An Act of Random Kindness: A Short Story By My Friend Rya Kuewor


There was a shout from an old man, who almost immediately after, got eclipsed by a sudden wave of rushing water. I did manage however to catch his words; “der junge, der junge, er ist noch im Fenster”.

I looked towards my left only to see, standing in the window of what seemed to be a wine shop, a little boy around the ages of seven and eight, his eyes pale green, his face, devoid of color. He had his trousers rolled up to his knees, the water, obviously, had defeated the purpose, for he was soaked through and through.

I turned around for a brief moment only to see the unfortunate old man being washed away. Our eyes locked, and within it all, he smiled as if to say goodbye. I was so frightened then, as I was, the first time a cockroach found its way into my shirt. Even an old man, I thought, who deserved peace until the last of his days? How much more me?

Summing up as much courage as could be procured by a youth of nineteen under the circumstances as I was in, I said to myself, “Bob, you’re a fine swimmer; this should be a breeze for you”. Even I didn’t believe me! I came to be in Germany by virtue of a school exchange program, which would last a month; an exchange program which landed me in Die Hochschule Bremerhaven. I was really excited then, and for all the right reasons.

I still am though, only now, for all the wrong reasons. The German city of Bremerhaven along with other coastal cities across the globe was relatively peaceful up until “it” happened. A freak accident, the experts called it; a warning from the gods, the fetish priests declared; judgment day, said atheists and Christians alike.

I overhead someone say, that the Muslim majority believed it to be a test of faith and that mankind would be delivered. For those of us without titles to support an opinion, all we could do was hope. At that time, “the epoch of destruction”, even those with the highest state of psychological equilibrium had a cause for panic.

Because no one, not a single one of the world’s biggest brains could draw up a theorem as to why the moon was making for the Earth! Whatever happened to all the magnetic fields? Whatever happened to gravity when you so needed her?! As expected, water bodies on planet Earth were going into a turbulent rage.

Thousands were lost to the catastrophe! Getting help to those whom it most concerned was about almost impossible. Air traffic had been grounded. To go by sea would be suicide. The autobahn network had been shutdown; it was only a matter of time before the Bundersstraße leading to Hamburg would also be unreachable. Get the boy and get to higher ground I thought. The water was up to his chest now. I could see him screaming and could almost swear I heard it too. My ascetic routines back home did not help me when I tried taking off my shoes and keeping my balance at the same time. I made a quick calculation; he was roughly five yards away from me. Without further delay, I headed towards him. The fact that it was dark did not assist with my footing. The rain beat down upon me like nobody’s business. Lightening struck twice, the sky blazed. I’m quite sure there was the roar of thunder directly afterwards; I don’t recall hearing it though. Between the detrimental rain, the deafening sound of rushing water, the screaming population around me, and the wind howling and even somewhat wailing, archetypal to that of a banshee, all I could hear was my own heartbeat, pumping blood ever so forcefully through my constricted veins, and strange enough, the pulsating life that I must have imagined had been born on my face. I half stumbled, half swam to the boy, gulping water down my throat and into my nose. I finally got to him in what seemed like forever. He was afloat now, hanging on to a pillar in the room. “Geh zurück”, I shouted to him in my weak German, “Ich wird daß fenster bruchen”, indicating to him that I intended to break the window. He made the effort and waded a few feet back. I had kicked something upon my arrival at the window; I found it to be a rock. Lifting it from the water, I flung it with all my strength at the window. The glass came shattering down immediately, posing an entirely new problem; I didn’t have any shoes on. I spoke and beckoned to the boy, “komm mit, beeile dich”. The net movement of the water was away from us, and that was really helpful. In a few seconds, I managed to grab his hand and draw him towards me. The poor boy was shaking, not from cold, but from fear. I looked into his forlorn eyes and asked; “wie heißt dich? Kurt”. He responded, “na, Kurt”. I reassured him, saying: “du musst kein angst haben”. I couldn’t let him know I was more scared than he was, or hope to imagine. “Alles ist gut”, I told him for heartening sake. As quickly and as cautiously as we possibly could, taking his hand in mine, we waded, with the aid of the current, in the direction of higher ground. His profundity for the situation from the time I took his hand onwards fascinated me immensely. With great difficulty and persistence, we at last got to higher ground. The both of us were either destined for something really important or karma just thought it would be nice once in a while to reward her victims, because not far in the distance,we heard the hum of an engine. You can imagine how optimistic we were. We later feasted our eyes, rather gladly in the distance, where fast approaching, was a rescue boat. We could now breathe; the worst was over, at least for us. We waited gratefully as the boat approached. In between pants and sighs as we stood in anticipation, the little boy, grabbed my hand and with his lovable pale green eyes, half whispered, half mimed: “danke schön mein Herr”. Against the glistening twilight, I responded, “bitte mich nicht danken”. I looked down at Kurt, a wide and appreciative smile across his face, a face I shan’t ever forget, and smiled back. Looking into the horizon, a glimmer of hope seized me, I thought to myself, even the sun’s rays speak volumes, as I softly told Kurt, “es ist nicht nötig!” Rya G. Kuewor June 15, 2012.

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