Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Rich (04/26/12)
TITLE: Merry Jam
By Tendi Rice
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There was a hot dog station, and a few stools laying around, probably used mostly by the customers who ate there. I headed over there and sat on one of the stools, without the slightest intention of buying. Before I could even put my box down, the gentleman serving yelled at me from his station, ‘These ain’t free sits hon’, come buy something or be on your way’. I stood up with the box of the few things I owned in this world and continued aimlessly about.
As I Loitered in the section where all the vendors sold to travellers and passer-by’s, I spotted a bench where three guys sat. Exhausted from loafing, I noticed an elderly lady get up from it, creating one more seat and I scurried off to occupy it. I slumped into the space, brushing against the next gentleman, who stopped only to give me a nasty look and whisper something that was inaudible yet obviously not a compliment.
Among the hawkers nearby, I noticed a young girl trading home-made jam, which was obviously home-made from the packaging. She was cheerful and pleasant and her customers evidently enjoyed chatting with her. She had gorgeous blue eyes, lovely golden curls in her head, the most beautiful smile and what was often referred to as a ‘dandy spirit’ in these parts of town. I watched her for a while as she spoke to each passer-by so whole-heartedly. ‘This jam is made with love sir, it makes it extra delicious’, I heard her say a few times. She seemed to pass on the cheerfulness as those who spoke with her were smiling and often laughing at the remarks she made.
I watched her for almost two hours on end, obviously carried away by this new fascination in her. She must have noticed, because she eventually came up to me and asked if I wanted some jam. ‘Don’t worry, this one’s on me’, she said, sensing I was about to decline, ‘You look like you could do with some merry jam’. I was surprised at her generosity towards a stranger, especially one who was staring at her for ages. ‘I can’t stay, I’m rushing home for school’, she said, ‘I can’t keep mama waiting for long,’ her southern accent now so evident. ‘School?’ I enquired, surprised as it was the end of the day. ‘My mama home schools me’, she said, obviously proud of her mother. ‘I sell the jam so we can earn a living. Mama can’t walk, else she would sell the jam herself’ she proceeded to tell her entire story. Guilt ridden, I handed her back the jam she had given me, ‘I can’t take this, I’ but she caught me in mid-sentence,
‘Keep it, something tells me you need it, after all, mama always says to help those in need’.
As the young girl darted off home, I could not help a tear in my eye, it’s true, we really only are poor if we choose to be.
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