painting Mr. X’s house

Dearest ______,

Kindness is as universal a truth as suffering. Context, a variable, but never an excuse to overlook that which is constant. That even the smallest act of kindness means two less unhappy people in the world. Or that pain caused by an empty stomach pretty much feels the same way, anywhere you go in the world.

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I’ve been living in Singapore for some years now, where potent manifestations of being “the 3rd richest country in the world” (according to Forbes) have only made it easier to forget that even here, people are fighting personal battles. And that even here, some people have lesser capacities to win them.

So we help. And we help in any conceivable way that we can.

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1) Nini is one of the nicest people I know. With her church (Gospel Light) and other non- profit organizations (LoveAid, Yong En Care Centre, etc), she’s looked after many less- privileged households in Singapore. A couple of days ago, she invited some of us to paint a particular Mr. X’s house.

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2) Mr. X is about 60 years old and alone. Save for another middle- aged man who shares a small studio flat with him, he is by all respects alone. For years now, he’s had a developing bone disease that’s slowly shrunken his appendages one brittle bone at a time. Body skewed and movements a succession of jerky limps, he’s had trouble making a living for himself. And while the government does extend welfare to people like Mr. X, he has no family to look after how he actually lives day- by- day.

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Seven of us showed up at his house on a Saturday morning. Mr. X profusely thanked us before we even started cleaning up and painting the whole place.

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There is obviously more to be done for him- giving him proper curtains, proper storage for his clothes on the floor, a real chair to replace a makeshift ottoman he made himself using a grocery plastic bag with scrap cotton and wool inside…

And plans are already underway, to ensure that he’s taken care of from hereon.

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Last Saturday was a testament for me- a realization and a realization– of a very simple concept: that we are all bound by common hardships. But more importantly, that we are bound by our kinder and better selves.

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Photography and text by Author unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.

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