The tiny store sat at the crossroad of two streets in the Park-Extension neighborhood of Montreal. It bustled with local residents sieving through the new produce that had been stacked carefully in the aisles; seas of yellow lemons, neatly arranged cheeses and meats, and packaged goods of nuts and dried figs from the motherland, created for a scene that could have easily been stumbled upon in a small Greek town.
He turned towards us in the line as he waited for the watermelon he had ordered to be cut; he planned on buying only half of the large fruit, as the whole seemed like too much. His eyes seemed to say that he had something to ask us. He was probably in his eighth decade of life; his skin was weathered by what was likely a lifetime spent out in the sun. In juxtaposition to his apparent age, his eyes seemed to still hold a very present and youthful joie de vivre.
We smiled politely at the old man, exchanging greetings in Greek as we fumbled with the many produce we had collected in our hands; we were indecisive about what we would be making for dinner that night and thus had errored on the side of caution, having picked up much more than could fit into any one dish.
The old man went on to ask my friend and I if we liked watermelon and if we planned on buying some that day; he went on the explain that there existed no sweeter dessert than a ripe watermelon. We responded that we hadn’t planned on it, to which he happily replied that he wanted to treat us to the other half of the watermelon. The joy in being able to share with us was unmistakeable in his smile. We initially tried to tell him that “he didn’t have to do that”, but it quickly became evident that he would not take no for any answer. Thus our “you really don’t have to” turned into a chorus of “thank yous” in appreciation.
We walked home with smiles that seemed to have settled in permanently for hours to come; the gifted watermelon, in all of its simplicity had, in its own way, restored our faith in humanity. It was a small gesture that resonated in a strong sense of gratitude for the presence of community and giving that still exists amongst the modernity of today’s society. In an era where the media reads constant stories of ignorance, close mindedness and selfish action, it was an act that spilled over with a humble sharing of joy.
My dearest readers, let us make an effort to notice the small tokens of human connection that exist in our everyday lives; let us collect these moments to remind ourselves of how simple acts of kindness can resonate profoundly in our experience of this life.