The train was not crowded as I took a seat on my way home. Getting a seat in the Singapore
MRT train is a novelty though. Wherever you board the train, it would be packed
with people. Sometimes when I had been fortunate enough to sit, a child or school
student would have come by and I would have given up my seat. Other times, it would
be an elderly person.
Force of habit and I open my non-fiction book. Contrary to Singapore national
practice, I don’t stare at the smartphone in a train.
Some stations pass by and I am immersed in the pages. Author Roy Peter Clark holds
me in awe and forget the surroundings. Then I notice a feminine pair of legs
closer to me.
I look up and see a 50 year old Singaporean lady holding a bag, standing.
Instinctively, I offer my seat and stand up.She is mildly surprised.
‘It is okay. No problem’, she blurts.
‘Please take the seat’, I say and continue from where I left in the book.
‘Sir, are you sure?’, she asks again with that un-believable look in her eyes.
‘Please feel comfortable, madam’, I say and continue with my book.
Few minutes and some stations later, a seat next to her gets vacated. She asks me
to occupy that and I do.
‘Thank you so much for your kindness’, she says again. I am confused. Why again ?
Ten minutes later she begins preparations to get down and says,’I am not too old to
get a seat from fellow passengers. But I have been touched by your kindness. God bless’, she
I have no words. ‘It is a cultural thing, madam. Nothing special about it’, I say.
She thanks me again and gets down and that sets me thinking.
Giving up my seat is not new to me. But I didn’t expect the reaction.
Probably she was undergoing some pain and desperately needed a seat or was ill but
couldn’t explain to seated passengers or had a bad day at work and hence wanted
An inadvertent act brought me blessings from a stranger. A day well ended, I think.
If only we start looking away from our smart phones, we could be better human beings.