An old friend has been suffering from nasal cavity cancer for years; yet remaining optimistic and strong in his faith in God. Another old friend suffering from terminal colon cancer is taking painkillers continuously; yet he seems to be taking it in stride. A lady friend is facing troubles at home. Another one is having problems at work. All around me, suffering abounds.
Somehow the image of an old lady I met on a bus on New Year’s Eve came to mind. I got on the 5C bus at the TsimShaTsui Ferry about 6PM. It was getting dark, most people around seemed to be tired after a day’s work. I settled in the seat next to the window on a 2-person seat, on a raised platform. An old lady got on the bus and tried to get in the seat next to me. It seemed that she did not have the strength to get up the platform. So I grabbed her arm and pulled her up. She smiled and thanked me.
Her hair was all silvered, like my mother. Her back was slightly crooked. She seemed to be in the eighties, at least seventies. Yet there was a child-like cheerfulness about her.
She seemed to be uncomfortable sitting in the aisle seat, in the front row. She looked around, and saw a 1-person seat that was turned sideways, facing the aisle rather than the front of the bus. She pondered for a moment, and decided to move across the aisle. She got down, slowly, and pulled herself up to the other side. Once she settled in her new seat, she smiled at me again, and explained that she felt more secure in the other seat.
The old lady dressed plainly and did not seemed rich. In fact, the 5C does not serve the richer districts. In any case, rich people simply do not ride in the public buses. She was so old she had difficulties walking and getting on the bus. She did not seem to have a lot of reasons to be happy. However, she was the most cheerful person I met that afternoon. Why is that?
How do people stay happy when they don’t have much, and even in adversity?