On Sunday I had brought a long a gift for Yuko-san, as a little token of gratitude. She was the one who loaned me her sister's rice cooker and welcomed me to KBF.
This was one of the first few dishes I cooked after getting the rice cooker. It felt really good to be able to have home cooked food, nevermind that it was a simple one. This was supposed to be for lunch but looked more like breakfast food!
It was a windy and rainy evening as I walked from the station to church. On the way there, near the station there are a few restaurants and cafes, some selling food to take away. As I was focussing on not catching a cold, I was careful to cover myself from the wind.
Just at the corner of my eye, I noticed an old woman huddled at a bench just in front of a shop selling hot buns. She was covered in plastic, and beside her was a small bicycle with cans and bottles, presumably for recycling.
I was so tempted to give her the gift which was meant for Yuko-san. A part of me wondered how much that hot bun cost her, not knowing how much money she made selling cans and bottles. Another part of me figured perhaps I could get a replacement gift the next week. After all, Yuko-san would not notice. The other part of me thought, the gift is wrapped in many layers of Japanese wrappings, this old lady would have problem opening it. Another said, why bother, it might be too lavish for her to appreciate. Yet the other, but if you're genuine, you wouldn't make all these excuse not to show some kindness.
While I had these conversations in my head, the light had turned green, and I hurried away with the crowd in the rain. I couldn't help but look back and felt a tinge of guilt. I could have bought her a few more hot buns, and wouldn't lose Yuko's gift. Maybe that's a more practical solution.
Even though there are no beggars in Japan, and the government do try to take care of its citizens (sometimes at its own debt), it reminded me that not everyone in Japan is well off. All quite ironic when that area is frequented by young people and adults in fashionable clothes and seemingly large disposable income.
When I reached KBF, Yuko-san was at the entrance greeting everyone as usual. Still standing in the rain, I handed her the gift. After a short exchange of, no you shouldn't have, but it's okay I just wanted to appreciate your warmth, she thanked me, saying perhaps it's God's timing that the gift came, for her birthday was just a couple of days away.
Just before then, I decided, if I were to see that old woman again, I'd buy her the hot buns.