.
I could not believe my ears. I looked inside, but could not see a guard. If I had I sure would have gone to him to let him know what I thought of such rules.
– But I feel good doing this here too, it´s OK. It really is, the boy wanted to convince me. I sighed.
– Ok, just be here and I´ll give you some money when I get back.
I did my shopping and thought about buying a cup of hot chocolate to the little boy, but I could not. Hadn´t I always warned children not to take anything from strangers? And besides, what if he had diabetes or something?
But now I had coins at least to give to him… Out of impulse I turned back before I got out and went to a clothes store. I bought a pair of mittens, blue ones. The cashier looked at me questioningly when I mumbled the boys word´s to myself.
– But I feel good doing this…
He stood right where he had been.
– Ok, now give me your list, I said to the boy and he handed it over with a pen.
I looked at the empty lines. A few signatures were there and I could see others had given a few coins too. Nothing much, but at least he had collected some money.
– Do you need to get all these lines filled?
– Yes. Or no, I don´t have to, but I want to.
– In this cold weather? Why would you want that?
– Because my best friend Pete has leukaemia. I want to help him, he said solemnly.
I felt like choking. To gain my balance again I took the blue mittens from my bag.
– Here, I got these for you, I said and pushed the mittens into his hands. – Please take them. I noticed you had forgotten yours at home.
– Thank you! Very kind of you! he said and actually bowed, – Now I can stand here a lot longer than I thought!
– Well – what do you get for yourself? Will they give you something as a thank you for doing this?
– Oh yes! the boy said and his eyes lit up with joy, – They sure do!
– What do you get then? I asked, hoping to hear he got some nice toy or perhaps a diploma.
He was smiling broadly now.
– I get a new, empty list! he beamed.
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