The shadows were getting longer by the minute. As I passed by milestone after milestone, I found myself still quite far away from the nearest town. It had been a long day bicycling under the full sun.
I was hoping to buy a bunch of bananas for dinner. I only had 29 Baht with me to spare. With no ATM around me on the highway, that was my allowance for food for the night.
On the way, I saw a few shops adjacent to the road selling food. I slowed down to see if any of them had bananas.
Luckily, one of them did. I stopped to catch a breath before I spoke.
But as it happened, I didn’t need to speak at all. A lovely woman stood up and put a big bunch of bananas in a bag and gave it to me.
Since I didn’t have much money, I wanted to ask how much they cost. I took out my phone and gestured her to type in the price in the calculator app.
To my surprise, she spoke back to me in fluent English.
‘No No, you don’t need to pay for this. It is a gift from me to you.’
‘No, I must pay for this !’ I insisted.
She smiled and continued,
‘These bananas are from my farm. Very delicious. No problem for me. You can enjoy them.’
And she put another bunch in the bag for me.
‘What is you name ?’ I asked her.
‘My name is Onn. I live in this village.’
‘Onn, I am from India.’
‘I know. I can tell from your face.’
Her demeanor had a warmth and innocence as if she was trying to make the first friend of her life.
I wished to give her something for her kind gift of a couple dozen bananas.
‘Onn, can I click a picture of you?’
‘This is a special camera. It is called a Polaroid. We will have the picture come out from the camera instantly.’
‘Oh really! ‘ she exclaimed and posed.
I clicked the picture and waited for it to develop in the dark.
‘You like Thailand?’
‘Yes, a lot !’
‘Why?’ she inquired.
‘Because of people like you!’ I shared gladly.
She wore an excited look as I gave her the Polaroid picture.
‘This is wonderful. I like it. Thank you !’
‘You can make it your ID card !’ I joked.
‘Yes yes ! Next time you come in this area, come again, I always have bananas from my farm.’
I joined my hands and bowed down to greet her Namaste.
‘Yes I will, I promise.’
I got on my bicycle and headed onward.
She waved goodbye to me, just like kids on the street do, knowing well that they would never see you again, and not allowing that awareness to quell the exuberance in their greeting.
I’d heard from marketers that to create a relationship with a customer, give free stuff to them when they least expect it. By doing so, you’ll create loyalty around your brand.
But this beautiful village woman, far removed from the context of business, shared what she had, without seeking any business in return.
She was just happy being an embassador of goodwill.
Had I paid for the bananas the usual way, she would have had money and I’d have had the Fruit.
But she chose to be generous,
And both of us have a beautiful memory,
And most importantly the desire to carry the spirit of empathy, compassion and goodwill within us, on the journey of life.
Later in the night, I tasted one of the bananas. They were certainly the best ones I’ve ever tasted.
She was right to not put a price tag on it.
For certainly they are,